6 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for the Presentation Training Institute. He regularly produces content for a variety of business and presentation blogs, based around the transitional challenges which comes with communication and public speaking.

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Written by Ryan Bridges

“Use your words.” This directive is given to children to help them learn to express their feelings verbally instead of through temper tantrums. In modern society, words are only the start of how people let each other know what they are thinking and feeling. Effective communication drives the business world as well as healthy interpersonal relationships.

Today’s youth have grown up with access to instant communication technologies such as texting. Communication may be able to move at lightning speed, but informal methods of sharing information can lead to breakdowns in the intention of a message just as quickly. Learning how to connect with others in a respectful and efficient manner is key.

Keep a Record
It is tempting to believe your memory is infallible for facts and deadlines, but distractions and a heavy workload may impair your skills. Writing down highlights from meetings will reduce the time it takes to accomplish your objectives and will reduce your stress level. Use an organization system so you can easily find what you’ve recorded again.

Listen with Intention
Anyone who has given a speech knows the feeling of eyes staring blankly as you try to gauge whether anyone is paying attention to you. As a listener, indicate your presence by maintaining proper eye contact. This includes taking short breaks to look down at your notes as well as nodding when you agree. Ask specific questions that reflect on what has just been said to indicate you are tracking ideas. Rephrase words to make it clear you are absorbing the content being presented.

Determine the Best Method of Communication
Reach your audience in a targeted manner. Use texting if you are approaching a deadline or need a quick response to a simple query. Send an email if you have a lot to share or need to discuss complex policies or procedures. Be sure that you address the recipient, sign your name, and write out words fully. If you are in a hurry but are also facing a situation that needs delicate deliberation, call the person. It may be helpful to follow up a phone call with an email to document what you discussed.

Wait Patiently
Your phone battery ran out in the middle of a text conversation with your significant other. After charging, the screen is flooded with text after text. Rather than copying this type of behavior, pause in conversations to allow time for others to respond. People may get interrupted, leaving them unable to reply to you immediately. Make only benign assumptions about their intentions. Check in if a significant amount of time has passed by asking where things are at in the process. Finish communication chains by stating your next step and providing a time frame in which you plan to reply.

One Word at a Time
Let others complete their thoughts rather than interrupting or finishing their sentences. Walking all over people verbally often leaves them feeling like you did not hear them. Put away unnecessary communication devices while others are sharing ideas in order to provide them with your total attention.

Prepare Before Delivery
If communicating an idea was like a dish of food, make sure it’s marinated and fully cooked before presenting it. This means outlining what you intend to say before meeting with someone and reviewing your notes ahead of time. Edit any written work for grammar and spelling errors. Accomplish this is by reading your writing aloud.
Healthy communication skills lead to each person concluding a conversation feeling heard and understood. They can take time to perfect and master. Through preparation, the right method of communication and respectful listening, you will be able to not only get your point across but you will also achieve your goals with a smile on your face.

For more tips and resources relating to improving your organization’s communications, contact Marleni Marte, Communications Manager. Or visit our full events calendar for upcoming workshops.

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