Happy #WellTailoredWednesday! A major part of my day job hinges on effective communication. Our team has a book club, in which we try to read one book a quarter. The Q2 book we just completed was Supercommunicator by Frank J. Pietrucha. Let’s jump in!
Focus on Communicating Through A Digital Lens
I’ll admit that I did not have high expectations for this book. Honestly, I thought this would be just another one of those tired narratives from an aging ’Boomer about how the world has become more digitized. Yawn! But alas! Pietrucha provides a refreshing take as to why it’s important, now more than ever, to be able to communicate effectively by using technology. At the root of the problem is the fact that the internet is actually rewiring our brains to think and process information differently. And to adapt to these changes, the way we transmit that information must change.
Our mandate should be to strive not just to deliver information but also to bring meaning to our audience through thoughtful explanation.
Effective Communication in a Digital World
The meat of the book highlights Pietrucha’s recommendations for communicating better. Perhaps it's the Millennial in me but, while I felt that the initial points were helpful and refreshing, I found his latter points to be very redundant and obvious.
Know Thy Audience
- Tailoring your message to your audience is key. The level of detail one audience can process vs. another audience will vary.
- When addressing multiple audiences, provide sufficient background for the novices to get up to speed and then gradually build into the more complex matter for those who are more familiar with the subject matter.
Know Thy Subject
- Make sure you thoroughly understand the idea you are communicating---this is relatively obvious.
- Never fake it. If you don't know a detail of the subject, ask an expert to explain it to you in another way (Pg 85)
Simplicity and Clarity
- Don't over-complicate an idea with unnecessary information. Oftentimes giving a one-line description is all that's needed to get the job done (Pg 88).
- Be cautious of the fact that "simplicity isn't everyone's friend": if you simplify too much, you'll be left with nothing but superficial banter. You never want to simplify anything to the point where you alter the meaning of your message.
- Writing shorter sentences, using visual aids and rich media, and leading with the main idea first are all examples of best practices---I've been trying to implement these in my work emails and in these blog posts (can you tell?)
Guidelines for Effective Communication
- This is where the content starts to get redundant. Avoid using sophisticated jargon...unless your audience is an expert with this jargon, per Know Thy Audience.
- Use fewer big words. This reminds me of Robert Mueller's reply to Rep. Jerry Nadler when he was asked to "dumb down [his report] to the American people" and he replied that "the findings were that the president was not exculpated...", which of course isn't the most colloquial word. That was just one of many major communication screw ups during his testimony BUT I DIGRESS...
Communicating the complicated is about inclusivity, not exclusivity.
Humanize Your Communications
- Being genuine is often all it takes for a message to be effectively transmitted. Telling a story, being relatable, and using case studies or testimonials are all examples of humanizing your message.
- Again, just make sure you Know Thy Audience---sometimes the audience doesn't need a human element and instead requires a straightforward narrative. Misjudging the audience can be disastrous.
Getting An Audience To Care
- Personalize, personalize, personalize. Show the audience what your message means for them and how it will change their day-to-day. This is something I'm struggling with at work at the moment, so it was good for me to learn.
- Appealing to emotion can be powerful, but don't overdo it and know when to not use it---again, Know Thy Audience (Pg 164).
Building Blocks And Analogies
- Build blocks and layers from one complicated matter to the next.
- Utilize analogies where appropriate---If the audience cannot grasp what your idea means, perhaps they will understand it if you compare it to something else (Pg 179). Again, this is fairly intuitive.
Visual And Interactive
- Okay by now we get it. "Showing" is better than "telling".
- Utilizing the internet to provide some of these visual cues will be beneficial.
Overall, this book was like one of those flights that has a smooth takeoff, has just the right amount of turbulence to keep things exciting, and then goes into a holding pattern before landing that ends up taking several hours. By the time you’ve landed, you’ve had enough and are ready to move on. While the content is redundant, I enjoyed the way Pietrucha sprinkles in personal anecdotes and insights from very smart people throughout the book. He's also very candid about his communication highlights and failures, which he has equal amounts of throughout his professional career. In total, I give the book a total of 3.5/5.
Read If You:
- Work in a client-facing role and are looking to improve your communication skills
- Work in a position where you have to frequently communicate complex ideas to an audience
- Are a Baby Boomer or Gen X-er who hasn't grown up constantly using the internet to communicate
Don't Read If You:
- Are looking for any new revolutionary ideas about how to communicate better
- Want a mindless read. This book is best for a book club-like occurrence where you can analyze your takeaways
- Don't really need to communicate to audiences on a daily basis
Be sure to check out my other book reviews here. Thanks for reading and please feel leave your thoughts in the Comments' section below!
Happy #WellTailoredWednesday! A major part of my day job hinges on effective communication. Our team has a book club, in which we try to read one book a quarter. The Q2 book we just completed was ...
- Ease of Reading4.0
- Book Length5.0