Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Communicating more effectively as a job and career skill set 1: bringing what you seek to say into clearer focus

I began posting to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and then to its page 2 continuation when I first started writing to this blog and have continued to do so ever since. And there are some fundamental skills that I have all but continuously turned back to throughout this. One of the most important of them is the need for effective communications skills.

I have posted on an ongoing basis over the past several years now about specific work positions and best practices related to them, and I have recently been posting on careers and career paths, with a several series of postings related to that general topic area too. But I have repeatedly found myself thinking back to the fundamentals in all of this and for both individual jobs and career steps, and for building and attaining a meaningful career as a whole. I offer this as a first orienting posting on communications best practices as a delving into of what could be seen as the most fundamental of the fundamentals for all of that.

My goal for this series is to selectively walk through a set of more specific jobs and career issues and situations with a goal of using them as working examples for discussing communicating in general, at least in a professional context.

• I begin here with the question of what we seek to communicate and why. And I will focus in the balance of this posting on polishing and bringing your core intended message into focus, with an elevator pitch.
• After that I will turn to the issues of fleshing out your core message with details and supporting information,
• And I will then discuss the issues of who you seek to communicate all of that to.

Those issues are, of course, all closely related as what you say as to level of detail should mesh with what your intended audience is prepared to take in and constructively respond to. And it is at least as important to communicate in ways and through channels that members of your intended audience are comfortable with, as it is to craft your message itself with them in mind.

• And since most communications are two (or more) directional, I will discuss interaction and I add negotiating here too.
• And in the course of this series I will discuss cultural and other implicit assumptions and how unexamined assumptions can and do become communications barriers.
• And to complicate all of this I will also discuss communications as the immediate sharing of information and communications as longer-term documentation, and crafting a message so as to meet both sets of goals.

But this list as a whole is subject matter for a full series rather than just for this one posting in it, so right now my focus is on the starting point to that list and to this discussion, and on thinking through and crafting a briefly stated core message.

I have already written about elevator pitches per se in this blog, and as basic background and reference material on this crucial form of communication, I cite:

Structuring an Effective Elevator Pitch and
A Good Elevator Pitch is Never a Monolog.

The basic goal of an elevator pitch is to compress a single core message into an easily stated – and just as importantly an easily remembered form so you can share it with others and in a way they will take away with them. Elevator pitches, as more explicitly discussed in my above two cited postings, can be crucial tools in networking towards a job interview and a new job. But they can be just as important when pitching an idea to more senior management or to a board of directors while working at a job. An effective elevator pitch-formatted message can make all the difference in any other essentially marketing or sales presentation too. And at least as importantly, the process of crafting a well-considered, concise message forces you to think through everything that it relates to and that you would seek to achieve with it. So as much as a good elevator pitch can help you to communicate with others, it helps you at least as much and sometimes even more to in-effect communicate with yourself too.

If you have something important to convey, and certainly if you need to convey it to others who are busy and who have their own priorities, then think through what single point of this is most important to you, and think through the supporting details that you would have to share to convey it. Think through how you could best encapsulate your core message into as brief and clear and even memorable a form as possible. And think of this as a tool for starting a fuller and more detailed discussion where you have to take an effective first step to make that possible.

• All effective communications spring from knowing precisely what you want to and need to say, and how you can best start a conversation so you can effectively say it.

And that is my brief-form statement of this posting. As noted above, I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will at least begin to look into the issues and challenges of the details. And in anticipation of that, I note an aphorism that I sometimes use in my own communications, depending on my audience: “the devil can be in the details, but the angels can be there too.” Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. You can also find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page.

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