A few years ago I attended an event hosted by a successful and growing entertainment company.
The presentation was given by a number of talented directors, and showed the company’s slate of current and upcoming projects. In the audience was a gathering of highly evolved creative super-people: animators, concept artists, story developers, producers, sound designers, and creative directors.
It was both interesting and inspiring. I could barely work the rest of the day, as I reflected, thought, and dreamed about what I had seen and heard. I found myself wondering if I could present creative work as well as these highly influential people could.
That’s when I realized that something had been missing from my career and my own fledgling online business. A specialized skill I realized that, during my years toiling away as a “technician in the trenches”, had been left underdeveloped.
So I set about fixing it.
It’s a skill that I have come to realize separates the ordinary entrepreneur from the highly successful one. It’s an essential ingredient for maximizing your potential. It’s something that companies and customers are looking for.
You might have missed it, too. You probably didn’t see much of a need to develop it because it wasn’t stressed in your academics.
That skill is communication. To be specific, verbal communication.
Is Communication The “Secret Sauce” We’ve Been Missing?
While communication has no bearing on the actual quality or craftsmanship of your product or service, it has everything to do with how effectively it’s marketed and sold to your customer.
Your ability to speak, talk, write, tweet, blog, and shout is the catalyst that kicks your products and services into high gear, spreads them to the masses, and puts you in people’s minds, walls, desktops, and mobile devices.
The individual business owner can no longer afford to ensconce themselves indefinitely and quietly toil away at their craft, avoiding all human contact. In the always-on, ever-connected world we live in, to go silent is to declare ourselves out of the game.
Why Just “Making Great Stuff” Isn’t Quite Enough
You may be asking yourself at this point, “What? Isn’t making great products enough? If I just do a good enough job of making something, or offering a great service, won’t people tell each other about it and then I won’t have to?”
It’s time for a reality check. I’m sorry to say that even the best product is not going to get noticed on its own merits. There’s just too much noise, too many voices, too many messages that your customers are bombarded with each day.
You won’t be able to just create something, post it on your site or hand it over to a middleman or gatekeeper, and wait for the checks to come rolling in. You will have to do something to get people’s attention.
There’s Making… And Then There’s Marketing
Many think that you should spend just as much time marketing your product as you do making it. While marketing involves a lot of other things than just verbal communication, it is a big part of it.
For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, this is an unwelcome wake-up call. Because sometimes we like nothing better than to shut out the world, go into our happy place, and do our thing we know how to do to our heart’s content. We don’t want the outside world invading the sanctity of our personal space.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that… if you’re a hobbyist.
But if you actually want to further your business goals, create sustainable value, and take the next step in your entrepreneurial journey, you will have to learn how to be a good communicator.
Are You At A Loss For Words?
How many times have you tried to speak with people about what you do and found yourself at a loss for words?
Have you ever been at an event, business-centric or otherwise, and that dreaded question came up: “So what do you do for a living?”
I sure have. It was always easy to carry on a dialogue in my had about what my business was about. But a dialogue with another person is different matter.
Here’s the good news: good communication is like any other skill: it can be learned and practiced. All it takes is a resolution to get better at it, and a persistent and constant effort to incorporate better communication into your regular daily routine.
Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Good Communication
Don’t underestimate how much improving your verbal communication skills, even a little bit, can go a long way to improving your creativity.
It also boosts your own morale and alleviates much of the frustration you may be feeling about your message not getting across to people whose opinions matter. It adds another weapon to your arsenal of influence.
Don’t forget that verbal skills depend on a couple of other skills to be most effective: listening and nonverbal communication. (In fact, many will tell you that nonverbal is even more important than verbal.)
How Can You Begin Improving Your Communication Skills Today?
I hope this convinces you to begin a regular regimen of improving your “gift of gab”. Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources our there to help you with this. Here are some ideas:
- Put it on your “to do” list to speak to at least one new person a day about your business.
- Choose an element of communication and work on just that thing for a week until it becomes second nature.
- Join a group like your local chapter of Toastmasters that can really provide a safe place for learning to speak fluently.
I’d also like to invite you to read elsewhere on my blog about communication:
A Quick Creative Communication Challenge For You…
Now, I want to leave you with a challenge. In the next 24 hours, find one person that you can speak with for a few minutes about your business. Start the conversation with something like this:
“I have a (product or service) and I’d really like to get your opinion. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
Assuming they had a few minutes, of course, who wouldn’t want to stop and listen to an idea? Very few. Now go out there and do it!
I wish you the best in your journey to not just do business more effectively, but communicate about it more effectively as well.