According to a survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, communication skill tops the list of the most important quality sought in job candidates. It is one of the fundamental skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Unfortunately, with the rise of social media networking, effective communication is fast becoming a challenge.
Effective communication can help to foster a good working relationship between you and your staff, which can, in turn, improve morale and efficiency. You see, communication does not only help to facilitate the process of sharing information and knowledge, but it also helps people to develop relationships with others. This means that poor communication will result in poor relationships, both in business and in our personal lives.
In this blog post, we’ll be sharing with you 10 proven strategies to improve your communication skills.
- Understand the fundamentals of non-verbal communication (Body language)
Body language is as important as the words you speak. It communicates to others how you are feeling emotionally at that point in time. For instance, if you lack confidence, your body language will transmit the information to others faster than your words will.
According to an ACM Publication, it was discovered that nonverbal communication accounted for 55 percent of how an audience perceived a presenter, which means that a majority of what you say is communicated via your body language than your actual words.
The good news, however, is that you can control and influence your body movement. For instance, sitting up straight instead of hunching over or widening your shoulders instead of slouching, maintaining eye contact and the likes are some of the ways you can improve your body language. Thus, improve your communication skills.
- Know your audience
try to find out where your audience is from, their cultural norms and beliefs, their emotional temperament, and the like. This will help you communicate better because you can relate with them in a familiar tone. Also, you’ll know the kind of stories to tell and the best language style to communicate.
- Engage your audience in the discussion
Regardless of how eloquent you are, all audiences have an attention span which is why you should interact with them in the course of your discussion. Ask questions and encourage your listeners to do the same.
- Say just enough to get your message across
Okay, you have a lot to say because you want to ensure that your point is well noted and understood, but nobody enjoys getting bored by the continuous sound of someone else’s voice.
Before you begin to speak, think about the point you want to make, the reason you are responding to someone, and the essence of the conversation. With that in mind, you can approach the conversation from the important point and say just enough to get your message to sink in.
- Start and end with key points
Reiterate the key points of your discussion at the beginning and the end of your conversation to ensure that your audience understands the takeaway points. That way, you are sure that your communication was well understood.
- Timing is important
Again, no one likes the sound of other people’s voices better than theirs, which is why you need to master the art of timing.
To be a great communicator, you must be able to determine your audience’s mood, know when to move on, and know when to reiterate a point. You should also learn to respect your audience’s time. Don’t get so carried away trying to make a point that you end up delaying them more than necessary.
- Learn to listen
An excellent speaker is, first, a good listener.
According to Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, you should “Listen more than you talk.” You need to first listen to what others have to say in order to communicate effectively. When you listen, you can provide thoughtful answers or ideas which show that you took your audience’s concerns seriously. It gives them a sense of importance and they will be happy they had the discussion with you in the first place.
So, instead of formulating your response while the other party is passing across his/her message, listen carefully to them. People want to know that they are being heard. At that moment, the person/people should be the most important to you. Give them your undivided attention.
According to a study known as “the tappers and the listeners” carried out by a graduate student of Stanford University in 1990, one-half of the participants were asked to tap the rhythm or melody of 120 famous songs. The second half of the participants were asked to guess what famous song the “tappers” were tapping to.
While the tappers estimated that 50 percent of the songs tapped would be correctly identified. Surprisingly, only 2.5 percent of the 120 songs were correct.
The study shows that it is important to communicate clearly and to over-communicate, especially when sharing new ideas. To communicate clearly, you can include storytelling, hand gestures, and the like. However, this doesn’t mean that you should talk for 3 hours when your audience wants 1 hour. It simply means that you should give more than one perspective of the same thing so people can see it from different sides.
- Respect your audience
You need to understand that your message is not just about you and what you have to say, but about your audience. You should sincerely care about their needs and their own perspective. Also, you should give them an audience when they speak.
- Ask for honest feedback
One of the advantages of seeking honest feedback is that people will help you discover areas where you can improve. Hence, helping you become an effective communicator.
Whether it is your colleagues, business partners, or friends, seek honest feedback from whichever party is truthful enough to tell you the truth.