How We Benchmark and Assess Communication Skills

pasted image 0 2

If you’re like me, I’d imagine you’ve wondered how you or your team compares to the top performers in your role. In almost every facet of your business, improvement goals are set based on objective benchmarks — where are we now, where do we need to be, and what would best-in-class performance look like?

We also know that communication skills drive success. Research highlights communication over and over again as among the most needed, most critical, and most difficult-to-find professional skills.

So we’ve created a standardized way for you to assess, benchmark, and improve your communication skills relative to top-performers.

At this point, many of you might be thinking measuring something as subjective as communication effectiveness seems impossible. After all, the definition of success can be quite objective depending on who’s in the audience and what they need to hear from you.

While communication has traditionally been considered too “soft” of a skill to prioritize — much less measure — the reality is that “soft skills” like this are no longer “nice to haves.” Instead, they’re critical leadership characteristics that have a profound impact on a business’s reputation and its bottom line. We know that organizations want to prioritize communication skill development because it drives performance. And today they can do so using objective data and processes to measure, improve, and track communication performance in their people to achieve better business outcomes across the board.

That’s Quantified’s bread and butter.

Since 2012, we’ve been applying the latest behavioral science and data analytics to identify what makes communication effective. Our communication skills development platform employs behavioral science, machine learning intelligence, and adaptive learning software in the flow of work to scale and serve millions.

Many customers are curious to understand the magic behind our scoring system, so we thought we could give you a glimpse behind the curtain to see how it works.

Cracking the Code of Effective Communication

When we set out to add science to the art of communication, we started by working to understand what behaviors — conscious and subconscious — make communication great. Over eight years, our team of evaluation research PhD’s and data scientists has built an incredible library of communication samples, from CEOs to everyday presenters, across a representative (and weighted) mix of demographics (age, gender, socioeconomic status, organizational level, and accents). We wanted to know how diverse audiences respond to a wide variety of pieces of communication. So, we ran all of these samples by audience panels, based on an international English-speaking census distribution, to identify how audiences respond to different communication behaviors.

We ask the panels to share their perspective on these speakers (Is the speaker confident? Likeable? Trustworthy? Memorable? Engaging?). We then analyze the same content library using behavioral science algorithms (natural language processing, vocal analysis, and facial analysis) to identify the minute, subconscious patterns in communication. With the two data sets combined — the human- and the machine-generated ones — we identify which communication patterns drive a speaker’s reputation, then we build the algorithms that can automate communication skills measurement for millions of users.

And those are what give us the QC Score.

QC Score 82019

The QC Score provides a standardized, objective way to establish a benchmark of a person’s communication skills against peers, top-performers, industry leaders, iconic communicators, and more. Benchmarking is possible because we have built the world’s largest communication skills database. It contains more than a billion data points and behavioral observations from over 200,000 individual communicators, including everyone from Fortune 100 executives, presidents, and TED speakers to a diverse set of everyday professionals and university students.

But it’s important to note that, once the algorithms are built, our work isn’t done. We test all of our algorithms prior to use to validate both that they do what they are intended to do and that their results generate unbiased outputs. And we monitor them to the fullest extent possible to ensure that real-world behavior matches the expected behavior, adjusting as necessary when we find a gap.

Tracking Progress Toward Communication Goals

But the power of our database doesn’t end there. Now that we’ve amassed more than 200,000 communication samples, we can use those to compare users to groups of communicators that will be particularly relevant because they have similar career goals, presentation goals, performance measures, and target audiences. We know there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and these role-based benchmarks enable our platform to measure speaking skills in a way that’s personalized for each learner’s goals. The key is that we can help you adjust your goals by (a) context and (b) target audience.

The Quantified communication skills development platform allows you to select benchmarks of people who’ve achieved the goals you’re aiming for or leaders in your industry or speakers you admire. If you’re giving a talk at a conference, you can compare your scores to the scores from more than 200 TED Talks. If you want to brush up your Q&A skills, you can benchmark yourself against more than a thousand interviews.

pasted image 0-2

Data in a vacuum isn’t very useful, but when we can put an aspiring leader’s QC Score into context, then that data becomes supercharged.

Building Role-Based Benchmarks for Communication Skills

We’re no strangers to data analysis here at Quantified, and we know one or two speeches do not make a representative sample. That’s why our benchmarks are comprehensive, role-based, and statistically significant.

Here are a few examples:

For Sales Reps: Inside Sales Presentations

We know the secret to ensuring every sales rep meets quota every time is strong communication. But we also know sales representatives require a unique set of communication skills to close deals. So we built our sales presentation benchmark to enable reps to compare themselves to fellow reps who are having similar conversations, allowing them to identify and practice the skills that have proven successful in their particular situation.

For Technical Professionals: Technical Professional Benchmark

Our technical professionals benchmark helps engineering teams and high performers in other technical roles develop the skills to communicate technical information to non-technical audiences, which is critical as individual contributors move into management roles and/or interface with clients or other, nontechnical teams within the organization.

For Financial Professionals: S&P 500 Earnings Call Benchmark

When we built our earnings call communication benchmark to support CFOs, we scraped every S&P earnings call over the course of five years. We broke them down to analyze each speaker’s prepared remarks versus responses to investor questions. We used that data to build individual benchmarks for CEOs and CFOs looking to understand how their overall performance — or just their performance in one segment or the other — stacks up to business leaders’ performance in similar situations.

For Leaders: Fortune 100 CEO Benchmark

We built our Fortune 100 CEO communication benchmark using both interview and presentation samples from each CEO in the Fortune 100, careful to look for events that took place within the last five years. So when leaders or aspiring leaders compare themselves to our Fortune 100 CEO benchmark, they know they’re looking at a comprehensive average that indicates how CEOs are communicating currently — not a decade ago.

The World’s Largest Communication Skills Assessment Database

The goal is to leverage this great, growing resource we have — the world’s largest communication database — to ensure that the data we provide our users truly empowers them to understand their communication skills, fine tune their goals, and make a plan to meet those goals. Learn more in our white paper, How Science Is Shaping the Future of Communication.

Quantified Communications is adding science to the art of communication and helping businesses build their reputations and control their bottom lines by developing their leaders and high performers into world-class communicators. To learn how we can support your organization, request a demo.