by CIO Staff

Speaking Effectively to Influence Others

Jan 01, 20072 mins

When you talk, do people listen? Since much of the CIO role now involves communicating with a variety of audiences, an advanced, nuanced vocabulary can help you get ahead. Current and aspiring CIOs need to use words effectively to influence other executives, sell strategies to board members and relate to IT staff.

Here are a few tips on how to increase your word power and communicate more effectively:

¿ Learn how to learn words. Read more, from a wider variety of sources. Look up unfamiliar words and use mnemonic devices to help you remember them. “When you see a new word, connect it to something you know,” says Renee Mazer, creator of “Not Too Scary Vocabulary,” a CD aimed at helping teens and adults improve their vocabulary skills. Take the word draconian. It looks like Dracula.

¿ Think about how you use language generally, not just individual words. Steve Heckler, a Los Angeles–based executive coach and IT consultant, says he encourages IT executives who make presentations to “think it out, which sometimes means writing it out, and speaking it out loud so you have a sense of, ’How does it sound to me? Is it credible, is it accurate, is it complete?’”

¿ Know your audience. Choose words that everyone you are addressing will understand and, more importantly, respond to. “Tell them what they need to know using the most concise words,” says Shelly Carlson, manager of Powerful Speech, a Chicago-based executive coaching firm. “Are you talking to the sales staff or fellow engineers?” The most successful executives, she says, do two things well in every meeting: “They know exactly what they want that specific group to do when they leave the meeting, and they inspire them to do it.