communication

4 Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes in Daily Communications

By Connie Sirois

So you're an entrepreneur or you want to be one. And your journey so far has taught you that you'll need to hire people to do tasks that you don't have the time or know-how to do: create your logo, build your website, brand your company, and more. Your journey has also taught you that you'll need to learn about marketing, social media, e-commerce, and so on. And certainly, on this journey, you have figured out that you will communicate a lot every day and that the skills needed to do this well are NOT ones that you can hire out. This part is all you, and surely, you want to impress.  

Here's the truth. Your daily communication doesn't show up as a line item on your financial balance sheet like marketing and advertising and consulting do, but when your daily communication is less than impressive, it does impact your bottom line.

So what are you to do?

You'll be communicating again in a few minutes probably, so here are four tips to help you improve your daily communication and change a potential liability into an asset. 

  1. Have an AUDIENCE FOCUS every time you communicate. (Know their needs; Respect their time.)
  2. Use the YOU ATTITUDE. (That "you" stands for the audience, not for "you" the communicator.)  Turn "I," "me," and "my" into "you" and "your." (But remember to avoid "you" for a negative. "You ruined the day" is never a good idea.)
  3. Keep a POSITIVE and CONVERSATIONAL TONE in all communications. (You'll get a better response, even for not-so-pleasant news.)
  4. Be CONCISE and CLEAR. (A few powerful words are better than many. And "clear" includes getting rid of grammatical and mechanical mistakes, as much as you may hate to think about this.)

As entrepreneurs, we have busy days, and often we will have to communicate with little time to formulate a response. These tips, once internalized, will make you a better daily communicator who is more effective and more respected by every audience. 

May business success follow you wherever you may go. 

For 20 years, Connie has taught and tutored thousands of students in the ways of communication, especially business communication. Most recently, she's launched a coaching business to bring this expertise to business professionals and entrepreneurs and work with them on communicating impressively. 

During these two decades, she's experienced the evolution in business communication. She has learned these changes, taught these changes, and gained a deep understanding of how business communication works and what clients and colleagues expect.

You can find her life and career coaching company at resetfocus.com and her business communication page at conniesirois.com

How to get your message out of your head and to your people

By Brogan Micallef

You have a message to share with the world. It’s something you’re passionate about. It’s something you HAVE to get out to your people. They need it. And they need to hear it from you.

Easier said than done, right?

Let’s work on getting your message out of your head and to your people. Effective and efficient communication is all about simplifying your message and communicating it clearly to your tribe.

Here’s 5 tips to help you simplify your message AND communicate it clearly with those who need it most.

1. Get clear on who you’re targeting

If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. The same is true of communication.

There’s countless activities, cheatsheets and workbooks on the internet to help you get clear on your ideal customer avatar (ICA), also known as your dream clients (I should know, I’ve tried a LOT of them).

It does mean putting in a fair amount of hard work now, but I promise it’ll pay off. Start by asking yourself the following Q’s about your ideal client:

What’s their name? How old are they? Are they married? Have kids? How long have they been in business? What are their favourite brands? Favourite websites? Where do they hang out online? What are their business goals? Deepest fears? Secret wishes?

Then keep going. I want you to go really deep.

Being this specific helps you draw YOUR people to you. Because who won’t want to (e-)hangout with you when you get their exact problems, concerns and fears and can deliver specific solutions just for them?

When you go to write (or film) (or podcast) anything, the best (and easiest) way to be specific is to write with one person in mind. Picture them. Pretend you’re writing just to them. They’re struggling and they NEED you to help them right now.

This approach helps you stay focused and targeted. It gets us out of our own heads and thinking about how we can help our community.

Think: Less about us and more about them.

2. Remember the Curse of Knowledge

You know more than you think you do.

Putting ANY form of content out into the world often brings up insecurities (and stop us from getting our thoughts written down). There’s a phenomenon known as the Curse of Knowledge, which is the idea that once you know something, it’s impossible for you to imagine not knowing it.

Practically, this means that things that seem common knowledge to you are incredibly helpful and insightful for others. You’ve simply forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your content clear and simple. You’re bringing a wealth of knowledge, background and experience to the table which your audience doesn’t have (yet).

Remember: We’re all at different stages and we can ALL help someone else with our experiences.

3. Be you

Ok. So you’ve got clear on who you’re targeting, and you’ve acknowledged that you know more than you think you do. Now it’s time to talk about your voice.

When thinking about your “voice”, I find it really helpful to think in terms of your “brand voice”.

Your brand voice is the voice you use when writing or talking about your business. It’s the words you use in a blog post, the tone that comes across in your social media posts, and the enthusiasm and energy you bring to your webinars.

A handy little trick I love to use is to separate your business from yourself. Imagine your biz is her own person and think: Who does my business sound like? What’s the vibe? What kind of words does my biz use? Why is my business communicating with people in the first place? What impression does she make?

Just to be clear: Yes, you still infuse a lot of YOU into your biz brand voice. But this slight shift in terminology (and the personification of your biz) gives your brain something specific to focus on, rather than the general idea of "your voice”, which is more elusive.

4. Pick social media platforms that suit your strengths

Always remember to take a step back and take every piece of social media advice you read with a bucket-full of salt.

That includes the notion that you need to be on every platform known to humankind.

You know what? You don’t.

It’s FAR better to put out QUALITY content on a few platforms, than CRAP content on many.

You don’t want to fill up people’s social media feeds with crap. You want to be known as someone who produces thoughtful, quality content that is exactly what your peeps need.

Take the time to work out what you’re good at. Base your choice depending on the kind of high quality content you can consistently produce. What’s sustainable for you?

Repeat after me: It’s FAR better to put out QUALITY content on a few platforms, than CRAP content on many.

5. Don’t copy

Copying sucks. No one has your exact story. No one shares it the way you do. So why hide that from those who need it most?

Your dream clients want to hear from YOU. Don't steal that from them.

It’s really important to keep your focus squarely on your approach, your knowledge and what’s in your head. Especially when it comes to creating.

Search for inspiration on Google. Check Facebook for another viewpoint. But let yourself be influenced by others to the extent that it clouds your voice and leaves you sounding like a copycat? No bueno!

Copying hurts the person being copied, it hurts you (the copier) and it hurts your audience (the duped). There’s enough same-same out there on the internet. Let’s bring something unique shall we?

And there you have it.

These 5 tips will help you simplify your message AND communicate it clearly with your community. 

Communicating with your audience doesn't have to be hard. And it doesn't have to drain the life out of you (and leave you feeling exhausted).

To recap:

1.    Get clear on who you’re targeting

2.    Remember the Curse of Knowledge

3.    Be you

4.    Pick social media platforms that suit your strengths

5.    Don’t copy

Remember: Your audience needs to hear your message. And they need to hear it from you. 

Brogan Micallef is the communication strategist for entrepreneurs who crave smart social media and content strategies that you can actually implement. Through her coaching programs, free resources and blog, she’s here to help you make real connections through your content, sound like yourself, get more dream clients, make more money, and have greater impact, without getting overwhelmed by it all.

And when she’s not knee-deep creating all sorts of communication goodness, you can find her indulging in some form of social media (hello Facebook and Instagram), perfecting her pilates technique and trying to control her crazy (curly) mane.

Meet Brogan and get ready to learn how to get your message out of your head and to your people at broganmicallef.com.

3 Tips For A Virtual Business

Taking-Your-Business-Virtual

By Kristy Smith

With the rapid changes in technology reshaping the way we work, it’s crucial for modern businesses to adopt a new way of thinking, and open themselves to the possibilities of ‘going virtual’

The way we do business is changing. A recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that more than a third of micro businesses now use the internet to enable staff to work from home, which represents an 8% increase in two years, while for larger businesses, more than 75% now have the facility for staff to use the internet to work from home. 

With telecommuting on the rise, the traditional 9 to 5 office workday will soon be a thing of the past. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this shift in business mindset by setting up flexible and scalable business models that allow themselves and their staff to work remotely with adaptable and accommodating schedules. Some of the benefits of ‘going virtual’ include:

Reduction in costs - with overheads such as office space and commuting expenses eliminated the costs of running business are greatly decreased. This allows entrepreneurs to create adaptable business models that can scale very quickly to suit market trends

Increases in productivity - Over two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters 2 this is thought to be due to a quieter work environment with less distractions and the ability to have a more flexible work schedule, unhampered by commuting

Flexibility – with no need to travel each day and the ability to work outside of traditional office hours, going virtual suits the busy schedules of entrepreneurs and working families alike. 

So how do we leverage all the wonderful benefits of remote working? Well the devil is in the details when it comes to setting up and working in a successful virtual business. 

1. Make The Cloud your Friend
With all the wonderful technological advances of the past 10 years, there are a plethora of options when it comes to cloud based SaaS programs you can use to take your business virtual. So do your research and educate yourself on all the necessary and relevant systems that will enable you to work remotely.  Choosing and setting up these systems should be your # 1 priority if you want to ‘go virtual.’ Solid systems and administrative practices are the foundation of a successful business. Don’t know where to start? We’ve included a handy list at the end of this article to help you get the ball rolling.

2. Communication is Key
Without the face to face office time you’d get in a traditional work set up, you need to ensure that both you and your team communicate on a regular basis. This means regular skype meetings, project updates, phone calls and emails. For example, you could set up a weekly skype call each Monday to communicate with your team and go through the status of current projects. The key is to keep in contact regularly. When working with a remote team there can be the tendency to ‘set and forget’ and you can become of touch with your own staff, so make it policy to keep in contact regularly

3. Be Accountable
There needs to be clear cut parameters around how your remote staff will work and what’s expected of them. Virtual roles need well-defined job descriptions, and project management procedures must be carefully documented and followed. Many managers say that while they trust their staff, they feel better if they can actually see them and monitor their work. There are programs such as Screenshot Monitor that can assist with this virtually, and implementing a ‘results based’ merit system that focusses on the quality and output of your staffs work is a good way to gauge that your staff are being accountable whilst they work independently.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a handy list of some of the most popular cloud based business software:

  • Project and Task Management: Basecamp, Asana, Trello
  • Accounting: Saasu, Xero, Shoeboxed
  • Email Marketing: Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Web Chameleon
  • CRM: Highrise, Zoho, Salesforce
  • Google for Business: Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar
  • File Sharing: Dropbox, Google Docs
  • Social Media Management: Hootsuite, Buffer
  • Content Curation: Feedly, Zite
  • Communications: Skype, Eventbrite, Go to Meeting
  • Blog Administration: CoSchedule

Kristy Smith is the energetic founder, director and driver of Virtual Elves, a business that provides you an understanding of how to work with a virtual assistant. Connect with her at www.virtualelves.com.au