Communication agility can help you fit your message to your audience

The best way to ensure peak physical performance is to maintain a regime of exercise to keep our bodies physically fit. In much the same way, exercising one’s mind, skills and capacity to utilize applicable tools is essential to achieving and sustaining an edge in today’s business world.

A virtual daily diet of expert blogs, articles and informational videos provides a readily accessible source for bolstering most of these critical skills. Yet surprisingly, there is one pivotal area that is too often neglected. We’re referring here to the agility of communication.

The first consideration when preparing a presentation is who is your audience? Adjusting to the needs of your audience is all about communication agility. Your choice of words, phraseology, body language and even facial expressions are different when addressing a group of C-level executives compared to an audience comprised of your peers.

To increase your communication agility requires a commitment to doing your workouts, so let’s focus on four audience workouts. By utilizing these workouts, you can practice how to read your audience and adjust the velocity of your communication to positively impact the interaction, be it a casual conversation, introductory meeting or important presentation.

Audience No. 1 Workout Your audience is fast-paced and direct.
I encourage you to demonstrate confidence, get right down to business and don’t waste time. Your agility comes when they clearly recognize that you are committed to helping achieve the results that are important to them.

Audience No. 2 Workout — Your audience is lively and engaging.
Your workout challenge is to quickly connect this audience to a bigger picture and to aspirational ideas that focus on their success. Your agility is demonstrated by having the patience to allow audience members to come to their own conclusions about the value you will deliver.

Audience No. 3 Workout — Your audience is moderately paced and thoughtful.
This audience appreciates kindness, can be risk adverse and places high importance on teamwork. Your agility is established when they recognize what you are communicating, which helps minimize risk and is in harmony with what they perceive as good for them and their team.

Audience No. 4 Workout — Your audience is reserved and somewhat skeptical.
This audience is committed to accuracy and quality. Your agility is recognized when you take the time to outline what you want to discuss and provide the requisite data to support your position. Most of all, be precise and give this audience time to think things over.

I recently heard someone say every week you should focus on achieving a random act of connection; this is a perfect way to practice your communication agility. Each week, find one opportunity to connect or reconnect with a person.

Use the communication muscle that you gained from your audience workouts to find a way to make a connection that counts. You know it when you see it. It’s this human-to-human communication agility that could make an impact in their life and yours.

Judy Bodenhamer is co-founder of the Client Experience Institute and president of Revenue Resources.