5 Communication Behaviors We All Must Adopt

I recently worked with an Indian executive based in the USA, an American executive based in Singapore, an Australian executive based in the UK, and a Chinese executive based in Shanghai. And they all complain about the same problems:

“My people need to learn how to get to the point.”

“We have too many meaningless meetings.”

“I need more context.”

Regardless of industry, native language, or country of operations, executives the world over have the same complaint – their people need to do a better job at communicating clearly and succinctly.

So if you want to impress the people around you, improve the morale of the people around you, and positively add to your organizational culture, here are some behaviors to think about adopting:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Walk into the room ready to go. Don’t wing it. Plan ahead of time what you want or need to say, what the key points are, what the value is, and what the story is.

2. Know your audience.

Avoid the “one size fits all” approach to communication. Different audiences will care about different things, require different levels of detail, see different value, and ask different questions. Think about it ahead of time, and plan for it.

If they are flipping to your last slide in the first minute or two, your audience may be impatient.

3. Get to the point.

We’re not writing movie scripts here. No one benefits from suspenseful workplace communication. Tell the audience up front what the main message is. If they are flipping to your last slide in the first minute or two, your audience may be impatient. But the bigger problem is that your message is out of sequence.

4. Provide context.

The more senior your audience is, the more important context becomes. Explain right up front, not only what the topic is, but why it is relevant to the audience. Make it clear.

5. Manage the details.

Details matters, but does your audience really need to know all the details? I think not. Be ready to go deeper into detail based on their questions and the flow of the conversation, but don’t assume that your audience will want all the detail. Be ready to provide it, but wait for them to take you there. Too much detail hurts more often than it helps.

When you are prepared, know your audience, get to the point, provide context and manage detail you will be communicating in ways that create competitive advantage for you and positively adds to the organization. And perhaps most importantly, you will be demonstrating that you value and respect everyone else’s time, because your meetings, conference calls and presentations will be efficient, clear, valuable, and will more often than not end on time. Think about how powerful those outcomes would be for your personal and professional brand.


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Dean is a recognized expert in persuasive communication. He is the founder and president of The Latimer Group, an executive coaching and training firm that that specializes in creating powerful communication skills for its clients. He is the author of two books: Move the World: Persuade Your Audience, Change Minds and Achieve Your Goals and Sharing the Sandbox: Building and Leading World-Class Teams in the 21st Century. Dean served as Chairman for the US Olympic Sailing Program from 2005 through 2012, and as Olympic Team Leader at the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London. He trained for the 2000 US Olympic Team and finished second at the US Trials. He has won seven national championships and five international championships. Dean lives in Connecticut with his family.

  • TedCoine

    Dean, this is another great post: you knocked it out of the park yet again! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with our community.

    I’ll tell you, when I saw “3. Get to the point,” my eyes lit up! As anyone who’s watched my show or met me knows, I’m very playful – jolly, even. It’s just who I am. So it really surprises people when I cut to the chase in a meeting (1-on-1 as well as group) and dive in. Yes, banter is absolutely essential in relationship building and team building. I’m all about the banter. But I’m also all about the “let’s dive in.” I can’t stand pointless “visiting,” except maybe Sunday afternoons with family around the pool. Otherwise, my two questions:

    1. Why are we meeting?
    2. Let’s stay on task!

    (Okay, #2 isn’t a quesiton. See, I’m playful even when I’m impatient.)

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Dean,

    3 is huge. Well said! Cut out biz speak; get to the point. I value running my team because I cut to the point, saving my time and team’s time too. Respect your team, by getting to the point. Trim the fat.


  • Advanced Meditation

    Point 5 is a good one and I think I fell foul of that the other evening when i met an entrepreneur type to explain All Day Mindfulness practice and business applications. Although I can speak it simply, its still heavy to the unitiated. Point 5 is telling me I over embellished so look out for that one folks!
    Peter Cole

  • Advanced Meditation

    As it happens I have an article that would give you the ability to not disregard points
    1-4 but, like me, not have to worry about them, at all. Mindfulness drastically improves all communications from speech to body language. The improvement is a simple byproduct of the removal of inner, unneeded stuff. The more goes out, the better you get, automatically and without further thought, eventually.
    Emotional intelligence another byproduct which, for those not so hot with it, is a ridiculous advantage as you tend to see things happening ahead of time and can prempt with way more confidence.
    Clearly point 5 stumped me, perhaps. Yet my pitch was succinct & to the point. It was clear to me it was going home just to much overall probably
    This is no magic, overnight bullet but it is free. The cost to you is in effort. I am new to writing but I can still tell you that you won’t read this sort of thing in the way it is here by anyone else and you will definitely have not considered mindfulness in the way I teach Give it a whirl.
    Naturally Dean this is your post if you don’t like or want it that’s your prerogative jus cancel this post. In its defense, all the info is free and it simply could not be more relevant to this article, as I said points 1 through 4. Inf act if you could peruse it yourself Dean at some time…. I leave it with you to decide on all things Sir.
    Cheers guys

    Peter Cole

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  • dicta

    You state that managers complain and the solution is that their subjects have to learn communication?
    I’ve heard that same complaint time and again from my managers… and while I can say, with a clear conscience, that I already follow your propositions (and they are useful, don’t get me wrong), some managers invariably make the error of not listening.
    So… in the end, the problem might be on the receiver’s side. Have you considered that?
    And have they considered what kind of an example they are setting? Do they follow your communication traits themselves?

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