No matter what industry you work in, clear, effective communication is a skill that when mastered can have a profound effect on your career. This is especially true as a chamber pro because communication is at the core of building relationships and relationships are the lifeblood of the chamber and its work.

As chamber professionals, we juggle a multitude of roles: member advocate, board liaison, community partner, and often, the face and voice of business. Each role demands a nuanced approach to communication.

Most of us have been communicating since the first years of our lives and yet there’s a lot to learn in becoming an effective communicator. Let's break down the key communication styles and how they apply to our unique challenges.

What's the Big Deal About Communication Styles?

It’s important to understand communication styles because not only do you have one that you default to, but those you’re communicating with have their own preferences as well.

As you’re reviewing this list think not only about which one you are but also the people with whom you communicate. Knowing if they’re an analytic communicator versus an intuitive communicator, can help you tailor your approach to them to make your message.

Think about the concept of Love Languages (presented in the book of the same name) and how some of us enjoy gifts while others feel loved with compliments or acts of service. If you are a gift giver, chances are—without being instructed to do so otherwise—you will treat your love the way you would want to be treated with gifts. But if that’s not what your loved one responds to, it doesn’t matter how many gifts you give or how expensive they are. On the other hand, if they love compliments, giving them a meaningful sentiment to hold onto can mean more than any gift, no matter how perfect.

The same is true of communication styles. If someone is a no-nonsense analytical communicator, they don’t care how moving your story is. They want to see the facts and the projected outcomes. Knowing someone’s communication type can help you be more persuasive and effective in communicating with them.

Common Communication Styles

Here are a few of the most common communication styles. Which are you most closely aligned with and where do the members of your board fit?

The Analytical Communicator: Data-Driven Decisions

Captains of industry, INTJs, and other just-the-facts-ma’am type people fall under this category. This type of communication is also referred to as “direct communication.” They can do without the fluffy niceties and probably hate when you send an email with the two measly words of “Thank you.”

Style: Prefers facts, figures, and logic. Detailed, thorough, and precise in their approach. They value efficiency and clarity in their interactions.

Where it shines: Board meetings, budget presentations, economic impact reports.

Example of effective communication with this type: Responding to a board question about membership decline, you present a data-backed analysis of trends, demographics, and potential solutions, instead of quoting the Bruce Springsteen song “My Hometown.”

When responding to board questions, direct communication can help provide concise and actionable answers, respecting the time constraints often present in board meetings.

Communicating with members using a direct style can be effective when conveying important information or deadlines, ensuring clarity and reducing misunderstandings.

Potential pitfall: These individuals can get bogged down in details, losing sight of the big picture.

Solution: Summarize key points upfront, use visuals to highlight data, and relate findings to the broader strategic goals.


The Personal Communicator: Building Relationships

Everyone’s friend, always focused on feelings and the ripple effect on decision making based on relationships. Also referred to as a collaborative communicator.

Style: Empathetic, approachable, and focuses on building rapport and seeking input from others. Skilled at active listening and understanding emotional cues.

Where it shines: Member interactions, conflict resolution, community events.

Example: A member expresses frustration over a city ordinance. You actively listen to their concerns, validate their feelings, and collaborate on a plan of action.

In board meetings, a collaborative approach can involve seeking input from different board members, fostering a sense of inclusivity and collective decision-making, ensuring every voice is heard. Engaging with board members in a supportive manner involves active listening and understanding their perspectives, fostering trust and cooperation.

When advocating for business interests, a collaborative style can involve partnering with other organizations or stakeholders to amplify your message and achieve common goals.

Members can benefit from a supportive style by addressing their concerns empathetically and showing genuine care for their needs.

Potential pitfall: Can be perceived as overly emotional or less authoritative. Some may think this approach (using buy-in) takes too long.

Solution: Balance empathy with professionalism, set clear boundaries, and leverage active listening to uncover underlying issues.

The Intuitive Communicator: The Big-Picture Visionary

These are the big thinkers, the idea generators. They are not implementors.

Style: Creative, visionary, and adept at communicating overarching goals and inspiring action.

Where it Shines: Advocacy efforts, fundraising campaigns, public speaking engagements, rallying people for a cause, program, or an event.

Example: You address a group of elected officials, painting a vivid picture of the economic impact of a proposed policy change and rallying them to support your cause.

Potential Pitfall: Can lack specifics or appear impractical. Often has difficulties with the details behind how it will happen.

Solution: Anchor your vision with concrete examples, data points, and a clear roadmap for implementation.​

The Functional Communicator: Process-Oriented Problem Solvers

This is the opposite of an intuitive communicator but (if they can stand each other) these two make an effective pair.

Style: Organized, detail-oriented, and focused on practical solutions and step-by-step processes.

Where it shines: Project management, event planning, operational tasks.

Example: You communicate a detailed action plan for a new member onboarding process, outlining timelines, responsibilities, and success metrics.
Potential Pitfall: Can come across as rigid or inflexible.

Solution: Encourage collaboration, solicit feedback, and be open to alternative approaches.

Tailoring Communication Styles to Your Role and Recipient

Just as you may change the language or tone you use based on your audience (you speak differently when talking to a middle school assembly about the chamber than you would top investors), you will also adjust to the role you’re playing and the audience you’re in front of.

Here are a few tips:​

Responding to Board Questions

  • Understand the preferred communication style of each board member to adapt your responses accordingly.
  • Balance directness with inclusivity, ensuring all perspectives are considered before decisions are made.
  • Remember, this is not The You Show. Listen to your board. They were selected for a reason and that wasn’t to come watch your monologue.

Communicating with Members

  • Segment your communication based on member preferences and needs (e.g., direct emails for urgent updates, collaborative discussions for strategic planning).
  • Use analytical insights when presenting data or making recommendations, demonstrating the value of Chamber membership.

Advocating for Business on Behalf of Members

  • Choose a communication style that resonates with policymakers, using compelling data (analytical), building relationships (collaborative), and addressing concerns empathetically (supportive).
  • Tailor your message to align with the priorities and values of your members, effectively representing their interests.

Communication Styles in Chamber Meetings

In chamber meetings, understanding the different communication styles at play and tailoring your approach accordingly impacts the effectiveness of your communication. Understanding communication styles can also help assure you have the right person in the ideal communication role.

Board Meetings

Analytical Communicators: Appreciate comprehensive reports with clear metrics, financial projections, and action plans. Use visuals like charts and graphs to present information concisely. Be prepared to answer detailed questions and provide evidence to support your claims.

Personal Communicators: Focus on building rapport and fostering a collaborative atmosphere. Encourage open dialogue, active listening, and sharing of diverse perspectives. Emphasize the impact of decisions on members, the community, and relationships.

Intuitive Communicators: Paint a compelling vision of the future, highlighting the potential impact of chamber initiatives. Use storytelling and emotional appeals to inspire action and engagement. Be prepared to discuss the broader implications and long-term benefits of proposed ideas.

Functional Communicators: Present well-structured agendas with clear objectives and timelines. Provide detailed plans for implementation, outlining specific steps, roles, and responsibilities. Be prepared to address logistical concerns and offer practical solutions to potential challenges.

Committee Meetings

Analytical Communicators: Focus on providing relevant data and analysis to guide committee discussions. Highlight key performance indicators, evaluate progress, and identify areas for improvement. Be prepared to answer questions about data sources and methodology.

Personal Communicators: Foster a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels heard and valued. Encourage open communication, active listening, and collaborative problem-solving. Celebrate individual contributions and acknowledge the importance of teamwork.

Intuitive Communicators: Encourage brainstorming and creative thinking to generate innovative solutions. Challenge assumptions, explore new possibilities, and inspire the committee to think outside the box. Share success stories and examples of similar initiatives to motivate the group.

Functional Communicators: Keep the committee focused on the task at hand by providing clear instructions, setting deadlines, and tracking progress. Offer practical guidance, checklists, and templates to streamline processes and ensure efficient execution of tasks.

General Tips for Effective Communication in Chamber Meetings

  • Know your audience.
  • Be flexible in your communication style, adapting to context and meeting goals.
  • Use a variety of communication tools including visuals
  • Encourage feedback by creating a safe space for constructive feedback
  • Practice active listening with verbal and nonverbal cues
  • Summarize your understanding at the end and recap takeaways

Common Communication Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Even when you're doing all the right things, you're bound to run into some hiccups. No one thinks they are a bad communicator (at least not before being told so by a loved one). Communication collapses happen for several reasons including:

  • Misaligned expectations. Clarify goals, roles, and responsibilities upfront.
  • Information overload. Prioritize key messages, use clear and concise language.
  • Poor listening. Practice active listening, ask clarifying questions, summarize understanding.
  • Lack of feedback. Encourage open communication, create a safe space for dialogue.

Sometimes it’s not the message but the method that gets in the way.

A Word About Choosing the Right Channels

If you are fishing, and you’ve lost your bait, there are no lures, how effective do you think you’ll be at landing that fish? Do you think the fish will land on your bait because you sent them an email or a text?

Of course not.

Yet, some membership and event salespeople think an email is enough. Effective, persuasive communication requires stacking mediums. It’s not one touch, but several. It’s not one medium, but several.

When it comes to communication tools, we have many of them including email, phone calls, video conferencing, instant messaging, social media, and texts (not even touching video messaging and the like).

To be an effective communicator, you want to select the appropriate channel for different situations and audiences. More often than not, it may require multiple forms of communication.

However, when we’re talking about communication that is non-sales related (meaning you’re not trying to convince someone to buy from you or sponsor something), communicating for knowledge’s sake (needing to tell someone something), you have two options—using a blanket way to communicate (as in an email to your board every Monday) or making note of the type of communication they prefer to receive.

If possible, adhering to personal preferences is best. For instance, as a writer, phone calls are disruptive for me. There are times when they are needed but if it’s a weekly communication or you want to check in, I’d prefer an email. Text is good too but because it is more disruptive, I assume what you’re texting is something that is causing you to jump to the head of the line, it’s very important.

Some people, prefer a phone call. They like that interaction (or maybe distraction). Knowing what your board or staff prefers can help place them in a state of mind to be able to receive and process your information fully.

Understand the technology you have access to and adopt the ideal digital solution for the type of communication you’re trying to convey. Different digital platforms serve distinct purposes. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are ideal for sharing updates and interacting with stakeholders. Messaging apps such as Slack or WhatsApp facilitate quick internal communications and informal discussions with stakeholders who prefer these channels.

Finally, understand the team’s digital etiquette expectations. For instance, if you have a group text with over ten people, what is their tolerance for people adding comments that result in endless pings and no value? Should your group text responses be limited to questions and problems, not “thank yous” and “thumbs up” emojis?

What about email threads? I used to work with a group of developers who hated when someone responded to an email they sent about a completed project with “thank you.” There was no value in that message (although it was polite) and—for them—it was just one more email to delete (or clog up the server).

Knowing your audience and their communication preferences can smooth out any misunderstandings or annoyances before they happen.

You also may want to avoid all caps, excessive punctuation, or emoticons in professional communications. Adapt your approach to accommodate the preferences of different stakeholders, balancing personalized communication with flexibility.

As chamber professionals, communication style is one of our most powerful tools in building relationships. By understanding our strengths, recognizing potential pitfalls, and adapting our approach to the situation (or person) at hand, we can forge stronger relationships, achieve our goals, and drive meaningful change for our members and our communities.

Remember, effective communication is not just about what you say but also how you say it and where you say it. Knowing your audience and their preferences will make you a more effective communicator; something everyone will appreciate.

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