6 communication essentials to advance your career

by | Mar 3, 2015


6 essential communication skills

The most successful men and women create their own future through effective communication, by using words to own success, demand recognition for achievements and project confidence.

Research shows that managers rate women higher than men in leadership competencies, but lower in leadership potential. This shows that women have more to gain in projecting leadership presence in the way they communicate. Women have the opportunity to impact others’ perception through effective and confident communication.

Although communication essentials are pertinent to both men and women, decades of research show that women have a greater opportunity when it comes to confident communication, including owning success, and demanding recognition.

Here are 6 communication essentials to project confidence and advance your career.

 #1 Start strong

The first minute of your talk is crucial: you can either catch or lose the attention of your audience. So parachute in, don’t preamble! Ask yourself, if there is only one thing that my listener wants to take away from this conversation or presentation, what is it?  Focus on that one thing, make it clear, consistent and beneficial.

Avoid the use of fillers because they have a negative impact on your story. These are words such as “eh, like, so to speak, you know, …”. This is especially pertinent to women, because research has shown that nearly twice as many women use fillers than men.

 #2 Stay succinct

In order to deliver a succinct message, leverage the Power of Three.  The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp groups of three. Think back to childhood and you can find many examples - A,B,C; 1,2,3; The three pigs  and not forgetting 3Plus of course!

 It is a powerful tool to influence the perception that you are precise.

 #3 Communicate in 3D

With 3D communication we mean rich and dynamic communication.  Weaving multiple types of content together will position you to better project confidence around your accomplishments.  Women tend to communicate success using internal criteria, such as personal recognition and how they have mentored or built a team.  On the other hand, men tend to communicate success using external criteria, such as financial impact and tenure at the company. Make sure you use both internal and external criteria, communicate in 3D and sell your ideas.

#4 Speak up

A real opportunity to speak up and influence other’s perception of you is in business meetings. Data shows that women appear less effective in meetings than in other business situations.  Two immediate steps you can take to portray greater confidence in meetings are

[Tweet "If you don’t share your achievements, very few will know about them"]

1) Content:  Anticipate, prepare, participate

Have a couple speeches in your back pocket.  Prepare questions, arguments, and comments to join the discussion strong. Research shows that women, more often than men, tone down their message or opinion with what we call ‘weak words’. Women ask questions or make suggestions rather than direct statements.

This not only takes away the power of your message, but is also perceived as being less succinct.

2) Voice:  Project, Pace and Pitch

This can be challenging when discussing volatile issues or things you are passionate about. Research has shown that when women are speaking passionately about a topic, men perceive this passion as women being emotional. Try to keep an even keel even when you are passionate about a topic.

 #5 Mind your body language

Research varies on the impact of verbal content.  It is estimated that no more than 30-35% of a message is carried through the words you use.

The remaining 65-70% is carried through nonverbal channels. When the verbal and nonverbal messages are consistent, communication is more likely to be effective.  Body language varies by gender as well.  For example, when women are listening they tend to tip and nod their head. Tipping your head is a sign of vulnerability, which you want to avoid as you want to make a confident impression, and nodding your head has a different meaning to men than to women. Women nod their head to show they are interested and want you to elaborate. Men nod their head when they agree with you and want you to move on.

#6 Project warmth

Research from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University by Annett Grant and Amanda Taylor, suggests that likability and approachability enhance leadership ability and influence. At the end of the day, we want to do business with people whom we like and trust.

[Tweet "Project warmth through smiling and spontaneous facial expressions"]

Their study indicates that high status men and women smile more. Women smile almost twice as much as men.  So women, when it comes to projecting warmth, we have an advantage!

Caroline Kersten Contributor
Caroline Kersten is a founding partner of Leverage HR, where they specialize in transitioning talented women to the top and help organizations build diverse leadership teams.
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