How To Improve Communication Skills
Leaders aspire to improve their communication skills to make an impact, achieve goals and influence people. Achieving organizational goals becomes…
December 25, 2020 | 6 mins read
Leaders aspire to improve their communication skills to make an impact, achieve goals and influence people. Achieving organizational goals becomes easier when ideas are communicated effectively and widely. Effective speaking skills can help you make a difference, stand out at the workplace and connect with your team.
Let’s look at 15 strategies to improve communication skills that will help you have a successful career.
Understanding how to improve your communication skills will help you create an impact at the workplace. The way you communicate with your coworkers defines your relationship with them. Conveying ideas clearly and listening actively are the two main aspects of communication. Here are some ways on how to improve communication skills:
One of the best ways to improve communication skills is to prepare in advance. Make a note of how you sound and your oral delivery—pace, pitch and pause—by practicing in front of a mirror or with a friend. It’ll help you prepare for a big speech or a client presentation. This way you can edit your content for comprehension, accessibility and clarity if you find it lacking in any of those aspects.
Appearing confident is important to make an impression and engage your audience or listener. If you seem nervous or distracted, you may not get your point across as you may lose your audience’s attention. But if you can communicate with complete confidence, you’ll likely make an impact and leave a lasting impression.
It’s easy for people to get distracted while someone is speaking, especially if the key points aren’t conveyed at the beginning. If you want to pique your audience’s interest, start with a key idea. Building suspense and waiting for the right moment to share your main argument may not work in a professional setting. Since everyone is, typically, pressed for time at the workplace, you must communicate key ideas as soon as possible.
One of the most effective tips to improve communication skills is to deploy Aristotle’s Appeals. It’s a persuasion framework, where you appeal to the audience using three key factors—Logos (Reasoning), Ethos (Credibility) and Pathos (Emotions). They imply winning your audience’s trust with facts, which will establish your credibility so that they’ll take your words seriously. Building an emotional connection with your audience is one of the most important communication strategies. It helps you understand what they need and frame your sentences accordingly.
If you want to make an impact, what you say has to be to the point and direct. The best way to do this is by using the power of three. This means highlighting three key points to convey your message, intention and motivation. The Rule of Three signifies that you’ve done your research and have complete knowledge of the subject. People tend to retain more information in threes. So, using this technique will help your words stick even after the conversation has ended.
Our attention span is decreasing almost every year, so it’s important to elevate your strategies for communication. Use storytelling to make your communication more exciting and grab your audience’s attention. Storytelling makes communication more compelling and interesting, especially if you’re talking about something technical.
Pepper your presentation or lecture with personal anecdotes or examples from past experiences. This helps the listener identify with you. They’ll find you relatable and approachable, making it easier for them to understand what you’re trying to say. Anecdotes are also an effective segue into conversations when you want to switch topics. It will become easier to connect unrelated ideas by sharing relevant personal instances.
Communication is not just about the words you speak or the content of your speech. If you want to learn strategies for communication, you must pay attention to the way you speak. Your tone, pitch and volume play a critical role in your speaking skills. For instance, if you’re in a business meeting, your tone and pitch should be polite, soft and clear. You may talk loudly when you’re delivering a presentation, but not when you’re having a one-on-one conversation with your manager.
Communication is both verbal (speaking) and non-verbal (body language, facial expressions and gestures). Nonverbal communication is just as important, if not more, than the spoken word. You can say a lot with your body language than with your words. Making eye contact and presenting a positive image can play an important role in public speaking. Non-verbal cues like hand gestures, eye contact and nodding can give listeners the impression that you’re open and friendly.
Don’t take feedback as criticism. Instead, try to implement it to improve your communication skills. If a coworker tells you that you speak too fast, you can try to pace yourself while speaking. Adjusting your speaking skills according to the listener is a powerful skill. Implementing feedback shows that you’re willing to learn and grow as a professional. No one expects perfection, but a willingness to improve is always appreciated.
Imagine a scenario where you’re delivering a presentation and your audience is either yawning or browsing on their phones. This is not what you want. Listening to your audience means tapping into their emotions. Paying attention is one of the many important ways to improve communication skills. You’ll know when to stop, ask a question and engage directly with the audience.
Engaging with your audience is all about captivating them and grabbing their attention. You can’t deliver a monologue and expect positive results. Communication means to share information and ideas with others. If you are able to do this successfully, it means that you’ve advanced as a speaker and listener. If someone has a question, give them the floor to speak. This way you can maintain an open channel of communication where everyone gets a chance to participate.
When you’re seeking answers to how to improve communication for success, it’s important to note the difference between being persuasive and being overpowering. Sometimes when we speak, our words are loaded with personal bias and prejudice. This may be unintentional, but it’s still important to keep track of how you’re presenting yourself to your listener. You don’t want to come across as someone too forceful. Just to try and get them to agree with you.
Always make space for questions at the end of a conversation, speech or presentation. The listener may want to clarify a few things they didn’t understand by asking follow-up questions. This is also a chance to drive your point home by showing them that you know what you’re talking about. Answering these questions will also help you establish your credibility and clear any misunderstanding that may have cropped up while you were speaking.
We rely on virtual communication now more than ever. Emails, video conferences and virtual meetings have become the norm. Working virtually can create gaps in communications, cause overlaps and confusion. It’s important to streamline your communication process, especially if it’s online. Getting everyone on the same page should be your priority in the context of virtual communication. If you can convey your message clearly and prioritize key ideas, you can save both time and effort.
Identifying how to develop communication skills will help you be a successful communicator. It will take a little determination and a strong will to improve your abilities. Many of the concepts discussed here are part of Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course. You’ll learn strategies for effective communication through useful frameworks like the PAM (Purpose-Audience-Message) Framework. Convey your ideas effectively and clearly with our high-impact online course.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the COMMUNICATE Habit such as What is Communication, Process of Communication & Business Communication to improve your communication skills.