We’re a week away from the the UK General Election.
And if you’re registered, you’re deciding how to vote.
It’s worth asking what we need to do so much better.
In pitching for business, or promoting our charity or department’s work.
Compared to how our politicians have been doing these last few weeks.
Whether you’re pitching for business.
Or speaking at a conference.
Appearing in the media.
Or talking on the phone.
Writing a proposal.
Or posting online.
Here are five things essential for communicating clearly.
And building trust.
At Pink Elephant Communications, we’re clear about delivering on work we’ve won.
We need to do what we said we’d do.
When we said we’d do it.
For the price we said we’d do it.
Which is why we’ve been successful for 30 years.
So our proposal must be realistic and achievable.
In this election campaign, we’re hearing about billions of pounds.
Figures tossed around like confetti.
With little chance of promises being met.
Little surprise we’re highly skeptical.
Many will be fed up with MPs calling their political opponents names.
The rudeness and discourtesy.
It’s a huge turn-off.
In business, we need to offer stronger ideas than those we oppose.
And convince the audience with logic and passion.
Rather than playground slanging.
The winner in business is the person who withstands the greatest criticism.
With the greatest dignity.
They’re all at it.
Politicians of different persuasions.
Ignoring the questions they’ve been asked.
And answering different ones instead.
Your charity, business or initiative will only succeed if you can lay your critics’ fears to rest.
By answering their questions.
It’s OK to say: “I don’t know”.
It’s good to say: “It’s too early to say”.
And it’s easy to say yes or no.
But a direct question needs a direct answer.
What is a fact?
I once heard it described like this:
“A fact is determined by how far you’re willing to go to establish the truth.”
And here, our political leaders fall well short.
In the 7-way BBC debate, there were checkable mistakes.
Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price said Wales suffered the lowest wages at home.
That distinction falls to Northern Ireland.
The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon costed Trident at £200 billion.
More like £140 billion according to non-Greenpeace sources.
The Lib Dems’s Jo Swinson said offshore electricity was cheapest.
It’s more expensive than onshore.
All this according to the BBC’s Reality Check analysis.
Our business’s reputation will be determined by the accuracy of our calculations.
Claims and facts are two different things.
We need to quote our source of information if we’re to be believed.
And it needs to be accurate and verifiable if we’re to win the business.
And here’s where this election debate has left me cold.
I’m unable to form a clear view of where the UK is heading.
How those who need help will be supported.
Or how business will be encouraged to succeed.
To help pay the running costs of the NHS or the police, for example.
Business leaders need to paint a picture.
Inspire others to follow with a clear call to action.
At Pink Elephant Communications, we help charities, businesses and departments.
Sports organisations and entrepreneurs.
To achieve their goals with great communications skills.
We’ve been running courses.
In handling the media.
Business writing skills.
For three decades.
In 25 countries around the world.
Or for the last 16 years from our Glasgow studios.
I’ve cast my postal vote.
And here’s what I did.
I voted for a party with a leader I distrust.
On a mission of which I disapprove.
To stop another two parties making things worse.
Is that a failure of leadership?
A failure of communication skills?
Or worse still, a failure of democracy?
We can all do better.
Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can read his full profile here.
Images courtesy of BBC.
Photos by Pink Elephant Communications.
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