Book Review: Simply Said by Jay Sullivan

Communicating better at work and beyond.

Let’s face it; most of us can do with improving our communication. Whether it’s written or spoken, how we communicate on a board, at work, and in other environments has a significant impact on achieving (or not) a desired outcome.

Like me, you may have received some feedback about your communication style (some call it blunt, I call it clear and concise) or you may be frustrated at people’s lack of understanding or at how slow they seem to ‘get the message’.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) the response you’re receiving from people is more due to your communication style and its effectiveness, more so than their slowness or lack of understanding. This means that the power is in your hands. Change the way you communication and you will change the way people respond.

How I came about reading this book.

It is for this reason that I came upon Jay Sullivan’s book Simply Said: Communicating better at work and beyond. I was drawn to it for its practical approach and useful templates.

Being on a board requires you to be able to clearly and quickly provide your perspective, ideas, and input into often-complex conversations. Knowing how to do that efficiently, effectively, and in a way that makes sense to your audience (that’s key) will raise your performance and the outcomes you, the board, and the organisation receives.

As a leader, at work or on a board, you will also be required to communicate important information. This is either through a speech, a presentation, or through written content.

Knowing how to share and sell your message better (something we all need to do) gives you a greater chance that you will see the results you desire.

This book in a nutshell.

This book delivers practical and easily implemented recommendations across five sections: (1) Your Content; (2) Your Oral Communication Skills; (3) Your Written Communication Skills; (4) Your Interactions; and (5) Your Leadership.

The consistent thread throughout the book is loud and clear: You are the critical factor in how effective or ineffective your communications are.

This is a good thing.

Your effectiveness is in your hands. You have the power and ability to change your communication style and start to see how different others’ reactions and responses are (hopefully for the better).

At the core of Sullivan’s message is empathy and perspective. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and understand what they are trying to gain, and you will do a better job at communicating.

Why you should read it.

We can all gain value from improving our communications across all mediums.

This book is written in an easy to understand way (duh!), and the ideas, templates, and examples are incredibly useful to instantly implement to enhance your current communication methods.

How does it relate to being a director / board member?

As a director you have to understand issues and deliver your input to the conversation in an efficient and effective manner. You may be required to make formal presentation to or on behalf of the board to key stakeholders.

On a board you need to lead and influence other leaders (i.e. your fellow board members and the CEO) and stakeholders (e.g. employees, suppliers, funders, etc.).

If you know how to communicate better, your life as a leader becomes that little bit easier. Small tweaks can return big results.

Best piece of advice?

If we put the focus on what the other person is trying to gain from the exchange, we will do a better hob communicating because we will select more pertinent information, drill down to the desired level of detail, and make the information we are sharing more accessible to our audience.” – page xiii

Personal Impact.

I am called to speak, present, educate, and influence in all areas of my board and professional career. Small enhancements and tweaks that I have made based on Sullivan’s recommendations has positively impacted how people react and respond to my messages.

It’s not like undergoing a personality transplant – which I was a little concerned about – rather; it was making small improvements to what I was already doing. Think of it like an upgrade. I now have communication 2.0 software installed.

Like any new thing you undertake, it takes practice to embed the changes. Thankfully, the reinforcement you gain from positive outcomes and responses makes it easier to continue changing and adapting.

I’m certainly not perfect, but I have significantly improved.

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February 26, 2018

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