Whether you’re preparing to speak at a conference or delivering an internal presentation to your team, good communication is crucial. Even if you’re already quietly confident in your speaking abilities, there’s always room for improvement. Great communicators make for great leaders so here’s how to develop your communication skills even further.
- Don’t Always Rely on Visual Aids to Get Your Points Across
- Study and Understand Non-Verbal Communication
- Master the Art of Timing
- Learn to Listen More and Talk Less
- Emotional Awareness, Intelligence and Management
- You Need to Over Communicate
- Attend a Workshop, Course or Event
1. Don’t Always Rely on Visual Aids to Get Your Points Across
Sure, visually appealing presentations are a good way to engage an audience but try not to rely on the visuals too much. Instead, flip it and put a big focus on your words. Utilise compelling storytelling and your body language to communicate your points to the audience.
Unless they’re absolutely necessary, try not to use a visual aid. You’ll notice that when you’re speaking, you’re the focal point and all eyes are on you as visual presentations can usually hinder communication rather than help. Steve Jobs banned them at Apple and Sheryl Sandberg did the same at Facebook when meeting as a team.
As Jobs stated: “People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
2. Study and Understand Non-Verbal Communication
Whether it comes from factual research or self-help gurus, you’ll always hear that communication is more non-verbal than it is verbal. Some estimate that this could be as high as 80% of all communication - so it’s not always about the words you say.
It might sound strange but to develop your communication skills, you need to understand non-verbal communication. It’s not just observing body language either. Really focus on the tone and pitch of your voice, body movement, posture, eye contact and facial expressions. Paying attention to these little nuances ensures you can convey your messages clearly and means you can understand others better too.
Don’t slouch, fold your arms or make yourself appear smaller than you are. Whatever the context, fill up the space you’re in and maintain eye contact.
3. Master the Art of Timing
Look no further than stand-up comedians for examples of effective communicators.They’re usually one-person shows and for the whole compelling act, they keep their audience engaged from start to finish. Why?
They’ve mastered the art of timing.
They don’t hammer home a point repeatedly as the audience will lose interest. Like them, you need to feel out the audience you’re communicating with. Determine when you should move on to a new topic and when you should reiterate something you mentioned previously. The timing can decide how a conversation goes and how someone will take your comments.
4. Learn to Listen More and Talk Less
There’s often a tendency to forget that communication is a two-way street. You can’t just ‘broadcast’ your message to someone and fail to listen to their response. We’re all a little guilty of not really listening to others in the conversation but thinking about what to say next.
Listening isn’t just hearing what the other person is saying. It’s also about how the words are spoken and the non-verbal signals sent with them. To develop your communication skills, give the other person your full attention and genuinely concentrate on what they are and aren’t saying.
Respond to their thoughts and value them. Use techniques like reflection and clarification to avoid confusion as it also shows that you’re listening - not lecturing.
5. Emotional Awareness, Intelligence and Management
Being emotionally aware of yourself and the people you’re speaking to is a good start. It means you’re emotionally intelligent but like any skill, you can develop it further to help you become a better communicator.
Everyone you talk to will present a different personality. Some will be loud, brash and outspoken while others will be more nervous, quiet and remain in their shell. This means you need to understand these things beforehand and tailor how you communicate with them. Focusing on this will make you more self-aware of both your emotions and those around you.
It also makes you more empathetic as you can share their emotions and understand what makes them tick. However, to develop your communication skills, you need to do more than just be emotionally aware or intelligent - you need to manage and master them as well.
6. You Need to Over Communicate
There are going to be situations where you feel as though you’re clearly communicating something when in reality, you’re not clear enough. A Stanford University Study asked half of the participants to tap the rhythm of 120 famous songs. The second half had to guess the songs the tappers were tapping.
The first group thought the listeners would guess 50% of the songs. In reality, they guessed less than 3%. There’s an important lesson here - the things we think we’ve communicated to others clearly might not always be the case. They could still be confused, even if you think they understand everything. That’s where the power of storytelling and knowing your audience comes in.
If it looks like they don’t understand, reiterate your message. Try to give more than one perspective as well so your audience can see it from different sides.
7. Attend a Workshop, Course or Event
The last thing you want is a Two Ronnies four candles situation when communicating with someone. Sometimes, the best way to develop your communication skills is by learning from some of the best communicators around. Whether they’re mentors, coaches or successful business people, their experience can rub off on you and you might find new tactics to try out for yourself.
A good way to do this is attending workshops, courses and events. They’re usually hosted by people that excel in communication - they have the experience and can share them with you so you can incorporate them into your own communication style.
In fact, there’s a good chance that these workshops, courses and events will share even more proven ways you can develop your communication skills while improving the ones you already excel in. They’re invaluable to your development and you’ll pick up skills that will benefit you both in your work and personal lives.
Communicating effectively can bring challenges of its own. Trying to communicate in front of a large audience, mustering up confidence, the fear of presenting and more. These feelings are completely normal but to help you approach communication the right way, we’ve created the Communication Skills Handbook.
Develop Your Communication Skills With This Handbook
You might want to tell a story during a presentation, you have an important point to get across in a small team meeting or you need to speak at an event - our guide covers the essentials. We’ve included plenty of tactics you can refer to which will help you develop your communication skills further.
Get your copy using the link below.