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Communication is at the heart of everything we do

Doing it effectively can really help the management of your group or club. Communicating effectively is an important skill to learn.  It can make running your club a lot easier, helping you to engage with and motivate players, members and volunteers.

If you need help with becoming a more effective communicator think about the following steps.

Consider your message

If you are involved in the organisation of sport in any way, you will need to communicate with many people, including members, players, parents, officials, the media, sponsors, schools, suppliers, your governing body etc. The list goes on.

Be clear what messages you want to give to each and why. Consider: 

  • Why are you communicating? 
  • Who are you communicating with and what do they need to know? 
  • What do you want to say and how is the best way to deliver this message? 

Good communicators know that less is often more. Good communication should be efficient as well as effective. 

Be a good listener

It can be easy to focus on speaking. However, to be a great communicator, you also need to step back, let the other person talk, and listen actively. To listen actively, try to do the following: 

  • Give the speaker your undivided attention 
  • Look at the person and pay attention to his or her body language 
  • Nod and smile to acknowledge points 
  • Occasionally repeat back what the person has said to confirm understanding and show you are listening 

Think about questions

Asking questions is a vital part of effective listening. A good question is brief, clear, focused, relevant and constructive. It often helps to prepare questions in advance to get you started and keep you in track.

When asking effective questions remember to give your audience time to think; a little silence can get you a much more thoughtful response. 

There are many different types of questions that you could ask, including the following.

Open questions
These do not invite any particular answer, but they do open up discussion and encourage people to share opinions. They usually begin with what, why or how. "Tell me" and "describe" can also be used.
Closed questions
These are questions that are generally answered with a yes or no response. They are useful in making a decision or checking understanding.
Fact finding questions
These questions are used to get more information about a particular topic.
Follow-up questions
These are aimed at obtaining an opinion or gathering more information to complete the picture.

Choose the right method

Think about the message you want to communicate before you decide on the method of communication. With so many choices available, it is important to consider which is going to be the most effective way.

Different channels have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, using e-mail to send simple directions is practical. However, for a more complex task or one that involves emotion, it may be best to arrange a time to speak in person.

When you determine the best way to send a message, consider the following: 

  • The sensitivity and emotional content of the subject 
  • How easy it is to communicate detail 
  • The receiver's preferences 
  • Time constraints 
  • The need to ask and answer questions