Archives For communication skills

JFKWhile a picture may be worth a thousand words, those words will no doubt come in handy if the picture is distorted or poorly understood. After all, the most effective way to communicate is through speech. Thus, speaking skills are a vitally important method of communication.

The four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all interconnected. Proficiency in each skill is necessary to become a well-rounded communicator, but the ability to speak skillfully provides the speaker with several distinct advantages. The capacity to put words together in a meaningful way to reflect thoughts, opinions, and feelings provides the speaker with these important advantages:

• Ability to inform, persuade, and direct. Business managers, educators, military leaders, lawyers, and politicians, among others, seek to develop their speaking skills to such a level that they are transformed into master communicators. Speaking clearly and confidently can gain the attention of an audience, providing the golden opportunity for the speaker to make the message known. Wise is the speaker who gains and then holds the attention of an audience, with well-chosen words in a well-delivered presentation, forming a message that is effective, informative, and understood.

• Ability to stand out from the rest. When one thinks of speaking skills, one tends to think of it as a common skill. Think again. The ability to stand before others and speak effectively is not an ordinary ability. Many people are deathly afraid of public speaking; others have little ability to form thoughts into sentences and then deliver those words in a believable way. The bad news is that at any given moment the world has precious few with the speaking talents of, say, Winston Churchill or John F. Kennedy. The good news is that a speaker whose skills are honed and developed with constant application and hard work can stand out.

• Ability to benefit derivatively. Well-developed verbal skills can increase one’s negotiation skills. Self-confidence is improved. A growing sense of comfort comes from speaking in front of larger and larger audiences. A reputation for excellence in speaking can accrue over time, thereby imparting a certain credibility to the speaker.

• Career enhancement. Employers have always valued the ability to speak well. It is, and always will be, an important skill, and well worth the effort in fully developing.

Speaking skills are important for career success, but certainly not limited to one’s professional aspirations. Speaking skills can enhance one’s personal life, thereby bringing about the well-rounded growth we should all seek.

For more on becoming a better communicator, both in verbal and written form, please see my Kindle eBook HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL, EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR. Below are several links to Amazon:

Amazon USA

Amazon India

Amazon UK

 

7054375-podio-de-roble-aislada-sobre-fondo-blanco-con-microfonoWebster’s defines communication as “an act or instance of transmitting.” Communication is about effective expression, and is very much a skill that can be acquired and improved. For these purposes, we will concentrate on verbal communications, and specifically the improvement of those particular communications skills.

Communications skills are necessary for success in virtually any endeavor. Those who possess high levels of skill in communicating with others have an advantage in the marketplace of information and ideas. Unlike many other skills, effective communicators can take their expertise anywhere. Like any other skill, it must be practiced diligently to maintain and improve.

While there are numerous methods for improving one’s communications skills, here are 10 suggestions for your consideration:

1. Always design your message to fit your audience. This focuses the use of your words and builds discipline and economy.

2. Always assume a lack of clarity. Whether providing verbal instructions, giving a performance review, or chairing a meeting, always ensure that your communication removes any confusion or ambiguity. Repeat as needed. Repeat as needed. Did I mention repeat as needed?

3. Give verbal presentations. Remember the book reports you used to give in class? The more you did, the better you got, right? Whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation on sales growth or a lecture on foreign affairs, get up in front of an audience and speak. Learn to deal with and overcome the nerves that precede; it’s rarely a fatal condition.

4. Become a better listener. Some of the best communicators are some of the greatest listeners. Conversely, some of the poorest communicators are often some of the worst listeners. Make a conscious effort to become a better listener. Listening is more than an interlude between your own sentences. Hear your audience. I assure you they will notice.

5. Get feedback from others. Ask friends or colleagues to critique your speaking for both content and delivery. Do you show impatience or frustration and thus limit your effectiveness? Are you too condescending or too inhibited? Ask for candid, constructive criticism. And don’t get offended; get better. Put the feedback to good use.

6. Find your voice. Pay attention to the tone of your spoken words. Modulate the pitch and volume of your voice, as appropriate. Choose your words wisely and enunciate them correctly. Develop a style of speaking that fits you.

7. Observe others. Find speakers who impress you with their abilities and study their differing styles. How well do they use humor? Do they show emotion? Are they inspiring? You don’t have to copy them, since you need a style that fits just you. You can certainly borrow, however. And you certainly should.

8. Make good eye contact. Look at your audience, whether an assemblage of hundreds or a single individual across a desk. You can become far more aware of how your message is being received by looking at, rather than looking past, your audience. This is common sense but so very often uncommon practice.

9. Be passionate. This is not to say you should be obnoxious or all-knowing. In fact, it is almost always better to be humble. It is to suggest, however, that your audience should feel your energy and enthusiasm, as appropriate.

10. Keep speaking. Keep developing your skills. Keep building your confidence. You will reap what you sow in this area of your life, as in others.

Good luck and good communicating!

For more on the development of communications skills, both verbal and written, see my Kindle eBook HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL, EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR. Find it on Amazon by clicking on the link.