Improving Communication for Technical Teams Provides Brand Value
The engineer who’s good at technology but bad at communication with humans is a stereotype we’re all familiar with, but it’s one that tech companies can no longer indulge. Technology has become such a vital part of every aspect of business — and our lives — that most technology professionals are required to have soft skills beyond their areas of expertise. We talked to Melanie Ensign of Discernible, a firm that specializes in communications for the privacy and security industry, about why it’s critical for tech professionals to also be skilled communicators.
Good communication is always a part of the job
Whether someone is head of engineering or director of security, good communication is now part of the job description. They need to be able to articulate technical concepts to non-technical personnel and explain how technology decisions impact the organization. Additionally, they must also be able to communicate and collaborate with customers, partners and other stakeholders.
When it comes to speaking on behalf of the company in public statements, media interviews and speaking engagements, it’s important that highly technical people are able to explain complex concepts in simple terms. They also need to understand how to tailor their communication style to different audiences. For example, explaining a data breach to your CTO is very different from explaining it to customers or the mainstream press.
“Their career experience thus far has been so focused on completing a task, closing tickets, shipping product–things that they’re very very good at,” Ensign says, “but they now are in a position … where we have to think more long term about the outcomes we’re striving for when we communicate with others.”
Always be able to articulate the “why”
Ensign coaches cybersecurity and privacy experts to be better communicators. She focuses on the three areas: responding to security and privacy incidents, engaging in external-facing speaking and media opportunities and improving communication within the organization. For all these types of communication, she advises that you first understand why you’re communicating.
“The ‘why’ question is really non-negotiable and unavoidable, because regardless of whether or not you ask it of yourself in advance, you will be asked by somebody else externally,” says Ensign.
This is true whether you’re responding to an incident publicly, talking to reporters or team members communicating with each other. Good communication is how you build and maintain trust in your company — and that trust ultimately protects your bottom line.
“When you look at how much trust really impacts brand value these days, the better your security and privacy teams are operating, the stronger external messaging that the rest of the company has when talking about their investments in data protection and user safety,” Ensign says.
Ensign notes that needing better communication isn’t a sign that the company is weak or unable to provide the value they promise their customers. She sees improving communication as a tool she can offer otherwise strong companies to ensure they’re meeting their potential.
“I want them to be able to own their destiny and to be able to see more positive change in their organizations,” she says.
If you feel your company could benefit from improved communication skills, check out Discernible here.
And when you’re ready to put those new skills to work for you with the media, contact us!