Today’s post was written by Amy Cunningham – a PR and communications consultant specialising in blogging for businesses and senior executives. Amy is also my blog manager and the other half of The Leader’s Digest.

Amy Cunningham, MD, Cunningham Communications

Communications and leadership are inextricably linked. It’s just not possible to be a great leader without having a razor-sharp set of kickass comms skills.

Poor (or lack of) communication is one of the biggest challenges (and often one of the most common downfalls) facing CEOs, managers and organisations today. Fortunately there are some simple tips that can help.

Here are 4 tips for becoming a communications rockstar:

1. Know your key messages. It may seem obvious, but taking time to fine tune and practice the message (or messages) you want to convey is always the first step. Whether you are preparing a speech, announcement, presentation or performance review, always be clear about your ‘who, what, why, when and how’ i.e. who your audience is, what you need to say, why you need to say it, when the best time to say it is and how you will say it.

While crafting your message/s, ask yourself – what do I want people to say/feel/think/do when they hear this? Will my audience resonate with this? What are the potential outcomes/risks? How will I/we manage or mitigate these?

2. Use bespoke channels. Now you’re clear about your message, consider the delivery. Think about the channels that will reach and engage your audience the most effectively. If you are talking to stakeholders, it might be an email newsletter and/or media release. If you are speaking to consumers it could be LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook. If you are speaking with a direct report, it might be a one-on-one meeting. Or, it could be a mixed tape of old and new school grooves. Whatever you decide, always make sure your message is consistent, clear and tweaked to suit the context.

3. Tell stories to win hearts. Your tribe wants to respect you – but they also want to LIKE you. Telling stories that help people get to know you, delivered with a sincere and authentic ‘voice’, wins hearts – not just minds. Stories are a powerful force for building community, capturing imagination, exerting influence and developing trust. Blogging is a great way to harness the power of story telling – see here for more on why CEOs and senior executives should blog.

4. Have a conversation, not a monologue. Social media has changed the way we communicate and I reckon we’re better for it. Why? In one word, interaction. We all know one of the tenets of great leadership is to ask, not tell. Social media HELPS us to do this. Engagement is two-way, instant, real and incredibly valuable…so what are you waiting for? Use this to your advantage. Ask questions. Provide solutions. Garner feedback. Be the problem solver. Most importantly, join in on the conversation.

A few more morsels (randomly beginning with the letter ‘b‘)…don’t blame, don’t blabber and be aware of your body language – use your body and facial expressions in your delivery. Together, they make a powerful combo.

Do you have any tips to add to the list above?