Maybe you’re already an entrepreneur or you're thinking of becoming one. You’re wondering what are the most important communication skills for entrepreneurs.
Let’s jump right in.
While this list is not exhaustive, it’s certainly in my mind the top communication skills to hone.
You’re doing a lot of presenting as an entrepreneur. Polishing and honing public speaking skills is a must. Whether you’re presenting on stage, in meetings over the phone, or in a Zoom conference call you need to know how to give a presentation. If you’re giving your sales pitch or your elevator pitch, you’re presenting. When you make a sales call, you’re presenting. Do you have a hook, a catchy intro, a main argument supported by data points, and an effective closing with a food for thought? If not, start there. Public speaking is feared by most people you’ll encounter in life, so you’re not alone. The other thing is that just like you go to the gym and train your muscles to be stronger and more effective, you can train to be a better public speaker.
Oftentimes, especially when you first start out, you need to be persuasive enough so that people will not only listen, they’ll want to help you. Whether that means mentoring you, investing their time, energy or even their money, it comes down to how well you’re able to persuade them of your vision and mission. You can be persuasive through storytelling. So if you’re a natural storyteller, use that to your advantage. Otherwise, leverage the power of logos, ethos, and pathos to make a strong argument.
It goes without saying that good writing skills are a must. Think of how much happens over email and messaging these days. Being able to write well is paramount. Aside from emails, which you’ll be doing a lot of, you’ll also be writing social media posts, tweets, captions to visuals, and maybe even YouTube scripts! If you’re invited to do a guest post on someone’s blog or write on your own company’s blog, you need to know how to write well. Paying attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation is one thing but also the general flow of your writing. Is there a point? Have you gotten to it clearly? Is there logic to your writing? How is it structured? What’s the “so what?” meaning why should people care to read this email, text, blog post, social media post? Make it interesting for them as well as relevant. A wonderful resource is The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. Highly recommended.
Communication is a two-way street. Listening attentively is just as important as speaking eloquently. When you’re interacting with mentors, potential clients, possible coworkers, fellow entrepreneurs, you need to give them your undivided attention. This means you need to be listening as attentive as possible. An entrepreneur is always learning, always growing. The entrepreneurs I know are resourceful, they’re scrappy, they’re constantly acquiring new skills. Listening well is at the heart of this. When you’re connecting with people you need to really hear them out. Treat every person as someone you can learn from.
Getting to the Point
You may have noticed that people are impatient. Even though we're focusing on boosting active listening, the reality is that you’ll meet a lot of people who are lacking in this communication skill. Many people are impatient and don’t feel like listening to someone prattle on. That’s just the reality. Good listeners are few and far between so don’t be surprised if you notice someone halfheartedly listening while you’re speaking with them. This is all the more reason to be as succinct as you can. Get to your point as early on as you can. Try not to be verbose, even if you’re passionate about your ideas or projects. Just get to the point and if needed, you can always elaborate. But the key is to hook them first with something catchy and pithy.
Communication facilitates interactions between people. If you focus on building these communication skills, you’ll more easily be able to find mentors, present your ideas clearly, get your team excited about your vision, and convince clients to choose you. Some of the most important communication skills for entrepreneurs are public speaking, persuasive communication, succinctness, good written communication, and active listening skills.
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