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Creating a Personal Communication Strategy: 3 Vehicles for Portraying Your Brand
Laura Berlinsky-Schine

You've likely heard of businesses and organizations developing a communication plan for conveying their message, mission, and brand to their target audience. Perhaps you're even involved in strategic communication efforts at your own company. But what about your personal communication strategy?

Effective communication is key to making your vision and voice heard. It's as important for all aspects of your life, both personal and business. As a professional, communicating well can make or break your goals—even your career.

So what's your communication strategy? How do you convey your personal brand, goals, and objectives in a way that reflects your identity and makes your audience value what you have to say?

Read on for three types of communication you'll freqently encounter in the business world, when you should use each one, and how to make your audiences appreciate your message and respond enthusiastically.

1. Face-to-face

In the age of smartphones, social media, and digital tools, face-to-face meetings are becoming rarer and rarer. However, chances are, you'll have to use this type of communication at some point in your career—probably many points. You'll have face-to-face job interviews, meetings with employees to review performance, strategy, or salary, meetings with stakeholders, epending on the nature of your work and industry, and talks with your own manager. You'll probably give in-person presentations as well.

No matter what the context and to which people you are communicating, face-to-face communication requires you to cognizant of what kind of message you're sending both verbally and non-verbally. Unlike in most digital communication, you'll have to be aware of your facial expressions and maintain eye contact with your audience. If you're delivering a presentation, you obviously can't make eye contact with everyone, so pick out one or two people on whom to focus.

Silence is your friend. That doesn't mean you should sit there in silence; instead, use pauses to your advantage. Pause to collect your thoughts or take a beat. This can be especially useful when you're in an interview and the hiring manager asks you a question that catches you off guard. Take a beat to think about and reflect on what you want to say before jumping right in. If it's just a moment or two, the hiring manager won't be bothered by this or even notice. In fact, you're more likely to impress her with a well-thought-out response than an immediate, rambling one.

Asking questions is another important piece of verbal communication. While you can gauge someone's reaction through nonverbal cues (for instance, a lack of eye contact can indicate that someone is uncomfortable or upset), asking questions helps you better understand how she's reacting.

You should also make an effort to really listen when someone else speaks. Make sure to smile and be engaged, so your audiences feel like you value their opinions.Try to avoid starting every sentence with "I," so you're not making the whole situation about you. Even if you're in a salary review with your boss or a job interview, you want to make the meeting as much about the other party as yourself. It's more effective to discuss how the company or a specific process has improved under your leadership than to say, "I did this."

2. Video

More and more, people are turn to video platforms like Skype or Zoom to conduct meetings. And this kind of communication isn't limited to the business world; you probably communicate with friends and family through video platforms like FaceTime.

You may well be asked to interview for a job via video. This changes the game. While it makes your ability to communicate a bit easier in some respects—you won't have to travel to a meeting, for instance—it presents some challenges.

When you're conducting a meeting over Zoom or anther platform, you'll need to find the right location—someplace quiet with a professional-looking background. You also need to dress the part. While it may be tempting to stay in your pajamas if you're working from home, remember that your audience will see at least your top half. It's a good idea to dress professionally in general, so you're in the right mindset to conduct your work.

One problem you may encounter through the video process is connection issues. Test your equipment beforehand to make sure it's functioning properly. Have a backup communication plan in case something goes wrong, such as exchanging phone numbers so you can finish the meeting by phone.

One issue with video communication is that it's easy to forget the other person can see you. Be just as aware of your body language and nonverbal cues in this setting as you would be face-to-face. Try to maintain eye contact, and don't bite your nails or touch your face too often.

3. Written

In today's world, written communication is synonymous with digital communication. This is probably the kind of communication you will encounter and perform most frequently. For instance, you'll send emails and texts, chat with employees and managers via Slack, and engage both personally and professionally through social media.

Even when using a less formal tool like Facebook, make sure you're maintaining professionalism. It's fine to exchange a joke with a friend, but be aware of who else might see it (many employers and future employers do check your social media), and make sure it's appropriate.

When writing a work email, be aware of your tone when communicating your objectives. It's often hard to gauge tone in writing, because the other person can't see your expression and nonverbal cues. Sarcasm doesn't translate well on email—in fact, there are few circumstances under which it's a good idea to be sarcastic with colleagues at all. Punctuation and capitalization can change the entire meaning of a sentence. You might be tempted to convey urgency by putting a message in all caps, but unless it's truly urgent, this is too extreme.

Effective communication requires you to be aware of how you're coming across to the other person. Practice your different communication skills, and ask for feedback—it's key to improving.

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