Bill Huseby speaking at CEDC



When you think about an Engineer, the first thing that comes to mind usually isn’t “good communicator.” Certainly, my mechanical engineering course work at Stanford University didn’t focus on communication skills. However, communication is important in any business. So, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the years that have been helpful in growing SIGMADESIGN.

Clear communication is essential if you want to influence the direction of your organization. I’ve watched the best leaders at SIGMADESIGN use clear communication in ways that benefit both our internal teams and clients. Good communication will also enhance your professional success whether it is at the interpersonal, organizational, or public level.

Think and “AIM”

A very simple framework to use before any type of engagement is to think and “AIM” before you start. This simple acronym will help you focus on: Audience, Intent and Message (as presented by JD Schramm at Graduate School of Stanford Business). Use this strategy before ever speaking to an audience. Whether your communication is directed to an internal team or writing an email, think about:

  • Who is my Audience?
  • What is my Intent?
  • What is my Message?

If you think about these things during your preparation of any communication you’ll become more effective. You won’t always know your audience well, but do try to think about what things will be most helpful in connecting with them.

Bill Huseby speaking at CEDC

I am asked to speak at a lot of different events. Recently, I spoke at the CEDC (Cowlitz Economic Development Council I was asked to talk about a relatively technical subject (3D Printing) to about 100 folks. Some were technically inclined and others not so much. Using the AIM approach, I assessed the Audience by taking a quick poll before I started. I focused my Intent on making the talk entertaining and engaging. I kept my Message centered on the topic: How 3D Printing Will Change the Way We Do Business. I received very positive feedback as a result.

the 3 V’s: vocal, visual, and verbal

All of your work with “AIM” however, will not help unless you also think about and execute on the 3 “V’s”:

  • Vocal – the “way you speak” – how loud, how soft, how much enthusiasm, how rapidly you address the audience
  • Verbal – the actual words that you say to the audience
  • Visual – the gestures and most importantly, eye-contact

When your message and vocalization come together, you become a more effective communicator. You will deliver clear ideas that mean something to those listening. You’ll notice that the focus of all of these techniques is the audience. The ability to develop a keen awareness of the listeners is ultra-important. Great communicators don’t just talk, they are also great listeners. They are perceptive and observe the concerns of those they are speaking with. With practice, a good communicator can tailor a message so that whether they are speaking to 10 or 10,000 to the listener it will feel as if they are being spoken to individually.

Remember, like hitting a golf ball or building a beautiful piece of furniture, the skills of communication take time and practice. As with anything, spending a little extra time on the front-end of the messaging curve will pay off with effective communication.