What is a guru? While we like to think of ourselves as simply experts in our fields, it often comes down to how well we can tell our story. It doesn’t matter what field you are in; if you want to lead, inspire and educate others, you are going to need to have strong communication skills.
At its foundation, communication is simply the imparting or exchanging of information or news. If this were all that had to be done, everyone would be able to communicate well, and there would be no need to think about how we can communicate better. But in the real world, we all have experienced the difference between good communication and bad communication.
We have all experienced moments where poor communication got in the way of completing a project or in the way of building a healthy relationship. We have also seen times when two people were saying the same thing but were unable to see that they had common ground. Communication includes everything including what we say to others, how we say it and even where we say it. If we want to stand out, we must always be revising our communication so it can shine.
Where We Talk: Paths to Spread Your Message
When we hear communication, we might imagine standing in front of a large crowd such as at a Ted Talk. We might imagine feeding off the energy in the room and giving a fantastic talk. While these types of events can be both powerful and meaningful, we find our audience can often be found in other places. Today you are just as likely to be meeting with your community on a website, a blog, or Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, as you are meeting them at a conference or convention.
No matter where you tell your story, one thing that will always be important is being able to respond to those you are talking with. If you can build a reputation of listening to your audience, you will be able to create a loyal following. If you do not while you may be able to get a high number of likes or clicks very quickly your audience will move on to someone else. If you only talk and do not make time to listen, you will soon find you are just speaking to yourself.
In addition, if you are talking with others, it is important that you understand the security features of where your words are going to be found. This might look like making sure you have a safe way to collect data. If you’re an accountant, you’ll want to use a specially-designed client portal for accountants to collect sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other financial information. If you’re in the medical profession, you’ll want to use HIPAA-compliant software to manage your patients’ records. And if you have an e-commerce store, you’ll want to make sure your customers’ payment information is safe from hackers. One of the quickest ways you can lose a loyal following is if they experience identity theft because of a data breach.
What We Say: What Do You Want Your Story to Be?
If you want to be able to communicate well it is important that you become a great storyteller. You will find that a good story is worth more than a bunch of facts and data points. People tend to become lost in a good story and can later use those stories to help them overcome challenges in their own lives.
We have all told stories in some shape or size since the days our ancestors used to sit around campfires telling tales to understand the world. In all the years that have followed telling good stories has not changed much. You have a wonderful personal story that can change how others see themselves.
On the other hand no matter how well you know your story nor how many times you have told your story you always want to improve your writing and public speaking skills so that your passion shines forth and you are clearer in what you want to say. You do not want to allow your communication skills to keep you from sharing your story with others.
Empathy and Realness: The Next Level
If you want to build a connection with your audience, you need to focus on building empathy within your community. Helping others create more empathy in their lives will help you create a safe space where people feel comfortable being vulnerable and sharing ideas, stories, and dreams with others. We live in a time when many of us feel a lack of belonging and feel like no one can understand what we are going through. If you can create communities where people feel empathy towards themselves and others your followers will stay loyal to you.
In order to create such empathic communities is it important that you make sure you are staying true to yourself. Others want to see you as a human being who has struggled and yet has overcome, and who has faced dark days but has come out the other side of them. People can tell if you are real and if they do not think you are, no matter how good your story, how much empathy you have, or how you get your ideas out there you will struggle to succeed. Being honest in what you say and write will help build a level of trust that will take your story to the next level. As the adage goes to thyself be true.