5 Steps to Become a More Effective Business Communicator

Author By Jim Lara
how to become an effective communicator - man presenting in board room

Being an effective business communicator is neither as difficult—or as easy—as some people might think it is. Like anything else, it takes a little planning and know how.

So, first of all, how are your communications efforts with your business aviation team going?

Are they working for you? Are you getting through to everyone? Do you find that even though you think you’re being crystal-clear, there are always some folks who just don’t seem to get it?

How to Become an Effective Business Communicator

If you really want to get your message across as a business aviation leader, following are five important steps that you should follow in every communication in which understanding, action and alignment are required to produce successful outcomes.

Step 1. Where?

The first element of any business communication is to clearly state “where” the team is going. Keep in mind that,as a leader, you are planting the flag on the hill, defining the destination or objective. Use simple sentence structure and vocabulary that everyone understands.

Remember, this is your first connection point with the members of your audience. If you fail to capture their imagination at this stage, with “where,”then the chances are that your destination or goal will not be reached.

Here’s an example of what you might say:

“This coming year, we can expect to add several new international destinations and, perhaps, establish operating bases in as many as three international cities.

As I’m sure you can imagine, the opportunities this level of growth will present for all of us are really promising.”


Step 2. How?

If step one is the “big picture”, then step two moves you into the tactical arena. Here, you should clearly define how the team is going to get there, how the objective will be reached. It’s important that your tactical plan—the “how” of it—be both realistic and specific.

This will enable the members of your audience to define barriers that they might see as well as help them to understand any resources that may be required (time, budget, etc.).

Make sure that your perceptions regarding “how”are aligned with those of your audience. Disconnects in this area can be a lethal trap.

Communicating the “how”might look something like this:

“We are going to establish an International Operations Team, led by Frank Smith. Frank will select team members from each of our functional areas: flight operations, in-flight services, maintenance, dispatch, business administration and executive office interface.

This team will develop the specific plans for our expansion of our international operations. The team will also be responsible for turning the plans into reality.

If you are interested in playing a vital role with this growth initiative and being part of the International Operations Team, please discuss your interests with your leader and Frank.

As always, feel free to discuss it with me, as well, but also be sure to talk with your functional leader.”


Step 3. Why?

What’s the rationale for this activity? Why is it necessary? What’s the justification? Remember that in order for you to lead, you must have followers. And those followers must make a conscious decision to follow you! (They do have a choice).

Thus, you will want to explain to them the “where” and “how.” Also make sure that you have thought through, very clearly, the “why’s.” If your communication doesn’t fully articulate why the “why’s” make sense, the odds are your effectiveness will be weakened.

A “why” example:

“Our company is planning for significant growth in our international markets. Our firm’s senior executive leaders view business aviation as a true enabler of growth.

Thus, we are being integrated into the business planning processes. But as you know, our lead times to ramp up international bases can be significant.

That’s why we need to get started right now—today—so that, down the road, we’re able to show our executive team that we were able to anticipate the company’s growth, rather than react to it.”


Step 4. What’s Expected?

When communicating your expectations to an individual or to the team, be very clear and carefully define what you’re looking for. Essentially, you are laying out “the deal.”

If you don’t take the time to set expectations, the chances are extremely high that your anticipated results won’t be delivered. You simply can’t expect your audience to be clairvoyant.

A statement that sets expectations might include:

“When our new International Operations Team is in place, each team member’s role, responsibilities and deliverables will be clearly defined.

And since each person already has existing responsibilities, their overall workload will be reviewed and redistributed as necessary to ensure that the expectations for their performance are realistic.


Step 5. “WIIFM” (What’s in it for me?)

The age old “WIIFM”question. Remember that we, as leaders, only have two motivators to work with:fear and interest.

Fear is a short-term motivator, which usually produces inferior results. Interest, on the other hand, is a long-term motivator that usually elicits superior results.

When you hear that someone “has their heart and soul”in a project, you can bet that they are highly interested in what they’re doing. When you, as a leader, can align someone’s passions and interests with the needs of the organization, you will have only one thing to do: get out of the way and watch it happen!


Give it a Try

If these five simple steps to effective communication produce such great results, then why isn’t this formula used all of the time? The answer is simple. These five steps require time and effort. But, rest assured, once you put in what’s needed, this process works very, very well!

The next time you need to ensure that your message is clear and you need to move folks to action, incorporate these five key ingredients in your communication. Tell them where, how and why; set expectations; and then let them know the “WIIFM.” You just might be amazed at the results!


Your Turn

Have you worked for an excellent leader who has an effective communications style? Did he or she use all or part of this process? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below.