Becoming an effective communicator in 12 Steps

Maybe you’ve been in that meeting. A manager reports on the progress of a project; they go on and on. They are on point, then off on a tangent, back to the topic to divert to a deviation. As an executive or director on the board, these communications are frustrating. You want to say, “Just get to the point, please.” Becoming an effective communicator involves developing skills, knowledge, and experience in communication. Here are some steps to help you on your path to becoming a strategic communicator:

  • Develop strategic thinking skills: Strategic communication involves thinking critically and strategically about the future, not just the past and present. Practice problem-solving, analyzing situations, identifying what is next, and developing effective communication strategies to achieve specific goals.
  • Hone your communication skills: Effective communication is at the core of effective communication and your ability to influence others. Focus on improving your speaking, listening, writing, and presentation skills. Practice clear and concise messaging, active listening, and adapting your communication style to different audiences and needs.
  • Know your audience: Understand what your audience needs to know and what interests them. Tailor your communication style, language, and content to resonate with them effectively. It is often to leave the tertiary points out; if the audience wants to know these minor elements, they will ask. It is better to provide less and let your audience exercise their curiosity.
  • Understand the reporting requirements: Familiarize yourself with the purpose and intention of what you are communicating and how much time you will have on the agenda. By knowing this, you will provide the audience with what they need.
  • Clarify your message: Before communicating, clarify your main message or objective. Identify what you want to convey and what action or response you expect from the audience. Structure your communication logically and coherently. Outline key points and supporting details to ensure clarity and flow. By developing a schedule or timeline for your project or tasks and monitoring your progress, you can efficiently and effectively identify any delays, roadblocks, or changes that may impact the timeline or deliverables. These will become your primary talking points.
  • Be mindful of your tone: Pay attention to your tone and demeanor. Use a respectful and professional tone, and adapt it to the context and audience. Avoid being overly formal or too casual, depending on the situation.
  • Use simple and concise language: Avoid jargon, technical terms, or unnecessarily complex language. Instead, use simple words and phrases to make your message easily understood. Clear and concise language to convey your message effectively when providing updates. Focus only on the key points and provide relevant context.
  • Get to the point: Start your communication with the main point or critical information. Avoid unnecessary preambles, lengthy introductions, and tangental, steam-of-consciousness conversations. Instead, capture your audience’s attention by delivering the most important information upfront. Aim to express your ideas concisely. Use fewer words without compromising clarity. Eliminate unnecessary details or redundant information.
  • Provide meaningful insights and analysis: Along with progress updates, offer significant insights and analysis of the project/task. Highlight any trends, risks, or opportunities that may impact the outcome. Provide recommendations or suggestions where appropriate. Visual aids like graphs, charts, or images can enhance your communication. They can simplify complex concepts and help convey information quickly and effectively.
  • Use active listening: Effective communication involves active listening. Pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues of your audience. Observing your audience allows you to see when they are with you and when they are distracted or losing interest. When someone has a question or wants to drill into details, show genuine interest and respond appropriately to demonstrate that you value their input. It is an excellent plan to anticipate questions and discussions during project/task updates. Stay well-informed about the details and be ready to address inquiries or provide additional information.
  • Seek feedback and clarification: If you are unsure what the audience needs to know, actively seek insights from management regarding the updates you provide. Understand their expectations and adjust your reporting style or content accordingly. Use the feedback to improve and refine your communication style.
  • Practice active self-reflection: After completing your update, reflect on your communication interactions and assess areas for improvement. Analyze instances where your communication could have been more precise or more concise. Continuously strive to enhance your skills. Continually evaluate and refine your reporting approach based on feedback and the evolving needs of management.

Remember, becoming a concise and effective communicator is an ongoing process that requires practice and self-awareness and, more importantly, will improve your ability to influence others. By following these steps and actively working on your communication skills, you can effectively convey your messages clearly and concisely.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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