Talk the Talk: How to be a Better Communicator
They say, “Communication is key.” Key to what? Well as reality would have it, communication can be the key to success or it can be the key to a mess. So the real question is what separates these two outcomes? As in most cases, the winning factor is effectiveness.
If you want to be a Champion Effective Communicator, just follow these guidelines:
- Prepare beforehand: Gather your info and practice ahead of time. Get into a good mindset. Go! If you don’t know where to start, start with THE WHY.
- Choose an opportune time and place: Your setting and timing are vital assets to consider when you need to make your voice heard. Get away from distractions and don’t be a distraction, meaning your choice of an opportune time to speak shouldn’t cut off someone else’s turn to speak either.
- Hold eye contact and smile: Positivity is contagious and steady eye contact demonstrates confidence, openness, and attentiveness.
- Practice awareness of body language: This involves both your body language and your audience’s. Studies show that even your posture can boost your confidence and credibility with others. Knowing your audience’s body language will help gauge their interest and response.
- Be a good listener and let other speak: Listening goes hand in hand with communicating. If you don’t listen to others, how can you expect others to listen to you? Encourage others to share their voice too.
- Get to the point: While people seem to be able to read and even enjoy very long novels or texts (Lord of the Rings, anyone?), attention spans seem to shrink tenfold when the words move from the page to coming out of someone’s mouth (three-hour college lectures, anyone?). When speaking to an audience, be as succinct as possible. Put the important things in focus.
- Keep a steady pace and avoid “um”: Although you want to get straight to the point, you don’t want to be talking so fast that you sound like you’re speaking another language. Pace yourself. Don’t speak too slow, don’t speak too fast. As Goldilocks might say, “Speak just right.”
- If you disagree, be respectful: No one can hear anything over a shouting match. Don’t accuse. Don’t be mean. And don’t be passive-aggressive. Find common ground, even amidst a field of differences.
- Ask questions: Asking questions will help make sure you’re on the same page as whoever you’re talking with. Ask questions that will help clarify things so you’ll be able to understand and show that you’re paying attention.
- End with a valuable takeaway: As in film or literature, the theme of a story is what an audience walks away with and remembers. When having a conversation, choose one central idea to distinctly convey that is not only valuable but also motivating for a call to action or challenge.
So whether you’re talking with a friend, leading an office meeting, or speaking at a huge seminar—I challenge you to try out each of these steps. In no time, you’ll be the one giving everyone else communication advice!
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