Regardless of your age, your environment, or your experience, effective communication is a skill you can learn. The greatest leaders of all time are also communicators and speakers. In fact, communications is one of the most popular college degrees today. People recognize the value of a truly effective communicator. With a little security and knowledge of the basics, you can make yourself understood in no time.
Part 1 of 5: Create the Right Environment
Step 1. Choose the right time
As the cliché goes, there is time and place for everything, and communication is no different.
Avoid starting discussions about loud topics late at night. Few people will be enthusiastic about dealing with important topics such as finances or large-scale planning when they are very tired. Instead, send messages and host discussions about these topics in the morning or afternoon, when everyone is attentive, available, and most likely to respond clearly
Step 2. Facilitate an open and intimate conversation
Pick the right place, one that provides freedom for communication to open up, flourish, and mature. If you need to tell someone something that will not be welcomed (like the news of a death or a breakup), do not do it in public, near colleagues or other people. Be respectful and considerate of the person when communicating in a private place. This will also give you the space to broaden the dialogue and evolve into mutual understanding, as well as ensuring that the interaction works in the right way.
If you're giving a presentation in front of a group of people, be sure to check the acoustics in advance and practice projecting your voice clearly. If necessary, use a microphone to make sure your audience can hear you
Step 3. Eliminate distractions
Turn off all electronic devices that could interrupt the conversation. If the phone rings, laugh at first, then immediately turn it off and keep talking. Don't let outside distractions interrupt your concentration. They will distract both you and your listener and it will definitely end communication.
Part 2 of 5: Organize your communications
Step 1. Organize and clarify the ideas in your mind
You should do this before trying to communicate any ideas. If you are passionate about a topic and have not yet addressed some key points necessary for communication, your ideas may sound confusing. These key points act as anchors, giving your speech focus and clarity.
A good rule of thumb is to pick three main points and keep your speech focused on them. That way, if the topic gets off course, you can go back to one or more of these key points without feeling confused. If this is the case, it may also be useful to write down these points
Step 2. Be very clear
From the beginning, make it clear that you want to convey information. For example, your goal might be to inform others, obtain information, or take action. If people know in advance what you expect from communication, things will flow smoothly.
Step 3. Stay on topic
Once you begin to convey the three main points, make sure that everything you say belongs to the message you are trying to communicate and reinforces it. If you've already thought about the topics and condensed the essentials, the relevant phrases will likely come to mind. Don't be afraid to use them to underline your points. Even confident and famous speakers reuse their key lines over and over again to emphasize and reinforce their speech. Don't forget to keep the overall message clear and direct.
Step 4. Thank your listener
Thank the person or group for the time they spent listening to you and responding. Regardless of the outcome of your communication, even if the response to your talk or discussion was not what you expected, end it politely by properly respecting everyone's comments and time.
Part 3 of 5: Communicate through speech
Step 1. Make your listener feel comfortable
Do this before starting the conversation or presentation. Sometimes it can be helpful to start with a favorite anecdote. This will help the listener to identify with you as someone who behaves the same way as him and who has the same everyday concerns.
Step 2. Articulate your words well
It is important to convey your message clearly and unambiguously so that it arrives in a way that is understandable to all listeners. People will remember your words because they will instantly understand what you say. For this, you must transmit them in a clear and simple way instead of using more complex phrases.
Step 3. Speak clearly
Speak at a volume that allows everyone to hear you and does not come across as too quiet or out of context. Take special care to pronounce the key points correctly to avoid any kind of misunderstanding. If babbling is a defensive habit that you use because you fall prey to the fear of communication, practice your message at home in front of the mirror. Sometimes it is best to talk about what you want to communicate with those with whom you feel comfortable. This step solidifies the message in your own mind. Be aware that any practice or refinement of your expression will help you develop confidence.
Step 4. Listen carefully and make sure your facial expressions reflect your interest
Actively listen. Remember that communication is a two-way street and that while you speak, you are not learning. By actively listening, you can determine how much of your message reaches your listener and if it is being received in the right way or if it needs to be modified. If your audience seems confused, it is often helpful to ask them to rephrase part of what you've said using their own words. This can help you identify and correct incorrect views about what you were trying to communicate.
Validate people's feelings. This will encourage them to open up and help them feel better if they are sad
Step 5. Make your voice sound interesting
A monotonous voice is not pleasant to the ear, so good communicators use a variety of tones to improve communication. Norma Michael recommends that you:
- Raise the pitch and volume of your voice when transitioning from one topic or point to another.
- Increase your volume and slow down each time you touch a special point or make a summary.
- Speak quickly, but pause to emphasize keywords when requesting an action.
Part 4 of 5: Communicate with Body Language
Step 1. Recognize the people
Sure, you probably don't know the people in the audience or that new friend in your group, but they nod to what you say and are intentionally watching you at the same time. This means that they are connected to you. So reward them with your appreciation!
Step 2. Also, be clear and unequivocal with your body language
Use facial expressions consciously. Strive to reflect passion and build empathy in your listener by using gentle, pleasant, and mindful facial expressions. Avoid negative facial expressions, such as frowning or raising eyebrows. What is negative or not will depend on the context in which you find yourself, especially if we are talking about the cultural context, so base yourself on your situation.
Quickly identify unexpected behavior that suggests a clash of cultures, such as a clenched fist, a hunched posture, or even silence. If you don't know the culture very well, ask questions about communication challenges you may face before you start talking to people in an unfamiliar cultural context
Step 3. Communicate by looking into the listener's eyes
Eye contact builds relationships, helps convince people that you are trustworthy, and shows interest. During a conversation or presentation, it is important to look the other person in the eye and maintain contact for a reasonable period of time. However, be careful not to overdo it. Use eye contact within nature, about 2-4 seconds at a time.
- Don't forget to involve your entire audience. If you speak in front of a Board, look each member of the Board in the eye. Not looking at one of them can easily be seen as a sign of offense and could cause you to lose business, admission, success, or whatever it is you want to achieve.
- If you are speaking in front of an audience, pause and make eye contact with a member for up to two seconds before resuming your presentation. This helps individual members of the public feel valued on a personal level.
- Keep in mind that eye contact is culturally mandatory. In some cultures, it is considered disturbing or inappropriate. Ask about this particular point or do your research ahead of time.
Step 4. Use breathing and pauses at your convenience
There is a power in pauses. Simon Reynolds claims that pausing makes the audience lean in and listen. It helps you emphasize your points and gives the listener time to absorb what is being said. It also helps make your communication come across as more compelling and makes your speech easier to absorb and more comfortable.
- Take a deep breath to steady yourself before you start communicating.
- Get in the habit of breathing steadily and regularly during conversation. This will help you maintain a firm and calm voice, and it will also help you stay relaxed.
- Use pauses to take a breath between your speech.
Step 5. Think about how your gestures are interpreted
Use your hand gestures carefully. Be aware of what your hands are saying as you speak. Some hand gestures can be very effective in highlighting your points (open gestures), while others can be distracting or even offensive to some listeners and tend to close the conversation or act of listening (closed gestures). It is also helpful to observe another speaker's hand gestures to see how you interpret them. Emulate the ones that you find effective and captivating. Keep in mind that the most effective gestures are natural, slow and emphatic.
Step 6. Stay in control of your other body signals
Pay attention to your wandering eyesight, your hands picking up lint from your clothes, your constant breathing, your movements, and so on. These small gestures add up and decrease the effectiveness of your message.
Have someone record your talk, and then take the time to fast-forward your speech. Any repetitive gestures or unconscious habits will stick out like a sore thumb and be comical. Once you have detected this behavior, it will be easier to modify your unintended body language and control its reappearance
Part 5 of 5: Communicate Effectively During Conflict
Step 1. Get on the level of your listener
Don't put yourself above the other person. Doing so creates a power struggle and takes the conflict to another level. If your listener is sitting down, sit down with him.
Step 2. Listen to the other person
Let me say how you feel. Wait until he's completely finished speaking before starting your turn.
Step 3. Speak in a calm voice
Don't yell and make accusations about the other person or their actions.
Step 4. Let him know that you have heard his point of view and that you understand his opinion
Take the time to make statements such as "If I understand correctly, you say that …".
Step 5. Don't try to end the discussion at all costs
If the person leaves the room, don't follow them. Let her do it and come back when she's calmer and ready to talk.
Step 6. Don't try to have the last word
Again, this could lead to a power struggle that escalates and never ends. Sometimes you will have to accept that you do not agree to move on.
Step 7. Use first person messages
When expressing your concerns, try to start your sentences with the first person and clearly state how their actions make you feel. This will make the other person more receptive to your complaints and more empathetic. For example, instead of saying “You're careless and that bothers me,” say “I feel like different levels of disorganization can be a problem for us. Disorganization is something that seems to enter my mind and limit what I feel I can do. To be honest, it seems to make me uneasy more than it probably should."
- Be careful with humor. While a little humor built into the conversation can go a long way, don't take it too far or rely on it to cover things that are hard to say. If you constantly laugh and joke, they won't take what you say seriously.
- If you're giving a presentation to a group or audience, be prepared to tackle tough questions to avoid being caught off guard and nervous. To maintain effective communication, Michael Brown recommends a rule for tackling difficult questions within a group or audience. He suggests that you listen on behalf of everyone in attendance, ask questions, and repeat the theme. Share the answer with everyone; that is to say, he moves his eyes from the person who asked the question in the direction of everyone present so that everyone "knows the answer." Take advantage of the shared response to move on and change the direction of your speech.
- Do not complain or beg. None of these actions can instill respect or interest. If you are very upset, excuse yourself and resume the discussion later, when you have had an opportunity to reflect.
- Don't ramble. Doing so will prevent them from understanding or taking your message seriously.
- Look online for examples of great speakers in action. Rate some of the most viewed TED talks. There are many role models that you can instantly access through online videos. Treat them like your "personal communication trainers"!