As the leaders of their organizations, CEOs are expected to effectively communicate with their stakeholders, customers and employees.
Always being in the spotlight, however, requires a certain communicative skill set. You have to ensure that employees are happy and that everyone feels like they’re in the loop on key company happenings too. In essence, it’s your job to set the tone for the entire organization.
Fourteen members of YEC share which best practices they find can help make even the most reluctant (or outspoken) leaders become more effective communicators.
1. Be relatable.
Every successful CEO makes a special effort to get to know his or her team as individuals. Get into the practice of walking around your office or engaging in informal chats. Show interest in your constituents’ (can include employees, partners and customers) lives and be willing to share some details about yours. The lower your pedestal, the more they’ll rally behind you.–Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work
2. Emphasize your key points through repetition.
I’ve been in so many banquet halls listening to some of the greatest leaders in their industries today wax on about their approach, and what they say is brilliant — but I consistently have difficulty with remembering their key points. I never want to be this way as a leader and especially as a speaker, so I try to repeat key bullet points for emphasis so that no part of my argument is lost.–Rob Fulton, Audio Luminaries
3. Keep a good sense of humor.
I like to make people laugh and naturally can relate a lot more to people when I do so. People open up with comedy — be careful, though, that you don’t go overboard or offend someone. Bringing humor into the situation will loosen up the mood and help to clearly convey the tone of your message.–John Rampton, Due
4. Actively listen.
Part of great communication is actively listening. The best communicators I know are also the best listeners. By listening, you respect the person with whom you are speaking and you also hear and understand their point of view. You can then articulate a response that is meaningful.–Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell
5. Respond in a timely manner.
Do your best to be extremely responsive to everyone, whether it is an employee, vendor or prospect. I answer questions and return phone calls as fast as possible, regardless of who it is. When you build up a reputation of responding quickly it doesn’t go unrewarded. Your team will feel appreciated, your customers will love you and it will open the door for referrals and introductions.–Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media
6. Remember that you’re always “on.”
You’re always on, no matter where you are. Everyone is always watching you and you should be prepared in everything you do. Great communicators are always prepared for the unknown: be that person.–Peter Daisyme, Hosting
7. Analogies are key.
Using analogies is an easy tool for great communication: they instantaneously put everyone on the same page and can help resolve conflict. One person’s vision of “large” may be different than another. By using clarifying questions and an analogy you can pinpoint (e.g. “Do you mean large like an elephant or like a large FedEx envelope?”), you’ll know everyone is envisioning the same end goal.–Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
8. Adapt readily to any situation.
Oftentimes as the CEO you have a clear picture of where you want to be, how you want to get there and what steps are needed to achieve your goals. When communicating with others, you have to keep in mind that sometimes you have to adapt to the situation, especially if it isn’t one that you are pleased with. —Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
9. Be present.
Great communicators are present for the people they are interacting with. That opens a channel for energy to flow and for people to feel heard and understood. Your presence is the greatest gift you have to offer. Close the laptop, turn off the phone, eliminate distractions. Be with the other person/people fully and give them all of your attention.–Corey Blake, Round Table Companies
10. Find your own voice.
Use language that’s distinctly yours and let your own values come through when you’re communicating in your capacity as CEO. Definitely be professional, but don’t make your communication overly specific to a corporate environment; you won’t come across as real. People respect authenticity and they’re much more willing to follow real leaders, not corporate puppets. Speak with your own voice.–Jared Brown, Hubstaff
11. Write everything down.
Phone and in-person conversations are valuable, but because memories are so unreliable, I write down everything. Having a written record makes a big difference. Whatever the topic, write down the discussion and the agreement so you have a record. Email can serve this purpose, but writing down the outcome of a conversation and reviewing it can prove valuable.–Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
12. Put your audience at ease.
Great communicators have a way of disarming their audience in order to put them at ease. Ever notice President Obama’s use of the word “folks” instead of “people,” or how he intersperses his speeches with the phrase, “you know?” Those are two good examples of how a great communicator attempts to put his audience at ease with calming language or colloquial phrasing.–Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
13. Customize your communication style for each employee.
Every employee has different styles of learning, so I make sure to communicate in different styles. Some people like to be walked through steps in order to learn something and some people would rather do it on their own. It is all about finding out each person’s style, and tailoring your communication to match theirs.–Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
14. Ask before you speak.
Rather than making assumptions or misinterpreting what a client or team member is thinking, I often ask. Especially when it comes to more complex scenarios, or when I assume there’s a potential disagreement. Perspective taking and confirmation leads to better, more direct communication. –Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind