What does the world of communication look like right now? What are the barriers to getting our point across today, at this moment in time? There are a bunch, and none of them are inconsequential.
Truth #1: The world continues to be a really noisy place. There are lots of people and things competing for attention span and mind share, and it is a lot harder than ever to be heard. Here’s a fun little way to prove the point. According to the Nielsen Ratings, of the top 20 most watched television sit-coms of all time in the United States, the most recent aired in May 1998 (Seinfeld finale). And the most viewed television show of all time was the final episode of MASH, which aired in 1983, and was watched by over 100 million people. The most watched television show of 2020 was watched by less than 25 million people. Fact: It is a lot harder to connect and capture attention than it used to be.
Truth #2: Remote platforms allow for a high level of distraction. I will simply refer to some informal polling I have done over the last ten years. In every workshop I have ever taught, I always ask the following question: What percentage of conference calls do you allow yourself to multi-task on? And the average answer I hear is around 90%. Everyone does it. Fact: Remote communication makes audience connection even harder.
Truth #3: Remote platforms are our primary form of business communication right now. Perhaps you have heard, we have been enduring an extended health crisis for the last fifteen months. The vast majority of the work force in many (but not all) industries continues operating remotely, which means we rarely see each other. The only way we can connect is via a platform that historically allows for high levels of distraction and multi-tasking. Fact: When remote platforms are your only option, audience connection is even harder. (Do you see a trend here?)
Truth #4: A challenging economy means there is even more competition for sales, resources and support. Even under the best of circumstances, getting internal support for your idea or project was hard. And external sales are never easy. But while the economy has been relatively strong for the last few months, and even though it seems like we are seeing the end of the pandemic, I know of very few companies that are not continuing to conserve and protect their financial resources… which means that the internal competition for those resources continue to be under pressure. Fact: Every dollar being spent right now, in every company, continues to get scrutinized to a very high degree.
So let me summarize all of that for you. We live in an era of heavy distraction, remote platforms have always made it harder to capture attention, remote platforms are all we have right now, and it is hard to get people or companies to say “yes.”
In other words, your communication skills have never been more important than they are right now.
So what do you do about it?
First, realize that your communication skills are not a “soft skill” anymore. They are a mission critical power skill.
Second, you better dial up your preparation. Showing up unprepared is an invitation to be ignored, and a blow to your credibility.
Third, you better take a realistic inventory of your communication tool box, and work on some skill building.
There has never been a more important time to be good at this.
Good luck and have a great day.
Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?
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