10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

As a coach, most of the people within my coaching circles are good communicators.  They’re often able to communicate very complex issues in simple enough terms that non-technical people can understand them.  So, what gets in the way of using our good communication skills?

Poor communication relates mainly to a reluctance to speak up, a failure to recognize that we have information that could benefit others, talking too much and very limited time.  Multiple factors matter when looking to improve your ability to communicate.  A few of these factors include: the ability to actively listen, using the correct tone of voice, and having the correct body language.  Paying attention is just one part of this.

Here are a few tactical tips on how to become a better communicator.

  1. Speak often but briefly 15 to 30 seconds, if possible.  Ask more questions, provide fewer solution statements.  Headline your points in a sentence or two.
  2. Create an information checklist when getting ready for a meeting.  We should list only the most important things we want to make sure we cover.
  3. How would you explain what you are talking about in a way that would allow someone who is not an expert to understand your key points?  Having this type of mindset will help you to communicate effectively.
  4. Avoid thinking out loud.  If you have prepared your key points well enough, you won’t need to ramble.  Be selective and intentional about what you say.
  5. Prepare mentally and emotionally for important meetings.  Get yourself in as calm a state as possible.  Mentally rehearse what is going to happen in the meeting and approach the engagement with an open mind.  Think about who will be in the meeting.  What are they likely to react to or ask about?  What aspects of what you are there to discuss will most impact them.
  6. Picture yourself calmly and succinctly making your points and staying focused.  Prepare your “bag o’ tricks”.  Put points you want to make, questions you want to ask, and/or insights you want to offer into the bag.
  7. When we listen intently and are fully present in meetings, we are better able to identify the right time to introduce something from our “bag o’ tricks”.  Once we have said our piece, we should stop talking.  Developing listening skills is a large part of effective communication.
  8. Sloooooow down.  When we get anxious or excited, we have a tendency to go too fast with our verbal communication.  When we slow down, it actually relaxes us.  A three second pause may feel like an hour to us, but it’s still three seconds to our audience.
  9. Create a feedback loop for ourselves.  We can ask our trusted colleagues to provide us in the moment feedback when possible.
  10. Hold after- actions debriefs with them when appropriate
  11. Lastly, don’t forget to maintain eye contact.  This is a simple one but often forgotten.

You probably have good communications skills already.   If you practice using them in the service of others, you may find yourself less self-conscious and more other-conscious, and that’s what makes a good communicator.

Until next time, my friends.

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