Archives For communications

The title of this blog post also happens to coincide with the title of my new Kindle eBook. The book is a collection of twenty-two articles I have written over the past several years on the subject of communications. I came across many exceptional communicators during my time in the U.S. Marine Corps, and afterward in positions of responsibility with companies like Coca-Cola Enterprises, Genuine Parts, and GE. I learned much about communications skills by observing men and women of exceptional ability. I also observed that many people struggle as communicators. It is to this group that this book is intended.

There may be areas that take you outside your comfort zone, such as public speaking, presentations, or contentious areas that might involve some level of conflict. Don’t be discouraged. Most of us have at least some fear of standing in front of a group and speaking; or writing and then verbally presenting (and perhaps defending) a plan or paper; or delivering a less-than-stellar but nonetheless honest performance review to a potentially cantankerous employee. Just remember that repeated practice will make you better and more comfortable. Stand up in front of the group with confidence and enthusiasm. Deliver your well-written plan with your strong verbal skills, perhaps with a bit of humor spliced into just the right places. Be honest and sincere with that cantankerous employee, and always respectful. Think of it as becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Progress will follow.

Since I am a writer and speaker, I come at the subject of communications from both a written and verbal perspective. I do not consider one as superior to the other; rather, to do both effectively and skillfully should always be the goal. Moreover, once you are able to do both effectively, you will find that being adept at writing can assist in the preparation of verbal presentations or messages.

So, this book is my offer of assistance to those who deem their communications skills in need of improvement. These suggestions and concepts have worked for me, and my reasoning is that if it worked for me, it could work for you.

Keep in mind that communications skills are transferrable. They go where you go. Whether you change jobs or careers, you keep those skills in your skills portfolio. Also, remember that those skills need polishing. Don’t let the rust grow. Keep practicing and improving. You will see the results, as will others.

How to Become a Successful Communicator is now available. Click on the link to visit the Amazon page.

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.