Bob Sheppard, the announcer for the New York Yankees, for more than almost six decades, applied three simple principles to his extraordinary delivery. Surely his beautiful baritone made him highly listenable and memorable; however, it was his discipline that made him a lifetime member of the team and a much loved part of the game for spectators.

To become a good communicator Bob Sheppard believed you had to abide by three simple, but important, rules—be clear, concise, and correct.

Be Clear: Future Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter, asked “Mr. Sheppard”( he also always called him “Mr.”), to record his announcement. “The ssshort ssstop, (pause) num – berr Twoo, (pause) Der ekk Je-teeer (pause) number twoo .” Why? Because “no one does it better. And I wanted to honor Mr. Sheppard.” That recording can be heard, to this day, every time the all-star comes to bat.

Often when coaching a client, I find myself saying: “Not sure what you’re saying.” Must admit, at times, I actually get what they are implying and play a little dumb in order to assist them with putting their thoughts and words into a more understandable form. Clear communication is jargon-free, uses proper grammar, has a logical order, and speaks to the listener. Whether the words are written or spoken, they are communicated in a way that is simple to understand regardless of the depth of concept.

When it comes to spoken language pronunciation, it is as important as the words themselves. Sheppard particularly enjoyed the complicated, non-English-based names many of the athletes owned. He was known for conferring with new players to get the exact pronunciation and then practiced saying the name numerous times until he got the vowels and consonants, syllables, and emphasis just right. A habit for all of us could acquire.

Be Concise: When Bob Sheppard was asked whether he craved the role of color announcer, he said he provided the fans with the essentials (“an announcer should never be colorful, cute, or comic”) and that was enough for him. He was their oral program.

Synthesizing an idea into a tight, pointed, form is a challenge for many of us. When writing, I find it easier to draft more than is needed and then edit down rather than to labor over each word and potentially lose an idea. For others, wordsmithing one element at a time is their key to success. Many of my clients find being concise particularly challenging when writing a self-evaluation or resume. They have so much they want to say with limited time and space. “How can you cut without losing important points?” they ask. I say: 1) Eliminate redundancies, 2) Select precise words, and 3) Give to the reader/listener what they need to know, not necessarily what you what them to hear.

Be Correct: Limited opportunities to say prescribed words and doing it in front of tens of thousands of seasoned critics demanded zero tolerance with regard to error. Bob Sheppard knew that and held himself to an extremely high standard.

We pride ourselves in being the generation of information seekers and gatherers. Facts, figures, opinions are everywhere and easily accessible. The problem is a good percentage of what we are told is wrong either factually, taken out of context, or an opinion disguised as truth. Just look at the number of the errors admitted to daily in the large newspapers or found on watchdog sites. Listen to the political pundits go at one another and you’ll see that comparative data and conclusive proof is often not present on either side. When I speak of accuracy in communication, I am referring to telling the truth, critically analyzing, and interpreting the facts and delivering information that is as trustworthy as you want to be perceived.

A very humble and happy man was Bob Sheppard. Married many years to his lovely Mary: lived in the same home for almost seventy years. He gave back to his community, his fans, and his students. And of course held what many think was the job of a lifetime. Not bad.

Wondering how you can acquire clear, concise, and correct business communication without being too colorful, cute, or comic? Often 1x1 coaching can be a great first step.

Why don’t you have a coach?

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.