The number of ways we communicate with people has increased dramatically over the last decade. It’s not uncommon to spend hours writing text messages or emails back and forth, holding conversations over instant messaging platforms, and chatting via video with friends and family. And in the business world, things have evolved just as rapidly. We now communicate with clients through emails, snail mail, the web, social media, and video to get our point across.
With new ways to reach people emerging all the time, effective communication has never been more important. It’s been said that the biggest mistake people make about communication is assuming that it has occurred. In other words, just sending the message isn’t enough; you need to make sure it is received and understood as well.
To ensure the right message gets delivered to your audience at the right time, keep the four Cs in mind.
Everyone is being inundated with information. To make sure you get your point across, communicate clearly, using simple words and phrases. This is especially important when you're trying to communicate a technical matter to a client who may not be familiar with the subject matter. So in these instances, make sure to keep your message jargon-free. And if you’re communicating electronically, keep in mind that getting emotion across can sometimes be challenging. Choose your words carefully and consider if what you’re sending could be confused by the people receiving it.
Communicate consistently, whether it’s your timing or your message. If you send a manager or a client weekly updates, don’t suddenly begin emailing them monthly. Likewise, if you're in a leadership position and you provide a high level of transparency about the status of a project or the organization, continue that. When you don’t communicate consistently, you send confusing messages about what’s actually happening with your project or your business.
It’s not enough just to collect your thoughts and communicate them to your audience. Think about how your audience prefers to communicate, and let this dictate the channel you use. Not every colleague you interact with is comfortable with texting, or even using instant messaging systems. Likewise, not every customer will use social media to interact.
Compelling communication fulfills a need, spurs people to action, and resonates with the audience. Using colorful language or telling stories as you communicate will help to get your point across and be memorable. We’re consuming more content than ever before—it’s vital to create context for your story, take on the right tone, and be empathetic to your audience to effectively reach them.
The four Cs of effective communication aren’t learned overnight; they’re honed over time. Keep them in mind to shape the way you communicate with an audience, no matter who it is.