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​How to Improve your Communication Skills

​How to improve your communication skills

How to Improve your Communication Skills

You may need to do some training to develop your communication skills. You may have a need for training in the following specific areas of communication.

  1. Selling to the public.
  2. Communication of ideas (both to the public and to your colleagues).
  3. Handling difficult people and conflict situations.
  4. Answering difficult or critical questions.
  5. Building self-confidence as a communicator.
  6. Engaging the audience.

How to improve your communication skills.

In a face to face, personal communication, there are three channels of communication in play:

  1. Words: meaning; the language that you employ. The vocabulary.
  2. Voice tones: meaning; the musical elements of speech. Volume, pitch, rhythm, pace.
  3. Body language: meaning; your visual impact; dress, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch. Etc.

Let us talk about the proper use of words

In order to communicate clearly remember the following four rules.

  1. Structure your message.
  2. Define your major terms
  3. Give reasons for everything
  4. Limit the amount

1. Structure your message

Remember that people don't remember the words; they remember the meaning of the words. And in order for your message to have meaning, it must have order and structure. Unstructured ideas are gibberish.

In order for anything to function, it must be in good order.

So don't say your message in any order it comes to you. Impose order on your thoughts and on your language and on the sequence of ideas. Then your message will appear to be more clear and persuasive.

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2. Define your major terms

Many words have multiple meanings and connotations. For example, the word, "power" has many meanings and connotations.

If you say, "I don't have the power to do it". That could mean:

  • "I don't have the authority to do it".
  • "I don't know how to do it".
  • "Someone is stopping me from doing it."
  • I don't have the strength to do it".

It is ambiguous.

Therefore it is important to choose your words carefully. And if you think that there is scope for multiple interpretations of any word that you are using, then you should give a definition of what you mean, by that word, as you are using it, in that moment.

Clarity demands definition.

3. Give reasons for everything

Your first priority as a communicator is to make your message clear: meaning, they must understand what you are saying. Your second priority is to make your message persuasive; convincing, plausible. In order to persuade another person that what you are saying is true or good, you must be able to provide "good reasons to believe"; meaning you must provide some set of facts or a logical argument to prove, to some degree, that your ideas are true ideas and good ideas.

If you don't give any reasons to believe, then why in the world should anyone believe your story?

4. Limit the amount

The following is an important point, mark it well.

Don't say too much. Limit the amount of information that you give in a given unit of time.

The reason that you should limit the amount of information that you give in one session, is the fact that the human short term memory has a very limited capacity. The average person can only take in so many pieces of information and retain that information. How much information can you remember in one sitting?

If you are like the vast majority of people, you cannot remember any more than about 9 bits of information in one go.

And for many people, it is less than nine.

For example; if I asked you to memorise this list:
Mr Jones needs to be at London Heathrow by 6:00 PM.

You will remember all of it because there are only three units to the message.

  1. Mr Jones
  2. Heathrow
  3. 6:00 PM

But if I said to you,

"Mr Jones, who, by the way, is a very handsome fellow, but who dresses shabbily, needs to be at Heathrow in time to catch the 1930 flight to Istanbul, so that he can attend the conference on genetically modified grains and their possible application in the middle east, in the next decade, and so needs to arrive at Heathrow by about six, so that he has plenty of time to check in and pass through security and maybe have some time to eat something substantial before the flight.

Then there is a chance you will miss the point.

Why? Because there is too much information.

Don't say too much.
More is not better.
Brevity is a virtue.

Confidence is expressed through your voice tones.

  • Volume; try to speak 5% louder than the others. Don't be timid. A slightly louder voice will imbue your words with confidence.
  • Pitch: try to speak a little deeper. Do not speak with a shrill, high pitched voice. Deeper voices are considered to be more authoritative.
  • Pace: speak with a measured pace. Not too fast. Fast talkers are seen as excitable, and or light-weight intellects. Measured pace will imbue your message with gravitas

Body language: meaning; your visual impact; dress, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch. Etc.

When you are in a work situation, dress in a manner that you think will be in harmony with the positive expectations of the group.
When you are in a work situation, err on the side of caution. Make your dress sense a non-issue.
Don't dress to impress. And don't dress to shock.
Dress in a way that is likely to get a favourable impression in the minds of the majority of your audience.

Posture:

Here is the rule. Stand up straight. Sit up straight. Look as if you are awake.
Don't slouch. Don't lean. Don't sprawl.
Look alive.

Gestures:

Animate your speech with arm and hand gestures. Move your body; but don't point at people.
Don't point your finger. Don't point your pen.

Eye contact:

Give sufficient eye contact to each person in the room; sufficient to make a direct connection between your mind and theirs. But don't overdo it and glare at anyone.
Look into his eyes for a while and then look away.
You will notice that some people want to hold your gaze and some other people will look away when you make eye contact. Give more eye contact to those who seem to want it. Make less eye contact with those who seem to be uncomfortable with direct eye contact.

Everyone is different in respect to their need for eye contact. So play it according to the feedback you are getting.

If you want any more information on communication skills, please attend our communications skills one day course.

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