As a judge on TV’s American Idol, Simon Cowell often spoke of the “It” factor; that indescribable something that some contestants possessed and others did not. A good singer entertains; a singer who has “it” transports an audience.
Put in the context of communication, the difference between a good communicator and a great communicator is that a good communicator engages an audience intellectually; a “great communicator involves the audience emotionally. They take the message and material from informational to something that can truly transform their lives: making them smarter, happier, healthier, safer, more productive… whatever it may be.
If you can take your audience to that next level, they will remember what you’ve told them and look forward to listening to you again. Let’s talk about how you can do this.
One of the best ways to move from good to great communication is to know your audience. Do your homework. If you’re asked to speak in front of a group or association, understand what they stand for and what they believe in. If you’re speaking to a division of a company, learn about their jobs, know their challenges and accomplishments. Taking a real interest in your audience is a sign of respect, one they will return by really listening to what you say.
Demonstrate in your communication that you can relate their pressures and triumphs to what you experience in your own job or in your life. Don’t be afraid to show compassion and emotion, it makes you more accessible, more human.
Politicians know this. Ask someone who they plan to vote for and why and they’ll probably say it’s because a particular candidate understands them. Candidates must appeal to a wide range of voters, which means finding what each group believes in and deems important, and making themselves relatable and empathetic.
Not everyone is a born “great” communicator, but you can learn to be one.