Effective communication skills are fundamental to success in many aspects of life. Many jobs require strong communication skills. People with good communication skills also enjoy better interpersonal relationships with friends and family. Communication is therefore a key to interpersonal skill and learning how to improve you communication has many benefits. However, many people find it difficult to know where to start. Let’s focus on the most common ‘problem areas’ and suggest where you might focus your attention.
Many people appreciate that they have a problem with communication skills, but the struggle to know where to start to improve. There are a number of ways that you can identify particular problem areas.
» Ask yours friends, family and colleagues to advise you: Most people will be happy to help you with your journey towards self-improvement. They may7 even have been waiting for just this opportunity for some time.
»Use a self-assessment tool like our Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment: This will help you to identify the most important areas for improvement.
»You could instead simply work to improve the most common problem areas and see what happens.
Now, let’s talk about how you can improve your communication skills in order to become more effective.
®Learn the basics of nonverbal communication: To communicate clearly and confidently, adopt proper posture. Avoid slouching, folding your arms or making yourself appear smaller than you are. Instead, fill up the space you are given, maintain eye contact and move around the space.
®Avoid replying on visual aids: Be prepared to use words, compelling storytelling and nonverbal cues to communicate your point with the audience.
®Ask for honest feedback: As with most leadership skills, receiving honest feedback from peers, managers and members of your team is critical to becoming a better communicator. If you are regularly soliciting feedback, others will help you to discover areas for improvement.
®Engage the audience in discussion: Regardless of how compelling the speaker is all audiences have limited attention spans. To become a more effective communicator, make presentations and discussions interactive.
®Start and end with key points: Clear communication is of paramount importance. To ensure that the audience understands the key takeaways from a presentation, reiterate key points at the start and finish. This can also be accomplishes by providing attendees with a one-pager that includes key points the audience should consider throughout the presentation.
®Master the art of timing: While some of their might not be appropriate for the workplace, standup comedians are certainly effective communicators. Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to new topic or when to reiterate an idea.
®Get comfortable speaking extemporaneously: When lawyers present a case in front of the court, they typically speak extemporaneously. The lawyers write down a series of topics they intend to discuss, but they do not memorize what they word for word. This method of communicating allows the lawyers presenting a case to cover all of the necessary points, while giving them flexibility as to how to communicate base on audience reaction or questions.
®Get to know your audience: To communicate effectively, it is important to get to know your audience first. Each audience is different, and will have different preferences and cultural norms that should be considered when communicating. A good way to understand expectations is to ask members of the audience for examples of good communicators within organization.
Remember to communicate using nonverbal and verbal cues. Listen carefully to what others have to say, and over-communicate in novel ways to ensure the content of the conversation sticks with the audience.