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Noah Zandan

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The Era of Professional Communication Analytics is Here

What if you could provide nuanced, objective, personal feedback and improvement for every leader in your organization, from VPs to directors to high-potential managers?

When I talk to leaders across industries, they tell me one of the biggest challenges they face is giving their employees they skills they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced and digital corporate landscape. In the era of technology, automation, and artificial intelligence, the remaining core professional behavior is communication. In fact, research has shown that leaders spend 80 percent of their workdays communicating.

Imagine you’re in charge of talent development. Your CEO is an incredibly talented public speaker and many of your other leaders are perfectly comfortable with a mic. But other team members struggle at times, and there are a few who should definitely not be representing the company in any public setting.

As a savvy leader, you understand the impact a poorly crafted presentation or botched message can have your company’s success. You know that businesses as small as 100 employees spend, on average, 17 hours a week and over $500,000 a year clarifying previous communication. On the other hand, you understand the many positive impacts strong communication can have on employee morale, external perception, productivity, leadership success and, ultimately, your company’s bottom line.

But in a world where communication feedback is based on subjective opinion and expensive, personalized coaching, how can you give each and every employee the guidance they need to set you and your company up for success?

When you get right down to it, becoming a better communicator is easier said than done. It requires countless hours of practice, preparation, and even more importantly, quality coaching and guidance. Want to hire a great communications coach? The best cost upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 — per day. That’s more than many organizations can provide for anyone outside the Corner Office, and certainly more than most small companies or individuals can afford. Traditional workshops aren’t sustainable either, as without a prior understanding of each participants’ communication strengths and weaknesses, coaches can only offer generic guidance and drills. These “one size fits all” lessons just don’t stick.

As a result, even though 89 percent of companies consider leadership development to be important and 57 percent consider it an urgent priority, 70 percent of Millennials say they are receiving no leadership development training at all.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We are living in the era of personal communication analytics, where objective, measurable improvement is accessible to each and every one of us. 

Today, through communications science and machine learning, we can analyze samples of each employee’s communication — text, audio, or video — and return the comprehensive, objective feedback and personalized improvement recommendations and customized workshop plans you’d get not from just one expert communication coach, but from a panel of the best communications coaches. All for a fraction of the cost of one coaching session.

How can we measure communication?

Three decades ago, researchers like James Pennebaker at the University of Texas and Sandy Pentland at MIT started measuring people’s behavior — from the words they use, to the changes in their health, to the things they spend money on. Their revolutionary experiments in collecting and analyzing such personal data have created waves of innovation in personal tracking, from devices like Fitbits and personal blood sugar monitors to baby socks that measure temperature.

But for me, the most dramatic impact of these innovations in behavioral tracking has been in the field of communication analytics – or the capacity precisely capture patterns of text and speech. As simple as it may sound, developments in this area have transformed the way we work.

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Natural Language Processing is all around us — it powers Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, and enables us to get immediate, automated assistance from our favorite B2B and B2C companies via chatbots on their websites. And it can even help us measure and identify the qualities we’re looking for in our leaders.

That’s where I come in.

Coming from a Wall Street quant background, and fascinated with the explosions in both self-tracking and natural language processing, I decided it was time to put all these advances to work in the corporate world. So my co-founder — a Ph.D. data scientist — and I began work in my dorm room at Kellogg. Our goal was to help organizations and their leaders improve their productivity and reputations through data-driven communication support.

Today, Quantified Communications’ data-driven platform has helped dozens of leaders more than double the strength of their communication.

And we’ve benefitted from these innovations, ourselves, as I've used the QC platform to evaluate and improve my own communication skills. An analysis of a 2014 SXSW talk found that while the content of my talk came across as very confident, my voice was actually making me sound uncertain. Specifically, when I was under pressure, I adopted a breathy quality that made my vocal delivery 4.8 times less effective than the average TED speaker. Armed with this data, I was able to pinpoint exactly what I needed to work on to improve my QC Score (a combination of content, delivery, and audience perception) by 43 pecent — and make sure my talk would resonate with my audience.

Noah Zandan Improvement.pngImagine if everyone in your organization had the opportunity to get such nuanced, objective, and personalized feedback before every key communication event.

It is notoriously hard to predict where new technology might take us. But, powered by personal analytics, the world of human communication is on the verge of a paradigm shift.


The ripples of the personal analytics revolution may be hard to predict, but one thing is certain: revolutions don't move backwards, and analytics are already spreading faster than we could have imagined. And that’s why we want to be there, right at the edge.

Think about the moment you realized it had been years since you’d last seen a home phone tethered to the wall, or when you looked around you at a coffee shop and realized every single person was working on a laptop — no longer tethered to a mainframe, or even a desk. These are the kinds of revolutions I’m talking about.

We’ve seen them in communications, too, as pioneers in countless industries have begun using communication analytics to improve both their businesses and their communities. For example, researchers from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media have used communication and audio-visual processing technology to measure the extent of the gender gap in film, and MIT’s media lab has used speech recognition software to identify hints of depression in people’s communication patterns.

We've reached a point where every organization can understand and improve the way each key player communicates, without busting their budgets.

It's at times like this that profound transformation is bound to happen — moments when a transformative, powerful technology that was once limited to a select few is finally within everyone’s reach.

Think about it. Your leaders and managers are spending at least 80 percent of their workdays communicating. Why wouldn’t you embrace this kind of opportunity to help them get better at the one thing they do more than anything else?

So if you're curious, get up close and personal with your organization’s communication skills today. You may just find your next executives, enhance your company’s reputation among key stakeholders, dramatically lift your productivity, and even increase your bottom line.



To find out how QC can use our communication analytics platform to help your leadership deliver best-in-class messaging, 
email us at info@quantifiedcommunications.com.
 

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