I've been a professional communicator for a lot of years, and here's the most important thing I've learned: Inspirational, persuasive communicators have one attribute that makes them much more effective than those who just disseminate information.
The attribute? Generosity. Merriam-Webster's defines "generous" is "liberal in giving: openhanded." In communication, generosity means freely sharing information in a way that puts your audience first.
The reason generosity is such an advantage--especially in today's world of fake news, bombast and social navel-gazing--is that it cuts through the crap in communication.
As Beth Hayden wrote in Copyblogger, generosity works because it "pulls people toward you and your message. Instead of chasing down prospects and begging them to pay attention to you . . . you attract your perfect customers and clients to what you give away. They come to you."
How do you achieve generosity? Here are 7 essential ways:
- Make sure you truly understand what your audience members need. (This takes work because you can't assume that audience members are just like you.)
- Be clear about your own objectives and how those desired outcomes align with audience needs.
- Choose a communication method that both appeals to the audience and meets your objectives. For example, Twitter or Snapchat may be fast-acting and convenient, but neither is an effective way to create deep understanding.
- Shape your message so it's immediately clear and understandable. But . . .
- Don't assume that 140 characters (a bite) or a 150-word email (snack) will satisfy the audience's appetite for content. Provide a way for audience members to feast on details, if they need them.
- Leave room for listening. Remember that "communicate" is a verb, and it should be a participatory experience. Don't assume that sending a message means you're done.
- Be humble and kind. I've got three decades of experience, but I learn something new every day.
And one more thing: You're communicating with people, who are messy, needy, emotional and human. The more you approach communication with an open heart and helping hands, the more successful you'll be.