A new year means the opportunity to brush up on an important skill that spans all aspects of your life: communication. Everyone communicates, but the stakes can be high for leaders trying to keep employees and other stakeholders informed. Here are eight steps you can take as a leader as you strive to communicate effectively.

1. Listen, Really Listen

Even a leader who meets with employees regularly may not truly hear what they are saying. Try not to check your email or phone while meeting with employees and give them your full attention. Fully understanding your employees’ concerns and reacting with empathy helps you take action where possible and, at the very least, shows your employees you care.

2. Prepare

When giving a presentation, be ready to share an organized, cohesive message that will resonate with your employees. If your thoughts and ideas are muddled and hard to follow, employees will lose interest and your message won’t be clear.

3. Delegate and Learn from Others

Say you have an idea that would be best presented in a slideshow format, but your slide design skills are lacking. Instead of nixing the idea altogether, or creating a subpar slideshow on our own, ask one of your more design-savvy employees to help. That way you’re leveraging the strengths and talents of one of your employees, learning a skill yourself and developing an effective communication tool in the process.

4. Involve the Right People

Workplaces can be breeding grounds for gossip, misinformation and miscommunication. By ensuring that key stakeholders are involved and on the same page from the start, you can reduce mixed messaging and help ensure information is disseminated correctly.

5. Tell a Story

Employees want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. As a leader, you can add context to their work and the future of your organization through a compelling narrative that not only effectively communicates but also inspires and encourages your employees.

6. Utilize Different Communication Channels

Communication has never been solely verbal and there are now more ways than ever to spread a message. From tweets and LinkedIn posts to weekly newsletters and annual town hall meetings, business communication runs the gamut from short and sweet to more formal. Based on the nature of the communication, you can choose one appropriate channel or you can use a variety of platforms being careful to ensure that tone and messaging are consistent.

7. Communicate Appropriately

Keep your communications inclusive, informative and encouraging. When in doubt, consult your HR or Legal team before spreading a potentially inappropriate message.

8. Connect with Employees

Be careful not to talk at your employees. Communication is a two-way street and should be used as a tool to connect an organization.

Next time you present to your organization, have a one-on-one meeting with an employee, write an email or even a tweet, consider these tips and how any of these suggestions may help you communicate more effectively.