There is a difference between communicating numbers and transforming them into core values, in a clear and inspiring vision of the road ahead. Therefore it is essential for the ‘modern CFO’ to develop the ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication is pivotal in reaching the entire organization.
Before exploring what makes communication effective it is worth understanding what it truly means to communicate;
Communication is active listening
It is the opportunity to understand how to put ourselves to the eyes and to the ears of our stakeholders, this is active listening mode. Evaluate your audience, in particular their body language and facial expressions and react accordingly. For example, if you start to explain any matter, observe the other's behaviour while you are talking, just change tone, jargon, posture, topic if you perceive clear signs of discomfort, carelessness or denial. Failure to adapt may leave matters unresolved or worse still leave you in conflict.
“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” Zeno of Citium
Communication is feedback
If you want to establish a constructive relationship, the most effective tool is to ask for feedback. Asking for feedback opens up a channel of communication which enables the feedback givers to feel included and valued, which may help to forge a stronger business relationship. Communication is about building relationships.
“There has to be a willingness to constantly accept critical feedback and rapidly iterate to make things better.”Sam Yagan
Communication is about reasoning
Avoid turning an objective question into a personal attack. Keep the focus on resolving the problems and look to establish a cohesive and productive atmosphere.
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” Immanuel Kant
Communication is synergy
“Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It's the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.”Stephen Covey
Communication is the culture of interaction.
Embrace the culture of inclusion and diversity, but with respect for cultural differences and linguistic ambiguities.
“A truly common culture is not one in which we all think alike, or in which we all believe that fairness is next to godliness, but one in which everyone is allowed to be in on the project of cooperatively shaping a common way of life.”Terry Eagleton
Communication requires passion
Communicate with passion and vigour. Effective communication involves all five senses and to listen, understand, and engage with one another.
“Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through to your audience before you even start speaking.”Peter Guber
Communication requires perseverance
It is the voice that tells you not to give up, to go straight forward and see what happens. Do it with style! Sharpen your communication.
Develop and shape the communication
We are not alone in taking the road to effective communication. On our journey we can take advantage of several instruments that allow us to better express ourselves by organizing our thoughts and giving more effectiveness both to the content and to the form of what we want to communicate.
We can use mind maps to connect all dots. They are useful for structuring presentations, projects and share big pictures (Project visual planning). They can engage your audience and keep the focus.
We can have fun by creating motivational posters if we want to give the key messages to our organization.
We can make dashboards and reporting, more involving and impactful through the use of customized templates like infographics.