Communication is at the absolute core of our lives, especially when it comes to business. Whether it is email, social media, phone calls, or face to face communication, we all depend on getting a message across in a way that yields results and helps us accomplish our goals.
I've found that there's one simple rule that when followed, will help you increase the success of your goal by making sure the recipient of your words is on the same page as you. When communicating, you must get to the point as quickly and clearly as possible.
Define the goal of your email immediately.
When you email someone, your email is now located in that person's inbox along with tens, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands of others. You want to save your recipient the time of having to decipher your email or trying to understand what you're asking.
The harder it is to understand the goal of your email or the longer it takes, the chances of that person responding in the affirmative decrease exponentially.
Start the email with your "Ask", or what you actually want from that person and then elaborate. Do not, under any circumstances, write a long email explaining the context and only at the end say what it is that you want. Optimize your email for the recipient's time and they will reciprocate with effort to accommodate your request.
Frame the meeting from the get-go.
There are few things more annoying than sitting in a meeting and not knowing why you are there or what the context is. If you set a meeting with someone, upon arrival, it is a good idea to introduce yourself, maybe play a little game of networking and name-dropping to establish common ground, and then, right away, frame the meeting.
Say something like, "Hey, great to meet you. I have heard wonderful things about your work from David and Michelle. I wanted to spend the next half an hour figuring out a way to collaborate. Here is what I do, and I would love to hear about your work."
Or maybe, "Hey, when Mark told me about your work, I knew we had to meet because I am looking to establish some unique marketing activities and I heard you know your stuff."
You get the point. Establish the goal early on, and then elaborate on it. This way, expectations are aligned and the rest of the meeting makes that much more sense.
Describe the context of the call at the outset.
Assuming you set the call in advance and the time is convenient for both sides, start the call with a very clear framework for what you hope to accomplish.
Here is the thing with business communication: You might want to speak to a person for very obvious reasons, and you are well aware of the context here, but just because you are, does not mean the other person is. Spell it out and assume nothing. This person might not even remember who you are, what the topic is, who introduced you, or what your name is.
I will say that before jumping on a call or meeting someone, it is important to come prepared and look over the emails that led to the meeting. But still, don't assume that the person did that, and lay out the ground work so all sides are aligned.
If you start too basic, or if you begin to lay out something that the person is already aware of, they will stop you. But it's better to be safe than sorry and have that person check out of the conversation because they are unclear what you are even talking about,
As always, the rule of thumb is, put aside your needs and assumptions, and put yourself in the shoes of the other side. Communicate efficiently and watch your communication increase in its effectiveness.