Communicating meaningfully is becoming more difficult than ever before. While technology has created an ever increasing number of ways to communicate rapidly over great distances, people are now so insulated and protected by these devices that we’re losing the skills and abilities to communicating in the most influential way – face-to-face.

There’s a real danger to the maintenance of meaningful communications and personal and professional relationships. If you become overly dependent on email or text messages, you focus on the object – not the person.

These messages are typically short, sequential and directed. There’s no instantaneous interaction or connection that allows the other person to understand the tone, inflection or emotion that is carried with the words. The sender cannot express or effectively project the elements of trust, confidence, credibility and concern that are crucial to developing and building a relationship. That failure to communicate face-to-face has a phenomenal impact on business and success.

There are certain topics of conversation where face-to-face communication will absolutely be the best way to achieve clarity and understanding needed for beneficial action, for example:

• Negotiating salaries, vacations and termination

• Resolving a dispute or a conflict between two or more people or organizations

• Seeking clarification after written communications has failed

Communicating with impact and influence face-to-face also requires discipline, determination and self-control. Begin with the following eight must have steps:

1. Make your time together count. Everyone has the right to speak. Earn the right to be heard. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Every word counts. Tailor what you say to meet your listeners’ needs.

2. Pay attention by listening for the unspoken emotions. Do not let your eyes dart away and drift off, since that signals you are no longer paying attention. Wait to speak only when the person has finished what they want to say. Hear their words and read their face so that you gain maximum understanding of the why behind their words.

3. Honor the other person’s time. Prepare ahead of time. Match the message to the opportunity. Get to the point quickly. Don’t frustrate your listener by taking too long to get the key message across. Avoid rambling and cluttering your message with unnecessary points. Ask for a clear and specific action. Watch the time. Don’t take 20 minutes when you only asked for 10.

4. Prepare for your face-to-face meeting ahead of time. KNOW your listener. What do they:

• K - Know about your topic?

• N - Need to know to take the action you want them to take in the time frame you have for this conversation?

• O - Opinion about your topic?

• W - Who is your listener? What additional information do you know about your listener to help you customize your message for them?

Tailor your agenda and message to achieve the understanding you need and to influence your listener to take action.

5. Watch your body language. Avoid non-verbal abuse. Every movement you make counts. Your behavior and non-verbal cues are as important as the words you say. Don’t fidget, act nervous or allow your posture to convey uncertainty, insincerity, or dismay.

6. Be sincere and authentic. Speak in your authentic voice. Be genuine and allow others to see the real you.

7. Maintain the power of the floor. Be interesting and remain interesting. You are losing your listeners if they:

• Begin working on their Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, etc.

• Start nodding off

• Start side conversations

• Interrupts you

When any of the above scenarios happen, Stop! Break the flow! Earn their attention! Get back on track!

8. Ask for specific feedback about the points you raised, the manner in which you presented, the way you responded. Ask for balanced feedback about how to improve and immediately begin applying this feedback.

Technology-driven communication will improve if you first focus on improving the most important method first – face-to-face communication.

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Hanke is a communication guru, author and speaker. Stacey is co-author of the book, “Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action.” As a communications guru, Stacey reveals how to develop verbal skills to influence and persuade others. How many of us can say we had a great idea, but could not do just that…say it?

Stacey helps individuals eliminate the static that plagues communicative delivery – to persuade, sell, influence or simply effectively communicate face-to-face with a clear message.

Contact Stacey for a free communication consult at 312.955.0380 or For free resources on how to communicate with influence visit Stacey’s website at