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Having great communication skills is an essential part of being successful in any job or career. Communication involves speaking, listening, and conveying ideas. But it’s so much more than that.
Communication skills can be difficult to master, but with the right techniques and strategies, you can become a better communicator in almost any situation. In the professional world, strong communication skills are a must-have for anyone who wants to thrive, not just survive.
Improved communication skills will lead to more opportunities, faster promotions, and higher performance reviews. If you’re looking to take your communications skills to the next level, read on for some helpful tips and tricks.
1. Outcome-Based Communication
Communication is more than just talking to people. It’s also about understanding what they want, what they need, and what they’re trying to achieve.
Lilian Chen, Co-Founder and COO of Bar None Games states, “In order to be an effective communicator, you need to focus on the outcome of your communication. What do you want to achieve? Keep this in mind as you craft your message and choose your words carefully.”
Great communicators are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and view a situation from their perspective. You should be able to answer the question, “What do they need to hear in order to take action?”
2. Be an Expert Listener
There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is just a physical act that you can do with your eyes closed. Listening, on the other hand, is active and involves more than just your ears.
In order to be a better listener, you need to be present, focused, and aware. You have to be able to take in what the other person is saying and apply it in some way to your life.
“When I’m communicating with someone, I always make sure to be an expert listener,” says Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce. “I pay attention to their body language, tone of voice, and word choice. This helps me better understand where they’re coming from and what they need.”
Strong listeners are people who are able to identify the main points of what is being said, who can summarize the conversation afterward, and who can apply the information to their own lives and situations.
3. Don’t Just Listen; Also Ask Questions
Good listening is important, but so is asking questions. If you are not 100% sure that you fully understand what the other person is saying, then you need to ask questions.
There is a difference, however, between just listening and not understanding what someone is saying and actively listening and not understanding what they are saying. If you feel like you’re on the edge of understanding but not quite there, you need to ask questions.
“Active listening is more than just hearing what the other person is saying,” explains Lindsay Malu Kido, CEO of Empower Pleasure. “It’s also about asking questions to clarify what they’re saying. This shows that you’re engaged in the conversation and that you care about understanding their perspective.”
If you want to become a more effective communicator, make sure you ask questions when you’re confused or unsure. Not only will this show that you are actively listening, but it will also make the other person feel respected, appreciated, and cared for.
4. Know Your Audience
No matter what type of communication you are doing, it’s important to know who you are speaking to. What are their interests, what do they like, and what topics do they find interesting? What are their goals, aspirations, and problems?
George Fraguio, Vice President of Bridge Lending at Vaster says, “The best way to ensure your message is well-received is to know your audience. Consider who you’re communicating with and what their needs are. This will help you determine the best way to get your point across.”
By knowing these things, you will be able to tailor your speech so that it meets the needs of the audience. You can also avoid putting people in awkward or uncomfortable situations.
5. Learn to Speak Slowly and Carefully
This one may seem a bit obvious, but it is something that many people struggle with. If you want to come off as a confident, in-charge person, you need to speak slowly and carefully. This is especially important in business settings and meetings.
“If you want to be a better communicator, one of the best things you can do is learn to speak slowly and carefully,” says Caroline Duggan, Chief Brand Officer at Lumineux. “This will help ensure that your message is clear and concise.”
But if you are speaking quickly and carelessly, it can be very distracting for the people who are listening to you. So if you want people to focus on your content, you need to slow down and speak more clearly.
Also, make sure that you are not raising your voice towards the end of your speech. The best way to slow down your speech is to pause after each sentence. This will give your audience a chance to process what you’ve said, and it will make you sound more confident.
6. Use “I” Statements
When communicating, it’s important to use “I” statements. This means that you focus on your own thoughts, experiences, and feelings instead of assuming things about the other person.
Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB Sports says, “I find that ‘I’ statements are a great way to ensure that my communication is clear and effective. So instead of telling someone that they never listen to me, I might tell them that I feel unheard when they don’t listen to me.”
Furthermore, most audiences respond better to “I” statements because they feel like you’re speaking directly to them and their needs.
7. Confidence Is Key
Communication is all about building trust and credibility. If you come across as nervous, timid, and unsure, people are definitely not going to trust you. You want to exude confidence and strength whenever you are communicating with people.
“A lack of confidence can derail even the best-laid communication plans,” warns Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing in North America at Optimeal. So, what can you do to avoid this?
One of the best ways to build confidence is to practice what you’re going to say out loud. By practicing your speech out loud, you will be able to work out any kinks in your speech that may make you sound unsure or unsure.
When you practice your speech, also pay attention to your body language. Are your hands in a comfortable position? Are you standing straight or slouching?
8. Networking Works
Another great way to build your communication skills is to network with other people. Join professional organizations, attend industry conferences, and reach out to people in your field of interest.
“When you surround yourself with effective speakers, you’re more likely to become one yourself,” says Alex Wang, CEO of Ember Fund.
Joining a professional organization gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn from each other. Attending industry conferences is a great way to network with people from different companies and industries.
Finally, reaching out to people will help you grow your network, and you may even end up making a new friend in the process. Strong communicators network with other people, and they use those connections to their advantage.
9. Don’t Forget Body Language
As we’ve mentioned above, the way you communicate is not just limited to what you say. Your body language is very important, as well. Are you fidgeting with your hands? Is your posture relaxed or rigid? Are you crossing your arms or legs?
All of these things can affect the way people perceive you and your message. If you want your audience to take you seriously, you need to have good body language.
New Melchizedec S, Founder of Expertrec states, “It’s important to remember that communication is more than just words. Your body language can say a lot about how you’re feeling and what you’re trying to communicate. Pay attention to your nonverbal cues and use them to your advantage.”
10. Stick to the Point
Communication isn’t about getting a gold star for talking for as long as possible. Communication is about effectively transferring information and ideas from one person to another.
If you want to come off as a strong communicator, you need to know when to stop. For instance, if you are speaking to someone one-on-one, you should be able to summarize your thoughts and plans in 15 minutes or less.
If you’re speaking in public, you should be able to wrap up your speech in 10 minutes or less. And if you can’t say what you need to say in the allotted time, then you need to reevaluate your speech and cut out unnecessary information.
“Going off-topic for too long or rambling on can often lose people’s attention,” says Temoer Terry, Partner of The Mommy Care Kit. “If you want to be a better communicator, make sure to stick to the point. Be clear and concise in your delivery.”
There’s definitely an art to effective communication. It takes practice and determination to become a master communicator, but it’s definitely worth the effort. By following these tips from experts, you’ll be well on your way to taking your communication skills to the next level.
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