Your ability to communicate is not only important for your career success but also for your personal growth and happiness. Soft skills, like being able to communicate ideas or persuade others, are fundamental in today’s society, so it is essential that you perfect your communication skills. If you need to focus on developing your communication skills, here are four steps that will help get you there in no time.
Step 1. Connect with Your Audience
Whether you are communicating with one person or a large group, it is vital that your listeners see you as someone they can trust who is credible. Communication is not just limited to speaking face-to-face, either, and these considerations apply to written modes of communication, as well.
Establishing your purpose and choosing the best way to communicate is the first step to perfecting your communication skills. The quicker people know what you are trying to accomplish, the sooner they will be able to understand what you want or are doing and whether they should engage with you.
Connecting with your audience will also help them to engage with you. Make sure they know why you are a credible source of information and about your areas of expertise or skill. Telling people a little about you personally also helps them develop empathy for you and connect with you on a deeper level. Trust is vital in any communication exchange, so establishing it and your purpose early on are crucial to getting your message across and continuing the necessary dialogue to accomplishing your goal.
Step 2. Listen More Than You Talk
Effective communication is not just about talking or delivering information. It is much more about listening to and being aware of others’ needs. Pay attention to the words other people use, their body language, and their facial expressions. These tell you a great deal about whether they are connecting with you, if they have questions or concerns, or if you are not being clear in your communication.
When you are in a meeting or at a presentation, taking notes helps improve your listening and comprehension skills. Reading emails and electronic messages carefully can avoid confusion, and not reading too much into text can help you to avoid problems.
Step 3. Be Clear and Concise
One of the simplest ways to improve your communication skills is to learn to say what you mean in fewer words and speaking or writing clearly. When it comes to written communication, using editing and revising tools can help you learn to avoid repetition and get to the point more quickly. Practicing your diction and speaking in a clear, slow voice can also improve your speaking skills. Avoid feeling like you must fill the space with words and people will respect that you get to the point.
Step 4. Respond to Feedback
In all types of communication, you get feedback from the other party or parties. This can be in the form of facial expressions, questions, overt criticism, written messages, and other verbal and nonverbal messages. All of these let you know if your message was heard or if you need to adjust. Paying careful attention to the feedback given to you be receivers will help you improve your communication skills and better deliver your message in the future.
There is certainly a lot more that goes into perfecting your communication skills, but these four basic principles will get you started. When you learn to connect with your audience, listen better, become more precise and concise, and to adjust based on feedback, your communication skills will improve dramatically.