Today, I had the opportunity to engage in a refreshing dialogue with Ravi Chauhan, MD - SAP India who spoke with corporate communicators at NASSCOM’s Marketing Communications Forum in Bangalore.
The topic –‘What will make Communications Strategic For Business’ elicited a lot of interest and close to 20 professionals converged to debate the subject. Thanks to Ashok and Ranjana from NASSCOM (@nasscom) who organized the event at their office. The NASSCOM’s Marketing Communication Forum is a platform for communicators to learn, collaborate and grow in their domain.
To listen to Ravi who didn’t use presentation slides or any other speaking aids and yet hold the audience’s attention reinforced my belief in the power of storytelling.
There were many take-aways from the session and I wanted to share my learning here:
- Based on the type of questions asked by practitioners I could gauge that most communicators struggle to establish the importance of their functions among leaders in their respective organizations.
- Employee engagement is on top of communicator’s minds, even though most aren’t sure how it got on their to-do lists! They also seemed under pressure to demonstrate improvements in morale and sentiments within their firms.
- Probably, it is cultural – most communicators present looked to direction from leaders instead of crafting their own agendas and driving it forward. Ravi directly called out that unless communicators forced the agenda, communication would always be important but not urgent!
- We are great as individuals but need to do more as leaders. Ravi spoke from his experiences and how we are excellent at individual contribution but when it came to taking teams along often we stumbled.
- More of the same isn’t equal to better outcomes. A communicator spoke of how e-mail overload in organizations led to fatigue and less impact. Ravi called out the need to be smart about communications, revisit the approach and focus on the basics. Face to face is always most powerful.
- It is all about the message and often you don’t need to say a lot to communicate. By realizing the power of emotions, learning body language and the meaning it conveys and how messages can be presented to inspire, communicators can make a deeper impact.
- To a question on do communicators focus on ‘fun’ vs ‘business’ Ravi didn’t take much time to dismiss the former. Employees don’t get swayed by gimmicks and events done to cajole and coax. They need leaders to inspire and demonstrate genuine intent.
- Ravi made a great point about the role of communicators – to listen. By listening we are being effective communicators – we often skip this thought when we communicate. By listening you can get a seat at the table far easily than other ways. The role of the communicator is to also give honest and direct feedback to leaders, who usually don’t get it!
Overall, this interaction provided me insights into the mind of a leader and what it takes to get better with communication. Thanks Ravi for taking the time and NASSCOM for setting up this interaction.
If you attended the session, do share your views as well.