6 key business communication skills to master

Effective communication plays a crucial role in building connections between people. When it comes to business, creating a positive first impression, sharing accurate information, persuading others, and collaborating efficiently with colleagues are all vital aspects of communication. 

While you might assume that great communicators are born with a natural talent, effective business communication is typically a learned skill that improves with practice and experience. 

From active listening to delivering engaging presentations, mastering the art of communication requires a thorough understanding of its various components.

What is business communication?

Business communication is sharing information with others. It includes any communication shared across the company, encompassing personal interactions, one-on-one meetings, communicating with external partners, giving presentations, negotiating, and offering feedback. 

Effective business communication helps reduce errors, align teams, and improve organizational practices. With good communication, team members can better understand each other and forge stronger bonds, which benefits the company at every level. 

Communication includes much more than just the words you use. Non-verbal cues, such as your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures, contribute to your ability to convey a message effectively.

The importance of business communication skills

How you share what you have to say matters: leaders who reach the top of their field study communication in all its forms (writing, speaking, and presenting) and constantly strive to improve their skills.

Effective communication skills can also help you land the job you want.

Job Outlook 2024 data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reveals that written communication skills land in the top three traits that 72.7% of employers want candidates to have (the other two are problem-solving skills and teamwork).

Verbal communication skills also made the top ten attributes, with 67.5% of employers looking for it on CVs.

So, whether you're starting your career or well on your way to the top of the corporate ladder, it pays to invest in perfecting your communication. 

What are the Five C's of business communication?

The five C's of business communication are Clear, Concise, Confident, Credible, and Compelling.

Enhance your communication effectiveness by mastering the five C's, boosting confidence and establishing command of the situation:

  1. Clear communication involves expressing ideas or messages straightforwardly and understandably. It requires avoiding ambiguity and ensuring that you convey the intended meaning effectively. Let’s say you’re in a client presentation. Clear communication entails structuring the content logically and understanding your audience's needs.
  2. Concise communication means delivering information efficiently without unnecessary elaboration. It involves conveying key points briefly and using only essential details to avoid overwhelming the audience. For example, during a performance review, a manager might commend the employee's problem-solving skills and suggest minor communication style adjustments, highlighting specific areas for improvement without getting too elaborate.
  3. Confident communication signals to your audience that you believe in your message. It involves speaking with conviction and authority while maintaining poise. In a leadership role, confidently communicating a vision or strategy can inspire trust and motivate team members. For instance, when presenting a new project proposal, articulating the objectives with unwavering confidence can instill confidence in stakeholders and encourage their support.
  4. Credible communication establishes trustworthiness and reliability by providing accurate information supported by evidence or expertise. It involves citing credible sources, data, or personal experience to substantiate claims or recommendations. For example, in a research presentation, citing peer-reviewed studies and expert opinions enhances the credibility of the findings and strengthens the persuasiveness of the argument.
  5. Compelling communication addresses the question, "Why does this matter?" by offering tangible examples, evidence, or practical steps to reinforce your points or suggestions. For example, when discussing methods to improve teamwork, referencing a recent project where collaboration was key to success illustrates the benefits of effective teamwork, making your recommendation more persuasive and applicable.

Effective business communication techniques

These techniques will help you become a more effective communicator, both polishing your soft skills and earning you a reputation for caring about those you work with:

1. Ask clarifying questions

Feel free to ask for clarification during a conversation. Clarifying questions can help get everyone on the same page and prevent misunderstandings. 

2. Be authentic 

People crave authenticity. It allows you to connect and be present in any kind of communication. People respond to authenticity because it fosters trust, builds rapport and cultivates genuine connections.

3. Ask for feedback from your team

Constructive feedback can help you understand what needs improvement and what skills you should focus on in your communication. Always ask for feedback from those you trust after giving a presentation, having a difficult conversation, or running a meeting. (Then, put the feedback you receive into practice).

4. Check for understanding

As you're giving a presentation, speaking at a meeting, or having a one-to-one conversation, check for understanding periodically. Asking your audience if they're with you and understand what you're talking about keeps them engaged and shows that you're present. If someone doesn't understand a particular talking point, clarify before moving on.

5. Practice active listening

Active listening is the fundamental ability to fully concentrate on, comprehend, respond to, and remember what is being said. It involves demonstrating genuine interest and respect for the speaker's perspective. This entails paraphrasing key points and providing nonverbal cues such as nodding to indicate understanding and engagement. 

6. Handle conflicts respectfully

You won't always get along with everyone in business or your personal life. When you don't see eye-to-eye with someone, being respectful is important. You don't have to agree with them to treat them with respect. Don't hesitate to step away if your situation is too heated. It's perfectly acceptable to suggest a pause and reschedule the discussion for a later, perhaps calmer, time.

3 examples of effective business communication in action

Below are some examples of effective communication for negotiation, conflict resolution, and change management, along with a rundown of the various business-appropriate elements:

1. Email negotiation during a business deal

Here’s an email designed to facilitate closing a sale:

Subject: Let's address your concerns - [Service Provider] is ready to support you!

Dear [Client's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. It's [Your Name] from [Your Company], and I wanted to follow up on our recent conversation regarding your business goals and challenges. I understand your concerns about [specific concerns or objections raised by the client]. I appreciate your honesty and wanted to take this opportunity to address those concerns directly.

  • Cost-effectiveness: I understand that investing in new services can raise budgetary concerns. However, I assure you that our solutions deliver a significant return on investment. We prioritize efficiency and value, ensuring that every dollar spent translates into tangible results for your business.
  • Integration complexity: integrating new services into your existing systems can seem daunting. Rest assured, our team has extensive experience in seamless integration. We'll work closely with your IT department to minimize disruption and ensure a smooth transition.
  • Measurable impact: I know you're looking for concrete results. Our solutions are backed by robust analytics and reporting tools, allowing you to track progress and measure the impact of our partnership on your business objectives. We're committed to delivering measurable results that align with your goals.
  • Tailored approach: every business is unique, and I understand the importance of a bespoke approach. Our team will take the time to understand your needs and challenges, crafting customized solutions that address your pain points and drive sustainable growth.

Thank you for considering [Your Company] as your trusted partner. Let's discuss further how we can address your concerns and support your business goals. When would be convenient for you to schedule a call or meeting?

Warmly,
[Your Name] [Your Position] [Your Contact Information]

Why it works

  1. Acknowledgment of concerns: the email addresses the client's concerns or objections, demonstrating empathy and understanding.
  1. Solution-oriented approach: each concern is met with a solution or reassurance, showcasing the service provider's expertise and commitment to overcoming obstacles.
  1. Transparency and assurance: the email communicates transparency and assurance, building trust and confidence in the service provider's ability to deliver results.
  1. Invitation for further discussion: the sender invites the client to discuss the concerns further, fostering open communication and collaboration.

2. Speech addressing ongoing interdepartmental conflict

Here’s a sample speech a leader would give to unify a divided team before a mediation session:

Team,

We’re facing a challenge that affects us all deeply. Two departments within [Your Company] are currently at loggerheads, causing tension and strain between them and organization-wide.

As you have witnessed, the situation is not ideal, and disagreements and disputes have arisen. However, we’re not going to let this divide us. We’re a strong unit, capable of finding a solution together.

That is the reason we are here today. Our goal is not to point fingers or lay blame but to face this challenge head-on as a unified team. We will not just discuss the problem but work together to find a solution.

As we delve into the issue, we’re discovering some uncomfortable truths. It’s not only about resources and recognition but also more profound matters of trust and communication that affect all of us.

Despite these difficulties, I remain committed to finding a path forward that honors the needs of both departments and strengthens our team overall. 
We must keep pushing forward, communicating openly, and supporting each other every step of the way. Thank you, team. Let us do this.

Why it works

  1. Acknowledging the issue: the speech opens by acknowledging the tension and conflict within the team, validating team members' experiences and demonstrating empathy towards their concerns.
  2. Collaborative approach to problem-solving: rather than assigning blame or dictating solutions, the speech emphasizes a collaborative approach to finding a resolution. Involving the entire team in the process fosters a sense of ownership and collective responsibility.
  3. Transparency and vulnerability: the speaker doesn't shy away from acknowledging uncomfortable truths or challenges within the team. This level of transparency builds trust and authenticity, showing that leadership is willing to confront complex issues head-on.
  4. Empowerment and unity: this leader empowers team members and fosters a sense of unity and solidarity, emphasizing the team's collective strength and ability to overcome challenges. They reframe conflict as an opportunity for growth and strengthening the team's resilience.

3. Change communication

Subject: Important Update: Streamlining Our Organisation

Dear [Team Member's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I'm reaching out to share some significant changes happening within our organization.

We're undergoing a restructuring initiative to enhance efficiency and collaboration across teams. This involves realigning departments to eliminate redundancies and improve communication. We aim to create a more agile framework that aligns with our strategic goals, positioning us for continued growth.

Your feedback during this transition is crucial. Please feel free to share any questions or concerns you may have. We're committed to addressing them proactively and providing support as needed. Rest assured, your role remains essential and valued.

While there will be some adjustments, our focus is empowering each team member to contribute meaningfully. You can expect more detailed information about how these changes will affect your role by the end of the week. I'm here to support you throughout this process.

Thank you for your dedication to [Organisation Name]. Together, we'll navigate this transition successfully.

Best regards,

[Your Name] [Your Position] [Your Contact Information]

Why it works

Acknowledging the need for change: this email opens by acknowledging the significant changes within the organization, validating the impact on team members and demonstrating empathy towards their potential concerns.

Fostering collaboration: rather than imposing changes unilaterally, the email emphasizes a collaborative approach to restructuring. Inviting feedback and questions promotes a sense of ownership and collective responsibility among team members, encouraging them to participate actively in the transition process.

Transparency and reassurance: the email maintains transparency by openly discussing the reasons behind the restructuring and its anticipated benefits. This level of openness builds trust and authenticity, reassuring team members that leadership is committed to addressing concerns proactively and providing necessary support throughout the transition.

Empowerment and confidence: by assuring team members of the continued value of their roles and emphasizing their importance in the organization's success, the email empowers individuals and fosters a sense of unity and solidarity. It reframes the restructuring as an opportunity for growth, reinforcing the collective strength of the organization.

Final thoughts

Thinking creatively about your communication approach is crucial if you want to influence and inspire your team, customers, and clients. 

Whether you're a confident storyteller or looking for new ways to resonate with your audience, get guidance and inspiration from the Storyteller Tactics Deck.


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