The 3 Communication Skills That Are Most Important to Your Career Today
Becoming an excellent communicator is not just an option in the professional world. It’s necessary for career success, especially as much of the working world continues to shift to digital communication methods and remote work instead of in-person conversations.
That said, there are a myriad of career communication skills to polish in this day and age, but what are the most critical ones? What communication skills for your career are most worth you and your team’s focus as you strive for success with each other, your company at large, and your partners?
Below are the top three career communication skills that we believe are the most important for ongoing, remote work success.
1. Improve your digital body language
Have you ever wondered how you come across on Zoom or Google Hangout calls? Or, how your tone of voice or intent is understood in email or Slack channel messages? Here are three key things to consider for remote work and your digital body language.
The medium itself
One of the most important things to understand about digital body language is that the medium through which you decide to send your message is a huge contributor to the message in and of itself.
Some channels like Slack, Google Chat or Microsoft Teams chat may be best for relaying urgent messages or for encouraging a teammate to quickly open and address an urgent email that you’ve just sent. On the other hand, emails or calls may be best for topics or requests that take a little extra explanation.
The timing of your message
Understanding who should receive messages quickly and what topics call for a fast response is critical for great digital body language.
If the message you’ve just received is client-facing, if you’re working to meet a deadline or if your boss messages you with an “urgent” flag symbol, then it’s likely best that you answer that message as quickly as possible, to show respect and a shared sense of urgency.
The only way we have to display emotion through writing is through punctuation and symbols. Our advice is to keep it simple.
Don’t overuse commas or exclamation points. If you’re worried about the way your tone is coming across, oftentimes emojis can be an incredibly helpful way to portray an emotion accurately.
2. Speak with clarity and concision
Talking a lot in a remote work meeting, whether that be to impress your boss and teammates or because you think you need to, is usually a very ineffective way to communicate.
When communicating, work on saying just enough and conveying your message in as few words as possible. “Rambling” is just a recipe for boring your audience or even worse, frustrating them because they can’t seem to understand your long-winded point.
On the other hand, speaking concisely helps ensure your audience understands what you're saying and how to respond. If you present a concise message during a remote work meeting and it is not understood well enough the first time around, then you might go back and re-dictate it to provide clarity.
3. Prepare for, stay focused during, and follow up on remote work meetings
How many times have you left a remote work meeting completely confused and unmotivated? Perhaps it went on for far longer than you expected and you found yourself frustrated and unwilling to listen at some point. Perhaps you wanted to add something to the meeting, but there was no time to because your teammate and boss talked about one subject for more than half of the meeting’s time.
Preparing for, staying focused during, and following up on remote work meetings are all critical aspects to ensuring that remote work meetings are effective.
Prepare for your remote work meeting
It's helpful to create a detailed agenda that includes all topics that must be discussed at this particular meeting. Creating an agenda also helps you remember your talking points, so you can think less about remembering them and instead focus on communicating them clearly.
If some topics are more urgent than others, put those at the top of your agenda in case you run out of time. Do your best to ensure that all topics are covered and that each teammate has the chance to speak by setting up time allotments for each topic.
Let your team know this meeting is happening as soon in advance as possible and send your agenda out a few days before to give your team time to add in topics or come prepared with talking points.
Stay focused during your remote work meeting
Try your best to stick to the agenda you’ve created. Sometimes it’s helpful to assign someone to the role of "meeting administrator."
This person can keep presenters on track time-wise or suggest that a conversation that is going down a rabbit hole should be discussed again at a later time, perhaps in an additional meeting. Consider requiring that laptops are face down during meetings unless the meeting specifically calls for computer-based work.
Follow up on your remote work meeting
Perhaps the most key aspect of any remote work meeting is ensuring that action items are assigned to teammates who will be held accountable for completing them. How many times have you left a meeting unsure of how you’re expected to contribute to resolving what was discussed?
By sending out an email or message with action items and assigning team members to complete those items by a certain deadline, you help make these meetings actually matter—increasing their importance and level of productiveness.
Which communication skills are most important for your current career goals? Share with us on Twitter @poisedhq!
Learn about your communication skills. Poised is a digital communication coach that gives you real-time and personalized feedback for your online meetings. Join the waitlist here.