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Being proficient in the art of communication is one of the most important skills to master. Good communication lies at the heart of any relationship, whether it’s business or personal. Without the ability to properly communicate, humans would have trouble conveying their wants or needs to each other. It is also the foundation of any successful company’s public relations (PR) campaign. Any brand or image that needs to be related to the public requires effective communication.

In 1952, Scott M. Cutlip and Allen H. Center published the well-known book Effective Public Relations. They formulated a mental checklist of items to focus on when practicing effectual spoken communication, focusing on verbal techniques. This distinction is key since 93% of all communication is nonverbal. Everything we do, including gestures, plays a role in how we communicate with others. This checklist serves as a guide to help with the remaining 7% that plays a role in how we relate to each other.

Be Clear – Whenever a sender is conveying a message to a recipient, there should be as little ambiguity as possible. A successful message is received exactly the way it was intended. You should be thinking about your audience and what exactly your end goal should be. Sometimes having your own words repeated back is a good way to tell if you’ve been properly heard, but it’s important to only apply this technique when it will be well-received.

Be Courteous – Being an active listener is something that cannot be understated. Your audience needs to feel just as validated as you do. Keep an open mind and make sure communication goes both ways. If your audience is from a different culture, research any potential offensive gestures prior to conversing.

Be Coherent- Keep your points on-topic and stay focused. If you are lost and confused, your audience will be, too.

Be Concrete – Have a solid point that is backed by facts. You don’t want to leave things open to interpretation.

Be Concise – Too many words can be just as harmful as having too few. Limit your time to say exactly what needs to be said in order to make your point. The idea is to keep your audience engaged and on-track.

Be Correct – Make sure you are telling the truth and being honest to yourself and your audience.

Be Complete – include all pertinent information to avoid generating new questions or creating the need for unnecessary future clarification.