Clear, persuasive communication skills are a source of competitive advantage in the workplace. The people who can get make their point clearly, get to the point quickly, and make a persuasive case will get noticed and be in demand. Period.
But not everyone communicates at the same level of skill. Some have natural comfort or skill, some don’t, and some are just starting out on their journey of skill development. So how should you think about skill progression? We can’t just snap our fingers and automatically be at the top skill level. It is a process, and takes time.
Let’s make this super simple. My colleagues and I think about communication skill progression on three levels: Professional, Leadership and Executive level skills. And there is a lot of detail in our rubric, a lot of boxes to check at each level. But in its simplest form, the three levels come down to the following themes:
- Professional Level communication is about being clear. When you prepare well, eliminate the fluff and the distractions, and make it easy for your audience to hear your message, you have hit the first threshold. Professional Level communication is primarily about clarity.
- Leadership Level communication goes beyond clarity. In addition, you are able to connect your audience to your message/point/recommendation. It is more than just clear. You are able to make your audience care about your topic, and connect it to their needs and interests.
- Executive Level communication goes beyond clarity and audience connection. You are also able to make it compelling. You do more than just connect. You compel people to act by clearly demonstrating the value. You are able to consistently persuade a response.
Oversimplified? Perhaps. But there is great power in simplicity. So as you pursue your own skill development, think first about clarity. Then think about finding ways to connect and make your audience care. And then think about finding ways to make your message compelling and get your audience to act.
Have a great day.