“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” – Anthony Robbins
Communication is one of the most vital skills of a person. Being talkative does not necessarily pertain to effectiveness in communicating your message. To be counted as an effective communicator, you have to be articulate in order to influence your audience.
Here are eight tips that are guaranteed to help you improve your communication skills.
1. Think before you speak.
People will understand you better if you have formed your words in your head with concrete meaning before putting them out. So it is important to think or plan first for ideas to say. If you have problems in organizing your thoughts, one good suggestion is to write or jot them down into an outline. Then take the most crucial parts of your notes. Make sure to elaborate on the points and highlight the main ideas.
2. Be a good listener.
You may be wondering why this has to be the second step in improving your communication skills. And that’s okay. Be reminded that communication is not all about talking and speaking but is largely also about listening to what others have to say. Communication should be a two-way traffic between two or more individuals. Part of this is avoiding distractions in order to make a good response.
3. Maintain good eye contact.
Focusing on the person with whom you’re speaking is very important as part of your communication skills. Shift your eyes to them to reach their hearts and catch their attention. Holding their gaze is one way to feel them as you speak.
4. Speak clearly.
It’s embarrassing when you cannot pronounce certain words well, especially if they are tongue twisters. They make you sound like mumbling. To correct this, you can practice enunciating them. The more you do, the easier it will get. The trick here is to try to speak lower than usual. There is no one and nothing running behind your back like a horse. So you don’t have to hurry. Else, you might lose their interest as they are trying hard to understand you.
5. Speak with gestures.
There is no rule that says you only have to use your voice box when communicating. Therefore, use your hands and body in making gestures to further illustrate your points. Also, without these movements, you may look like a robot in front of them—without gracefulness and emotions. Your approach will keep away from being monotone if you use gestures. Just make sure that gestures and your body language are appropriate according to the circumstance and background of your listener(s).
6. Don’t tell inside jokes.
Know a little more about the background of the person you’re talking to – their culture, language and interests. Know what tickles their funny bone and know the things you have to be careful about. Watch your words. Some sensitive ones will be subjected to different interpretations for different people.
7. Prepare visual aids.
If you are to speak with children, you may need to have flash cards to tell stories more effectively. If you’re speaking publicly, presenting to an audience and are talking about a serious issue that requires statistical data, it would be better if you can present with PowerPoint slides. These data on your background will help you remembering the facts to disclose and also set the pacing for your presentation.
8. Interact with your audience.
Don’t just talk and talk like you’re the only person present in the room. Encourage response. If whomever you’re speaking with is not shy and if it’s okay with you, allow them to butt in whenever they feel to do so to clear misunderstanding and miscomprehension. Their interaction can be a close measure of how your communication has been effective to them.
Developing good communication skills requires that you build your confidence first. These tips will not be as effective if you’re feeling unconfident. Be as honest and as authentic as you can. Try to move them by being yourself.You need to observe yourself in many situations – know what works for you and be aware of how you communicate verbally and non-verbally. One of the best pieces of advice is to also learn from others. Notice how they communicate and strategize on making their way better for your own.
Khristina Allen is a part-time guidance counselor, a career life coach and a health and wellness advocate. She is also a holder of a masters degree on Human Resources Management. She also speaks in conferences about communication skills and career life enjoyment.
Posts by Khristina Allen