Business owners: Are you getting your message across?

Improving your personal communication skills can help in growing your business – don’t let the way you speak or write let you down
When you’re trying to grow your business, probably the most important skill you can have is the ability to communicate effectively. For existing and potential customers you are your business and they will judge you by how well you get your message across. If you can’t present a businesslike image, why should they do business with you? If you have any employees, this applies to them as well. Are they representing your business as you want them to?

Unfortunately many business people feel they let themselves down as soon as they speak or start to write something. There are various reasons for this – some feel their spelling, grammar and punctuation is not up to scratch, some think their accent or the way they speak does not fit the image they want to present, some lack conversational skills. With others the problem is lack of confidence, or downright nerves, especially if they find they have to make a speech or give presentations. There are also those who have never been properly taught how to write effectively, or how to produce effective reports, essays or letters.

Luckily, help is available from professional tutors and trainers. I have spent most of my career in communications, both written and spoken, and I now run my own business teaching communication skills to individuals and groups. This has taught me that most people can improve their communication skills, often with only a small amount of guidance, as long as they are willing to learn. Personally I cover a whole range of concerns from controlling nerves and speaking confidently in public, to the correct use of English grammar in writing. Then there are more technical skills like voice projection and Powerpoint presentations. No two clients need exactly the same kind of help, so it’s important for a tutor to tailor teaching methods to particular cases.

Very often people are unsure exactly what help they need. They are just aware that they are not expressing themselves effectively – maybe at meetings. We have all had that feeling of walking away from a conversation and realising we have not mentioned the very thing we wanted to say. In a business context that could make the difference between getting work or losing it.

As a private tutor I most often find myself dealing with elocution, accent reduction, confident speaking, conversational skills, interview skills or public speaking, although this list is by no mean exhaustive. When working with groups (for example if employer wants me to work with their staff) I will arrange workshops which tend to cover effective writing, English Language for grownups, presentation skills and how to prepare written and oral briefings. Again this is not an exhaustive list and I am happy to work with employers to supply bespoke training based on their requirements and the skill levels of their staff.

It’s all to do with communication. Ask yourself – are you (and your employees) getting your message across? If not, speak to someone who can help.

(This article first appeared in the Derwentside Business Magazine – www.briarybusiness.co.uk)