A Primer on Effective Communication Skills

It’s no secret that good spoken communication skills support and enhance all relationships. But sometimes we forget that improving these skills is an ongoing, lifelong process. It’s especially important these days — because we are so used to communicating via text — to remind ourselves to use a different set of communication skills when engaging in conversations.

Here are some basic speaking and listening practices to keep in mind.

Be concrete and precise

If you have a specific message to deliver, plan ahead so that your points are in sequence and don’t confuse the listener.

Don’t inject jargon words your audience may not understand.

Use specific, real-life examples to support your points.

Speak clearly

A clear and confident manner will command attention.

Don’t rush through your words to get to the “important” part of your message; make everything you say worth your audience’s attention.

Don’t interrupt yourself – unless it is truly an emergency, avoid taking calls or responding to messages on your phone in the middle of your remarks.

Demonstrate empathy

Show your awareness of your audience. Acknowledge their context for the conversation or the situation as it relates to the conversation.

Watch tone, volume and body language

Notice if you are speaking respectfully and with consideration towards your audience.  Be aware of your facial expressions and your posture. Maintain eye contact whether you are speaking or listening.

Avoid interruptions

If you’re the speaker in a formal meeting, let your audience know when they will have a turn to speak. Inform them upfront if you want them to hold their questions until you’ve completed your remarks. 

If you’re the speaker in an informal conversation, remember to pause after making each main point to allow the listener to comment or ask questions.

If you’re the listener, don’t interrupt the speaker. If the speaker doesn’t pause for questions or comments, raise your hand.

Wrap up with a summary

End the conversation with a clear statement of the next steps and a review of follow-up items.

Be grateful

Whether you’re the speaker or the listener, close your conversation with a thank you.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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