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Three Simple Steps Required to Be an Outstanding Communicator

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication." -Mike Krzyzewski

We hear about it all the time, "oh, communication is so important."

As someone who has the privilege to observe coaches of youth basketball, I get a perfect opportunity to watch constant communication throughout the day. And....lack thereof.

I want to share three tips on communication & why I feel they are so important.

Three Tips to Become a Better Communicator

1. Common Language: When we communicate with the group of people we are leading, there must be a common language. A common language can be related to your work environment.

Example: If I am coaching a basketball team, I want every single person on my team to know the terminology I use for teaching the game.

Story: In my first year as a coach, I was yelling instructions for my players to cut to the basket. But they had no idea what I was talking about. They didn't know what I meant by "cut to the basket." So I had a realization that I need to teach them how to do it & adopt the common language of basketball. First had to explain to them what cutting to the basket is. Then demo it & reference that when I move closer to the hoop, I am "cutting" to the basket.

1. Be Specific: To be outstanding communicators, we have to be precise in the directions, expectations, & instructions we give.

Example: What do you think is more specific? Show up early to practice. Or show up 10 minutes early to practice.

Story: Earlier this week, I asked our coaches to work on skill development than play 2 on 2 or 3 on 3. It was a very vague assignment of mine and poor communication on my part. I should have given them a couple of skills they could work on & for how long. Then at this time, you will transition to playing 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 for a specific amount of time.

1. Tone & Body Language: Over 50% of our message comes through our tone & body language. It directly impacts the message.

Example: My shoulders are slouched & my voice is soft sends the signal I am not very confident in my message. Or I am screaming in a cruel tone at the top of my lungs to figure it out. Both tones & postures send different signals.

Story on body language: When I was interning for a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club in college, I got some great advice. During a big donor meeting, I was unaware that I was crossing my arms the entire time. Luckily, my supervisor let me know that "hey, you probably shouldn't cross your arms because that shows you don't care."

Story on Tone: I do my best to communicate to the athletes I work with in a positive and friendly tone most of the time. But on the days when I feel like they are goofing off, I use a different tone. It may sound it harsher or tougher, so they know, "oh okay, coach is serious, I better get my act together."

What other tips would you add to being a better communicator?

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