One might be excused for not expecting a presenter on effective communication methods to raise his own hand when asking the audience who among them considers themselves an introvert. But this morning at Sapiens' user conference in Manhattan's theater district, Matt Kucharski, EVP of Minneapolis-based communications firm Padilla Speer Beardsley, did just that. Just because you're an introvert doesn't mean you can't learn how to communicate effectively with your staffers and customers, he explained.
"I see so many great ideas and great business initiatives that fail because they weren't effectively communicated, and people who get frustrated because they can't communicate effectively," Kucharski says. "Communication should be a tool of management. You want to make sure what you're doing as a business is aligned with what the stakeholders expect of you."
Here are some tips Kucharski provided to communicate more effectively within the IT organization, the larger enterprise, and with customers:
- Get to the point: Humans go about solving problems by gathering information, then establishing the solution. There's a tendency to present solutions the same way: by building a case before getting to the point -- an error, according to Kucharski. "We listen the exact opposite way than we gather information -- this is the biggest issue I see with IT folks," he says. "You build your ideas in an ice cream cone -- but you should then deliver them in a Christmas tree."
- Don't lean on stats: When you're building your case, remember that there should be a clear objective to your proposal. "People remember stories more than they remember facts -- so tell the story," Kucharski says. "Stats and facts aren't messages on their own, instead they support your message."
- Research: Find out what the pain points are with who you're communicating with, and address those, Kucharski says. "Research sounds really daunting. But it's cost-effective and quick to do these days," he explains. Pay attention the environment you'll be communicating in: Are you addressing a group in a conference room? Are you putting together some content for a website? "We have to communicate in an environment that makes sense for both sender and receiver," he adds. "But we're facing a constant barrage of noise."
- Don't worry so much about ROI: Communication has to be integrated in today's world, Kucharski says. If it's easier or more effective to communicate with customers via social networking, for example, don't get caught up in short-term economic thinking. "ROI is only one dimension of value. Does it work better than the alternative?" he asked. "We need to use the communication channels that our audience uses, not the ones we want to use."
- Be authentic: As you explore new communication channels, missteps will happen -- so it's important to not run from them. "People will find out" if you're not being transparent, Kuharski says. There is a major barrage of messages coming at consumers and employees alike: Only those that are authentic can break through. "If you don't break through that clutter, you become part of it."