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Pilot-Speak Meets Money-Speak:
Three tips for effective communication.

Robert McCloskey once said 'I know that you believe you understand what you think I said- but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.'

In cockpit communications- we need to speak clearly and concisely so that any pilot or controller can understand what is said. 'Taxi to Runway 18' is not clearance to taxi onto runway 18. In the business world- we also need to communicate clearly. Major decisions can go awry because of misunderstandings.

Lawyers sometimes get called in to make sure that a contract is completely understandable (to other lawyers anyhow). Even at home- 'Does this dress look good on me?' can lead to serious miscommunication (the correct answer is that YOU make the dress look awesome- by the way).

Abbreviations and jargon can shorten sentences but can also cause confusion. Mention MSG-3 to the director of maintenance and you get conversation about maintenance philosophies. Mention that to an executive- and they may think it is an ingredient in Chinese take-out.

NPV gets a blank stare from the pilot and a smile from the CFO. As long as we stay within our discipline- communication can be tough enough- but when the pilot- the executive- the lawyer and the CFO sit down- things can easily be misunderstood or worse. Guess who are needed for a successful aircraft acquisition? Here are three tips to get everyone onto the same page.

Eliminate the jargon- or explain it. BFL is not a football league in Belgium. While saying BFL means 'runway needed for takeoff' isn't 100% technically correct- it does get the point across. Jargon only serves to exclude people who aren't in the club and can easily make someone feel resentment over being left out. Don't dumb it down- just be clear. Also- be wary of excessive rhetoric and clichés.

The whole point is to get your message across. Simplicity works.

With regards to an aircraft selection or recommendation- make sure you keep things pointed in the right direction: getting an aircraft. If the aircraft is for business use- make sure that any discussion or report is able to connect the aircraft with the corporate mission.

Why do we need this non-stop range; why do we need this cabin size; why this many seats? The answer to these aircraft questions needs to end up at why you need the aircraft in the first place.

Lincoln's Gettysburg address was 268 words. I know the lawyer don't/won't/can't do this- but in general- brevity helps with communications. When you communicate with individuals with different skill sets- keeping it straightforward keeps everyone on the same page.

Did you ever read a seven page email? I know I never did and never will. A seven page report might be too short. A two page summary is too long - so brevity is using just enough words to convey the point. We routinely work with the aviation department and the executive team at the same time. When preparing our reports- I know to make sure that the pilot understands the technical information regarding why we are recommending the aircraft that we chose. If the pilot sees that my aircraft analysis is technically correct- it provides him with confidence that I understand their mission.

When the executive team reads the same report- they need to also understand why my recommendations make business sense. They need to feel confident when they go before the board for approval that they have the facts to support the aircraft. Similarly- my cost and financial analysis needs to pass the scrutiny of the CFO.

If you understand what I just said- whether you are a pilot- CEO or CFO- I have done my job.

David Wyndham is an owner of Conklin & de Decker. The mission of Conklin & de Decker is to furnish the general aviation industry with objective and impartial information in the form of professionally developed and supported products and services- enabling its clients to make more informed decisions when dealing with the purchase and operation of aircraft. With over 1-800 clients in 90 countries around the world- Conklin & de Decker combines aviation experience with proven business practices.

More information from www.conklindd.com; Tel: +1 508 255 5975

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