Being an engaging and effective communicator is one of the essential skills you need in your life! You need excellent communication skills in your personal life, in your workplace, and even when ordering Starbucks!
But some people struggle to get their point across. Others feel like they don’t connect with people while they’re speaking to them. Have no fear!
Your communication skills are about to improve dramatically.
Thinking Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
⏱ 12 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
Minimize What You’re Saying
Is the answer to effective communication less communication? Hear us out first. Imagine that you’re talking to someone, and that person is notoriously talkative.
They talk for hours on end, an endless onslaught of words, jokes, and stories that when you ask them a question, you can barely make out the answer. Can you imagine doing business with a person like this?
Excessively chatty– to the point that they’re not saying anything at all. This is not a proper demonstration of communication.
When you try to talk and communicate with someone, the goal is to share information, isn’t it? Apply this to yourself. Express what needs to be said clearly. Sure, some small talk doesn’t hurt, but it’s important you get your point across.
An important concept to note is that people with exceptional communication skills share that they tend to speak less and listen more– and this is something we’ll talk about in a moment! So when an effective communicator speaks, they do it with purpose and clarity.
And you can too! It’s easy. Think about what you’re saying before you speak; map it out. You want to have an exact point you’re trying to communicate clearly in your head. This way, you can also avoid using unnecessary conversation fillers such as all those “umms” and “ahs.”
People can find them disconnecting and distracting, and they may end up making what you’re saying seem uninteresting or make you appear nervous.
In this modern-day and age, excellent communication isn’t just in person face to face. It’s also via text, email, and online meetings. So this unique tip is dedicated to those struggling to communicate digitally!
You can have the most eloquent, thought-out email, and when you hit send, you spot a fatal typing error. Having the ground swallow you up would be preferable, but it doesn’t have to be this extreme.
Typos can be embarrassing, and in a work environment, it leaves a bad impression. No one, not even professional writers, can completely avoid typos, but what they can do is proofread before sending texts and emails, and so can you.
Whether it’s a text, a report, an essay, an email, or even your CV and resume, double and triple-check it for mistakes. There are tons of grammar and spelling checkers, but you’ll have to carry most of the bulk when it comes to spotting smaller errors.
If the message you’re trying to get across is too important, consider forgoing email and texts entirely and call that person.
Change Your Tone
Here is another unique tip heading your way! The last thing an effective, engaging communicator does is use a monotonous voice. That is just a way to appear disinterested in the conversation and make sure that your listener grows bored as well.
Change your tone! Put an emphasis on important points and words. Be open and allow your feelings to change your pitch. Be careful not to overdo it.
Don’t change your tone to the point that you use a whiny, exceptionally high, and even uncharacteristically low voice. In order for people to take you seriously, your voice should be assertive at times and soft when needed.
Think about all those professionals– or not even professionals– think about all those charismatic and charming speakers you personally know or have seen on TV. As they deliver a presentation or tell a story, their voice is animated. Their pitch goes up and down. They’re always loud enough to be audible, but they’re not yelling.
–which leads us to this! Changing your tone is also related to the volume of your voice. When you’re speaking with one, just a one on one convo, your voice should be soft. In contrast, when you’re addressing a large crowd during a meeting or a presentation, your voice should be adjusted accordingly.
Call People by Their Names
When a person hears their name in a conversation, it both startles and delights them. A person’s name is the strongest connection to their individuality, their identity. For each person, it’s the most important word in the world.
And it is one sure way to get someone’s attention. When you address someone by their name in the middle of a conversation, it’s a sign of courtesy and recognition, whether you’re having a one-on-one conversation or being in a group or work setting.
If you don’t know a person’s name, don’t be afraid to ask that person or if you’re too hesitant, approach someone else who knows them.
Improve Your Vocabulary
Your English teacher was right when they said to use an extensive vocabulary. People judge each other through their range of vocabulary.
Having a wide range of both average and complex vocabulary words allows you to express yourself more elaborately and to understand the person in front of you better.
Learn a new word every day! Even every week will do. Reading also helps expand your knowledge.
And if there is a word that you have trouble pronouncing or if you’re not sure of its meaning, avoid using it until you practice enough to get it right rather than misusing it.
When you finally engage someone in a conversation, impress them with your expressive, meaningful, and eloquent new vocabulary!
Don’t Say It– Express It
Your body language speaks more than your mouth does.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we communicate through physical and nonverbal cues. In showing proof of this theory, a study found that the way an audience perceives a presenter counts 55% on their nonverbal communication.
This means that when you speak, you should have the proper posture for it. Clear communication should never be done with a slouchy or hunched-over pose. Trying to communicate with someone with their arms crossed over their chest is a great indicator that they are closed off to the conversation. If you continuously fidget, it will distract the other person.
Trying to make yourself appear smaller than you are will negatively affect the way a conversation goes. Constantly breaking eye contact or not holding it altogether is a big no-no.
Instead, you want to hold steady eye contact to prove that you’re paying attention, have an open demeanor to appear approachable, and don’t slouch– occupy the space you’re in. Your stance should have your shoulders widened. If you have to power pose before in your office before you go into a meeting if that’s what will get results, then go for it!
The will always be the most important piece of advice when it comes to great communication! You have to be a good listener before you can be a good talker.
When someone speaks to you, you should listen as if they’re the most important person in your life.
Everyone wants their voice to be heard, and sometimes, that translates into engaging in a conversation to speak without paying mind to what the other person is saying. This is one bad habit you need to throw out.
Instead of thinking ahead, contemplating your response before the person is finished speaking, try to listen to what they’re saying.
This doesn’t just apply to a real-life conversation. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, whether it’s a personal or business call, now is not the time to browse through social media, reply to emails, or even text someone else at the same moment. Even if they can’t see you, they’ll know that they don’t have your attention.
This is the stepping stone to being a fantastic communicator. To help you, here are five stages of active listening: the first stage is receiving, followed by understanding, then remembering, evaluating, and finally responding.
As you’re receiving the information, it’s also essential to encourage the speaker; even if they don’t acknowledge it, they appreciate it. Even if it’s a professor, teacher, or presenter speaking, making gestures such as nodding your head to show that you’re following does make a difference.
If it’s the right situation, use verbal affirmations such as the appropriate amount of “yeses” and “uh-huh” and humming to encourage them to continue.
When all is said and done, it’s important to remember that even just putting on a smile and showing a positive attitude will improve your communication skills. Before you know it, people will start responding positively to you, and you’ll forget the days of bad communication!
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