Billions of business dollars are wasted around the world every year because of bad communications. Employees don’t understand instructions, too many smart people in the company are afraid to push back on bad ideas, sales people are missing the mark in telling customers the value of the company’s product or service, business meetings have too many people who suffer from FOSU (Fear of Speaking Up), and C-Suite executives have a hard time making their case to investors, the Board, and the media.
In my experience, too many corporate players have blind spots when it comes to business communications. In virtually all cases, these people are smart, talented, experienced, and maybe good communicators in some parts of their work life but come up short in certain key areas. Let me give you some examples.
- Jeffery is an executive and a scientist at a major pharmaceutical company. When he talks to his internal teams, he comes across as smart, interesting, and understandable. But when he’s out of his comfort zone—addressing the board, Wall Street, clients, or reporters—he gets too deep into the weeds. He tries to mask his anxiety by being overly technical. He loses his audience and fails to communicate his otherwise smart ideas. His confidence drops when he thinks he’s talking to strangers who are more powerful than he is. With one-on-one coaching, Jeffrey is now more confident and has the communications tools to get across his ideas and insights clearly, persuasively, and productively.
- Sean is a really nice guy, except that when it comes to criticizing his team he turns into a belligerent bully. His people shutdown and tune him out. Through outside communications consulting, Sean now knows how to criticize in a way that gets attention, commands respect, and results in positive outcomes.
- Joan has been an HR executive at one of the most prestigious not-for-profits in the world. The CEO of the organization told me that she’s really smart but she doesn’t believe her audience is. She keeps talking and talking and talking until she thinks her audience understands her. They got it the first time she explained it, but get frustrated when she keeps explaining her points over and over again. I worked with her to be succinct and direct and to use PowerPoint to reinforce her concepts.
Virtually every company has key people whose effectiveness could be improved dramatically if they had help in getting across ideas in a way that makes sense to those they are trying to reach. More often than not, these capable people do not realize that they have verbal communications short comings. They understand themselves perfectly and assume others do as well. They need outside coaching to ensure that they are communicating at their highest level in all facets of their career. Corporate success and profits depend on it.
If you are 100% sure that all of your top people (or you) are communicating as well as they could be, then consider yourself lucky. If you have any doubts, let’s talk.
Bob Berkowitz is an executive communications coach based in New York City. He works with clients in person and through teleconferencing.