Recently, Petra Coach presented a webinar, Communicate Like A Boss with Certified Petra Coach Bill Hankins.

You can find the full recording below.

Top Takeaways

6 Principles of Effective Communication

Great Speaker vs. Great Communicator

  • A great speaker might know how to craft strong arguments, deliver their message, and move their audiences.
    • Those things by themselves result is one-way communication and a short-lived connection with listeners.
    • You see this in politics a lot (“vote for me”, “support this policy”).
  • A great communicator, on the other hand, puts the listener before the message.
    • For them, the focus is on creating a dialogue.
    • The outcome is two-way communication with a deeper connection with the listener.

Snowball Effects of Poor Communication

  • Delay or failure to complete a project
  • Low company morale
  • Missed performance goals
  • Failure to close sales
    • There’s really no area of the company that’s spared by poor communication by its leaders

“Seek first to understand, then be understood.” -Stephen Covey

Book Recommendation: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Orange = Understanding

Grey = Being Understood

Principle 1: Active Listening

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” -Epictetus

Why is Active Listening Important?

  • Communicates to the other party that you care about what they’re saying and builds trust
  • Helps the speaker get their full message across
  • Allows you to draw out information that might not otherwise be shared and can lead to better ideas and outcomes

What Great Listeners Do

  • Ask questions and dig for deeper insight
  • Create an environment where the other person feels supported and able to share ideas openly
  • Treat conversations as cooperative, not competitive, with feedback flowing smoothly both directions
  • Provide feedback in a way that is accepted

Techniques for Active Listening

  • Practice being in the moment
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Avoid the temptation to interject
  • Pay attention to the speaker’s body language

Book Reference: Read People Like a Book by Patrick King

Principle 2: Empathy

Definition: The ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes; to understand how their feelings, emotions and needs impact their perceptions and actions

Techniques for Developing and Communicating Empathy

  • Recall your own experiences
  • See Principle 1 – listen!
  • Acknowledge other viewpoints
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable, authentic and sincere

Principle 3: Understanding Communication Styles

  • We all communicate differently
  • Everyone has a unique style of communicating that is impacted by their experiences, personalities and environment
  • Communicating to everyone in the same way is a fast-track to confusion, misunderstanding and conflict

Principle 4: Body Language

Eye Contact

  • Your eyes can change the entire ton of a conversation or presentation, regardless of what you’re saying
  • Key: Maintain steady eye contact
    • Face to face: 5-second rule
    • Speaking: scanning technique
  • Eye contact one of the quickest ways to maintain engagement and create rapport

Body Positioning

  • Eliminate barriers
  • Get into the right posture
  • Minimize movements


  • Keep it waist-high
  • Do what is natural for you
  • Keep it spontaneous
  • Avoid threatening gestures

Principle 5: Speak Confidently

People judge your confidence within the first few seconds of hearing you speak.


Slow Down

  • Speaking fast can make you sound insecure and nervous
  • Causes a rise in your vocal pitch
  • Solution: speak with a relaxed, deliberate pitch and cadence. It demonstrates you are in control and gives your words more weight

Speak with Authority

  • Avoid tentative language
    • “I’m sorry but…”
    • “It’s my opinion that…”
  • Avoid uptalk (ending the sentence on an upward note like a question)

Avoid Using Filler Words

Learn to Use Pauses


  • Grabs the listener’s attention
  • You sound more confident and in control of your thoughts
  • Lets your message sink in
  • Can persuasive (use the pause and nod)

How to Use:

  • Pause at the end of a sentence where a period would be
  • Pause after a key point for emphasis
  • Pause when talking about a series of things or steps

Principle 6: Communicate with Clarity

Meet You Audience Where They Are – Understand Them

  • What do they want/need to know?
  • What will get in the way of you delivering your message?
  • How can you personalize your message?

Be Concise

Talking more does not equal good communication.


  • Understand why and when you do it
  • Always lead with your main point
  • Support with relevant details only and stay high-level whenever possible

Use Plain Language

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” -Albert Einstein

ELI5 – Explain It Like I’m 5

Be Specific About Outcomes and Timelines

We are going to increase revenues. → We are going to increase revenues 20% by June 30 by offing this new product and entering this new market.

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