For product managers, effective communication is essential. It can make all the difference between an average product manager and a great product manager.
Here are seven simple tricks that will make you an effective communicator at work:
1/ Start with the summary
Get to the conclusion first. Share details later.
This approach helps the listeners decide quickly if the information is important and relevant to them. The interested audience pays attention, whereas people who don’t get value from it leave.
2/ Keep it simple
As a product manager, you will interact with many people, each with a unique communication style.
But despite their unique style, every person appreciates simple messages.
To keep it simple, do this:
1. Avoid jargon.
2. Minimise the use of complicated words.
3. While explaining complex topics, simplify like you would for a 10-year-old.
4. Follow a clear structure: conclusion –> details –> resources –> allow them to ask questions.
3/ Take pauses
Take pauses carefully and frequently. Effectively using pauses will make you sound more confident, allow you to structure your thoughts, and make it easy for your audience to follow.
Two simple tricks to introduce pauses while you talk:
Think of the punctuation you’d use while you write the same message – convert commas to a short pause and a period to a long pause.
Replace filler words (like umm, ahh, aaaa, etc.) with pauses. Filler words make you look confused and underconfident.
4/ Listen more than you talk
Most of us believe that communication is only about delivering the message.
Unfortunately, it’s not.
The best communicators are the best listeners, observers, and signal gatherers. They spend more time understanding how the listeners consume the information and then adjust their message accordingly – by choosing the best channel, tone, and content.
Listening makes the conversation meaningful for all parties, and not only for the person delivering the message.
5/ Be upfront, not vague
If you’re asking for something – ask.
If you’re sharing feedback, be candid and make it meaningful.
If you’re refusing a request, say “no” (instead of “I will think about it.”)
Don’t mask the real message behind “nice” words or lengthy sentences. Upfront communication makes the conversation short and meaningful.
6/ Respond don’t react
Product managers often disagree with people or share conflicting (yet strong) opinions. These situations can become heated and tense. And that is when people become defensive and close-minded.
To navigate such situations (aka arguments), responding rather than reacting to the audience is the best strategy.
A reaction is impulsive, not thought through, and doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome. A response, on the other hand, is well thought out, logical, focused on the end goal, and respectful to others.
7/ Communication is more than words
Communication is not only about the words you use but also your body language, tone, channel, and other things.
Without getting into too many details, I’ll share a few critical tricks here:
1. Facial expressions are important. Try smiling and being happy.
2. Stand (or sit) straight. A good posture exudes confidence.
3. Make eye contact. Good eye contact is crucial to deliver your message nicely and to understand the other person’s non-verbal response.
4. Allow people to have physical space. No one likes to get too close while trying to consume critical information.