Practice Speaking and Listening Well
Despite the fact that companies spend more time and money developing communication skills than any other management skill, most of us don't communicate well.
Public speaking and attentive listening are flip sides of the same communications coin. You can improve both skills with these tips.
There's a simple three-step strategy to giving memorable presentations:
First, get it together. Prepare so well you know your material cold and can practice how you say it. Develop a worksheet that identifies your objective, audience benefits, key points, illustrations, and closing. Ask several people to listen to your practice run and have them critique your performance.
Second, give it hell. Warm up before you go on stage. Knowing your material and how you're going to say it allows you to concentrate on making eye contact with your audience. Research indicated persuasion is 8 percent content (what was said), 42 percent appearance (how the presenter looked), and 50 percent style (how it was said). Watch for things like mechanical gestures, vocal monotone, and distracting nervous habits. use visuals but don't talk to them. Talk to your audience.
Finally, get better. Build on each presentation to improve the next one. Videotape your performance and study what you did right and wrong. Ask for feedback. Make notes on what you want to improve.
Of the four basic communications skills - speaking, reading, writing, and listening, - writing is taught most but used least. Listening is used most but taught least. Think of how much of your time each day is spent listening to your boss, your colleagues, and your staff. Are you really getting the most out of each conversation? If not, you need to work on this skill. Make sure you can hear.
If your problem goes chronic, go to a doctor and get your hearing checked. Stop talking, both aloud and mentally.
Look for something you can use. Find the real meaning in what's being said. Take notes if you need to.
Focus on the content, not the speaker. Don't let your feelings about the speaker overshadow your ability to hear what he or she is saying.
Test your understanding by paraphrasing. If you do understand, evaluate what was said and give feedback to the speaker.
Finally take action. Don't mouth support, give it.
Listeners Must Receive the Right Message
To communicate effectively, you must express yourself accurately and in a way that will accomplish your purpose.
This can only happen if your listeners are receiving and understanding your message.
A man speaking to you in a language you don't understand, for example, is not communicating - no matter how long he talks.
Verbal communication, which in most cases is one-on-one, will be successful only if it fulfills these four requirements.
A message must be conveyed. Translating your thoughts into spoken words is not enough,. The man speaking in a language you don't understand isn't communicating because he can't convey his message.
A message must be received. Effective communicators know that they have not conveyed their meaning until they're sure the other person received it exactly as it was sent. A priest once gave permission for the fund-raising committee at his church to hire a ballet dancer. He had not received the right message. They were asking for permission to hire a belly dancer.
There must be a response. The goal of communication is to obtain the desired response. Be clear and assertive when pin pointing the response you expect - especially in one-on-one communication. I would like you to make three calls a day is better than You ought to make three calls a day.
Each message must be understood. Communication builds understanding. Two angry people yelling at each other may hear each other's words, but they are not making any attempt to undersher.
Simple and clear
To make sure you're understood, keep your communications simple and clear. Here's how:
First, get your thinking straight. Muddled thinking turns into confusing communication.
Say what you mean - exactly what you mean.
Get to the point. Good communicators don't beat around the bush.
And they don't waste words. The more words you use to make a point, the more confusing the point will be.
Be real. You'll be more convincing and more comfortable if you act naturally.
Finally speak in images. This will help people visualize thoughts and concepts.