Learning how to communicate in business – in a language that people understand – can be crucial to your success and your bottom line. Here’s why.
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash
In the 1980s there was a popular TV programme called Mind Your Language. It was set in an adult education college in London, where English as a second language was taught to people from different countries.
You might be wondering why this is relevant…
Well, since setting up Cup and String Communications, working independently I see the comparison between the students on that TV programme, how they struggled with English, and the way many of us in the communications (comms) industry use language outside of our surroundings.
The terminology used by comms professionals is like a foreign language to many business owners. People aren’t familiar with terms like ‘pitching’ something to the media, or to ‘sell-in’ a piece. They don’t always know what a ‘copywriter’ does and it’s not a given that they know the difference between an ‘advertorial’ and ‘editorial’.
How do I know this? Because I was one of those people who spoke to business people in comms language.
When I first started going to networking and business events, I used words that were common place in comms departments and noticed blank looks on people’s faces. I saw how business owners switched off. I’d lost them. Having worked in comms teams for over a decade, where everyone used phrases that we understood, it was second nature for me to speak like this to others. But from the reactions I was getting I realised that needed to change – I needed to learn how to communicate in business.
You need to communicate with people in a language they understand – a language that means something to them and their business. It has to resonate with them first. Businesses rely on sales – it’s about customers, bigger margins, and profits. For you, as a communications professional, it’s about how you can make an impact on those things with your work. It’s being able to say how you can do that, in a way they understand and believe in. It’s all about making a connection with business people in a language they understand which makes sense to them and their business goals.
If you work as an independent comms expert and are selling your services, the first step is for the business owner/decision maker to buy into you. It’s critical. And if you’re using a language they don’t understand you’ve lost the battle there and then. Gone.
You need to use language people understand – language that makes sense to them, their business and their customers.