People develop perceptions as quickly and easily as doing a fist bump. If you speak too slowly, people question your intelligence. If you use filler words such as “um,” “uh,” “like” and “you know” excessively, people question your knowledge on a given topic. Speaking too quickly causes people to believe you’re nervous or anxious. If you don’t consistently make eye contact, perceptions around trust may set in. The list of communication pitfalls and associated perceptions is long.
How important are communication skills in business? Try to find a job description that doesn’t emphasize the importance of “excellent communication skills.” What’s more? The emphasis on strong communication skills elevates with each step up the corporate hierarchy.
However, very few companies invest in their employees’ ability to communicate. Many don’t know how to administer communication training, and those that do often limit its access to a chose few and fail to deliver communication training on a regular basis. As a result, the training fails to make a lasting impact.
So, new hires join the ranks of mediocre communicators, which costs companies hard dollars and productivity, and can ultimately put a company’s position in the market at risk.
Old School Communication Training Is Cost Prohibitive
When companies do invest in communication training, it is generally a professional boost for the elite as they climb the proverbial corporate ladder. Traditional means of communication training are too expensive and complicated to roll out for some businesses.
C-suite executives usually enroll in communication effectiveness programs that can last many months and likely include a personal coach with hourly rates that start at roughly $300. If the training is made available to a broader group, it’s usually offered in the form of a course that’s taught by an outside firm, a coach or online. Fees often begin at approximately $1,200 per person.
But cost is not always the greatest challenge training managers face when looking to deliver communication training. Scheduling time away from the desk/office/phone can be an issue for top executives in need of training. Additionally, performance measurement accuracy and inconsistency as well as implicit biases are almost always part of the experience.
Poor Communication Costs Companies Big Time
According to research conducted by Grammarly and Harris Poll, poor communication cost U.S. corporations $1.2 trillion in 2021 in the form of lost sales, lost customers and lost productivity. From a leadership perspective, poor communication is quantified by a $26,000 loss per employee according to research by SIS International Research cited by Integrity Solutions. These are staggering figures that, once realized, leaders would be moved to address. But how?
First, think about times you’ve listened to a poor communicator. Maybe they were distracting, stumbling, trailing off or setting the wrong tone, which can be uninspiring and even make people feel uncomfortable. Think of the opening statement by the “other” defense attorney in the film, “My Cousin Vinny.” As you consider times you’ve encountered poor communicators in your organization, you can see how poor communication impacts the bottom line.
Good communicators know when to be passionate, solemn, humorous, forceful and demanding. They’re fully engaged in that specific moment, know their material, create an emotional connection to their message to make you laugh, think, bristle, buy, take the hill and more. Good communicators know that it’s not just about what they say, but how they say it. They know how to blend content with verbal and non-verbal skills to deliver a persuasive and compelling message. This level of communication mastery is a significant differentiator and competitive advantage. But, how do you achieve this level of communication effectiveness?
Affordable and Scalable: AI Allows More of Your People to Up Their Communication Game
What if you could expand the number of people in your organization who are actively encouraged to improve their ability to communicate to include the entire management team? What about every employee? How would that ultimately impact engagement, morale, productivity and profitability, not to mention client relations? Enter: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML have been buzzwords in the corporate world for some time now. (Remember “big data”?) An AI/ML system references massive databases to compare behaviors, images, offer conclusions, make predictions and provide insights into past and future trends, and much more.
When learners participate in AI/ML-driven communication training, the benefits are immediate: AI/ML makes communication effectiveness training affordable, manageable and scalable for businesses so that all employees have access to the training they need to become effective communicators.
By investing in communication training for all employees (not just senior leaders), learners receive the development they need to advance professionally and move company metrics in the right direction. For these reasons and more, communication effectiveness is fast becoming the new frontier for competitive differentiation.
AI Makes Communication Training Quicker, Easier, Better…
When a learner receives in-person communication training, their instructor assesses whether they’re properly relaying the verbal and non-verbal elements of the message. Even in cases where trainers video record learners, it’s nearly impossible to get right as there’s a multitude of attributes to consider — eye contact, facial expressions, voice intonation, speech velocity, filler words and more. AI has the ability to measure these attributes simultaneously, quickly and consistently.
For true success, the organization and its leaders must value and believe in the power and benefit of effective communication among its workforce, and especially among leaders. The importance of effective communication should be reflected in the company’s culture, and expected of everyone, regardless of their job role.
When it comes to delivering communication training at scale, AI-powered tools give you the “how” you need to make it happen. By leveraging AI-enabled video coaching technology, your organization will benefit from effective communicators who can drive business growth.