How much impact do you have on the world around you? Have you ever stepped back and thought about how many of the ‘good ideas’ you have directly or indirectly turn into reality? If you haven’t then I’d suggest that you invest a couple of minutes in reading on to understand a couple of small things that can help.
In my recent articles on ‘Are you a ‘digital native’ – and how would you know?’ and ‘Evidence vs. Judgement – the art of balance’ I looked at some of the challenges of the digital world that we live in. The digital world is dynamic as are the skills and competencies required to thrive.
Traditionally, people aspired to ‘technical mastery’, which where and still are seen as ‘hard skills’. These remain important, however, increasingly are becoming a ‘right to play’. ‘Soft skills’, named as such because they are seen as more an ‘art’ than a ‘skill’ are increasingly seen as the differentiators.
Communication has always been seen in the ‘soft skills’ category. I have always felt that communication is something that is largely done by, and the responsibility of individuals. It’s not something that is the sole responsibility of the ‘Communications Department’.
Much has been written about the proliferation of mechanisms/channels available, and how these allow individuals to create volume and reach for their messages.
In reality, being aware of the mechanisms and how to use them are the ‘hard skills’. As articulated above it’s not this knowledge that differentiates it’s about how you deploy them for impact. It’s the ability select the right channel(s) to reach the right audience, but equally important it’s about creating content that resonates.
We all know that we are in a ‘data rich and time poor’ world where the proverbial ‘elevator pitch’ is a powerful concept and skill.
In one of my previous roles we identified a need to help people become more confident in presenting without supporting material such as PowerPoint. After all if you bump into the CEO at the coffee machine you don’t normally have a presentation with you.
The first exercise was for people to speak on a topic of their choice for no more than 3 minutes.
In this exercise the first person to go was almost always still speaking at 10 minutes. Even with the benefit of having watched this, and knowing this, the people following on were still speaking at 5 minutes! What it did was build confidence by demonstrating that we shouldn’t worry about the volume of content available. What we had to do was work on condensing it. In order to successfully communicate for impact we had to actively think about it, plan for it, and deliver on it.
In the data rich, digital world, the time you have to create impact has got shorter. You probably have a sentence and no more than a paragraph to get the attention of the audience. If successful you have between 250 and 500 words, or if you’re a blog between 30 and 96 seconds depending on who you believe to get the point across.
If you’re still reading at this point then I must have done something right! But never more so has the art of communicating for impact been so important.
Whether you’re producing a bid, giving opinion, or asking for a pay rise planning and structuring your message, and ‘front loading‘ it, can be the difference between success and failure.
Ultimately what good is all the technical knowledge if you can’t communicate them in a way that creates impact.