How to Develop Communication Skills that Drive Your Business: Tips from Ryan Foland

We get asked a lot about how to improve communication skills for social impact. Last year, we got to meet the incomparable Ryan Foland, Master Communicator who taught us his simple 3-1-3 method. If you want to grow your impact + your business, here is: How to Develop Communication Skills that Drive Your Business. (Full article originally appeared in Change Creator Magazine). 

Have you ever experienced standing in front of people, their eager faces staring at you, waiting for you to start saying something? You opened your mouth, but nothing came out. You stood there sweating profusely, searching for the right words to say, but your mind was completely blank. What happened to the calm, confident person you saw in the mirror this morning? Apparently, he was nowhere to be found. All that’s left was this unrecognizable person rooted to the ground, frozen with fear.

That, folks, is a case of stage fright.

Meet Master Communicator, Ryan Foland

Most likely, you experienced this at one point in your life and you probably vowed to yourself that never again will you be humiliated in front of everyone. While it’s easy to make a conclusion that public speaking is not for everyone, it does come naturally for some people. Such is the case for master communicator, Ryan Foland.

Not only is he one of the most sought-after host for TedX, he’s also a regular presenter in huge startup events all over the world. You might think he’s one of the guys who has it all– smart, confident, and gifted. Truth was, growing up, Ryan wasn’t necessarily the teacher’s pet. In fact, he was this kid at school who was bullied for being smart. He had it hard until he learned to protect himself by learning martial arts. Little did he know that his experience with bullying would help forge the path to where he was now.

Of course, he didn’t know it then. Life had to happen before he figured out that being bullied and being taken advantage of in business were the same thing. He realized that both stemmed out because of a failure in communication, which could eventually lead to a misunderstanding.

How do you get your message across?

His positive and never-say-die attitude got him the spotlight and for the past 2-3 years his focus was using communication effectively to help people develop their own personal brand. He developed his own process to help individuals and organizations express themselves clearly and get their message across in the fewest words possible.

Curious to know more about Ryan’s method? Read on.

Self-Awareness is Key

For some, communicating effectively is a struggle. This is made obvious by the myriad of online courses, workshops, and books about different strategies and techniques on how to become an effective communicator. Sure, it’s easy to pick-up a book or watch a YouTube video on conquering your fear on let’s say, public speaking. But it’s the moment you realize that you are always communicating verbally or non-verbally that you can begin to really communicate.

According to Ryan, the first foundational step of communication is self-awareness. This means that you are consciously aware that your body language and even the clothes you wear speak so much about you. Once you have identified that you are constantly communicating, you can move on to the next fundamental step.

Less Is More

In this day and age where everyone is competing to grab your attention, there is a need to bring your message across in a concise and clear manner. If not, you risk not being heard and seen by your target market.

For start-ups vying for capital, how do you make sure your pitch will resonate with the judges and willing investors?

For bloggers and online personalities finding an audience, how do you come up with an engaging personal brand that will attract the right people?

Ryan mentioned that in his years of working with startups, he noticed that there’s an inability to communicate an idea in the shortest amount of words possible. There’s a tendency to go on and on about a certain topic and never getting to the point. One reason is you’re not clear on what your message is. Another is the fear of awkward silences and long, pregnant, pauses. The tendency is to talk more even if you no longer make sense.

We all love to talk, don’t we? But talking less can generate more conversation and questions if you have engaged your audience enough that they want to know more.

So, how do you communicate your idea to others in the most concise and impactful way?

Enter the 3-1-3 Method

The 3-1-3 Method is Ryan’s way of solving a problem most people have– how to express ideas clearly in the shortest amount of time. He developed this system where a description using a maximum of three sentences is reduced to one sentence and eventually to only three words.

3 Sentences

1 Sentence

3 Words

Short, sweet and simple, but without sacrificing the essence of the message.

This is for anyone who wants to articulate an idea and gaining confidence in the process. What’s great about this system is it’s applicable to anyone who has a hard time condensing paragraphs to sentences and sentences to words. It teaches you that the most important thing people really care about is how you can solve their problems. The challenge, however, is stating the problem, solution and the target market in one sentence. After figuring out everything in one sentence, you can proceed to reduce it to three words. The beauty of the method is once you get the hang of it, it gets easier.

Make Room for Questions

Using the 3-1-3 Method also allows the audience to ask questions thereby engaging them with your idea. You don’t have to offer all the details in a silver platter. Give the audience room to process and get intrigued by your message. Your goal is to plant a seed in their minds and trigger curiosity.

You will know if they’re interested with the number of questions they have for you. Through that, you can elaborate about your idea and give them the specifics.

With so much distraction and external stimuli around us, it’s no surprise that there’s a need for a shorter, more effective way to get your idea across.

In fact, in a study done by Microsoft, Inc. in 2015, our attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. The study says our concentration only lasts eight seconds. No wonder the pressure is on to come up with the most witty, attention-grabbing pitch you can think of.

Ryan Foland found a quick and painless way to help you present your idea. His years of experience working with startups, entrepreneurs and the academe allowed him to understand the importance of being a good communicator. Mastery comes with practice and his methods and strategies in communication can help get you where you want to be.

Know more about Ryan’s work at

You can also follow him in Twitter @ryanfoland.

Key Takeaways on Effective Communication from Master Communicator Ryan Foland

1. Be aware that you are already starting to communicate before you even speak. Your clothes and body language already speak much about you.

2. The less you say, the more profound you are. Deliver the message in a short, concise way.

3. Leave room for questions. Allow your audience to get intrigued by your idea and welcome their questions.

4. Listening is a speaking skill. To be a good speaker, you also need to be an effective listener. Engage people to talk by also asking them the right questions.

5. When validating an idea, ask what problem you are trying to solve. People only care about how you’re going to solve their problems. Focus on that when selling your idea.

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