Tips for effective communications with clients and colleagues

By Mindy Peterson, Building Kentucky

It’s not unexpected advice coming from a communicator, but communications matters.

It’s what you say, what you write, the email you send and the text that you may return just a little too quickly. No matter what format you’re using and who your audience is, the words you choose and the way you deliver them affect how you are perceived.

When you communicate effectively and thoughtfully, you’re putting yourself in a position to succeed.

Strong, clear and effective communications will provide a solid foundation for all you do. It’s the lens through which others are viewing you, your work or a project at hand.

The words you choose matter, but so does the way you deliver them. Confidence is catching. When you believe in yourself and deliver a strong message, it’s going to resonate.

Communicating In Our Virtual World

Over the past year-plus, you would think we would be pros at communicating in a virtual world. We’re not.

Some of us still refuse to turn that camera on, and it’s so hard to remember to unmute at the right time.

If you want a simple piece of advice that will serve you well, it’s this: turn that camera on!

You would never go into a meeting and turn your back to someone. Having that camera off is nearly the equivalent. You lose too much. A person can’t see that you’re listening and engaged. A nod of agreement can’t be seen or a look of confusion can’t be addressed. With that camera off, it’s too tempting to multitask and that’s not what the person on the other end of the conversation deserves.

We’re making strides toward returning to some normalcy but know that virtual meetings are here to stay. Make the most of them by engaging as you would at an in-person meeting. Avoid multi-tasking, avoid interruptions, organize before the meeting, share meeting documents in advance, set clear expectations, respect the time of others and make sure follow-up items are clearly identified.

Listen And Respond

Another key tip doesn’t require you to say or write anything – just listen. Active listening is key. Don’t interrupt.

Make eye contact – whether in person or on-screen (with that camera on!).  Nod your head and use verbal listening cues to show you’re engaged – “I see,” “ I understand,” “mmhm.” Show that you’re listening by responding to what you hear. Paraphrase and summarize: “So, what I hear you saying is…” Ask questions to clarify and react to the information you’re given.

Quick Tips For Top-Notch Communication

Think before you speak. It’s an oldie but goodie.

Take that pause to think about what you’re saying before you charge forward. In that same vein, proofread. It’s the equivalent of taking that breath before you speak. Review what’s on paper or on the screen before you hit send. Emails are fired off quickly. A short review will strengthen your message and, perhaps, avoid an embarrassing mistake.

Whether communicating with a colleague, a client, or a prospective client, there are some tips to keep in mind to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward:

  • Be clear and concise.
  • Be organized and prepare in advance.
  • Know your why – your purpose for communicating.
  • Identify needs and action steps.
  • Listen and restate what you hear.
  • Be engaged.
  • Be confident – you can do this!

There’s no secret sauce to communicating well, but these tips – and practice – will help. And if the takeaway is to turn that camera on, you’re already taking a step in the right direction.

About The Author

Mindy Peterson is a respected strategist on major transportation projects, working to build public understanding and engagement. In addition to leading communications and public involvement, she has served as spokesperson for the Ohio River Bridges Project Downtown Crossing, RiverLink tolling and the I-69 Ohio River Crossing.

As vice president at C2 Strategic Communications, Mindy puts her journalistic background to work to help our clients shine. She knows how to tell a successful story with clear and concise messaging, and she successfully delivers what members of the media need.

Mindy is a familiar voice for the community. She spent nearly two decades at WHAS radio, building key relationships with community leaders and developing trust with members of the public.

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