Have you ever wondered why some speakers or presenters can command the attention of everyone in the room, while others struggle to compete with the mumblings of a disinterested and easily distracted audience?
While I believe it’s practice that makes perfect, these “10 tips to help you improve your communication skills” will direct you in the right path.
Communication skills can be learned by anyone.
These 10 tips will help you attract and keep your audience’s attention. They will work whether you are speaking officially to a large room of people or talking in a one-on-one situation.
10 Tips To Help You Improve Your Communication Skills.
1. You Must Be Sincere. If you don’t fully believe what you are saying and trying to convince others of, then don’t say it because it will show. You must look and sound sincere, believable and enthusiastic if you want others to buy-in.
2. Practice Makes Perfect. Any sign you are not 100% familiar with your subject or 100% confident in the delivery of your talk will be evident. If you don’t want to practice in front of your family and friends, do it in front of your mirror.
3. Use People’s Names, it makes you memorable because you remembered them! People like to be acknowledged and remembered. You will earn their respect and their attention.
4. Be Interested, Not Interesting. People love to talk about themselves and being a good listener is all part of being a good communicator. So take interest in others, ask questions and make sure the conversation is balanced.
The key is to be aware that people do notice if we are not really listening. And so we must focus on the discussion and not allow our minds to wonder.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie
5. Slow Down. Don’t Talk Too Fast.
People’s brains evaluate information at different speeds, but the one speed everyone can understand and take in is a slow, steady pace.
Not so slow that you send everyone to sleep, but your audience needs pauses so we can contemplate what we’ve just heard before being bombarded with the next thought. People who talk too much or too fast make it difficult for everybody to follow and understand.
6. Establish Eye Contact. It is suggested that you establish eye contact with those you speak with. This applies whether you are speaking to one person or a room full of people. This also applies if you are on a hangout, webinar, or just shooting a video to share. Talk directly to the camera and stay focused.
If speaking to a group of people, take turns selecting one member at a time to focus on. Look them in the eye, and when you have their attention, focus for a few seconds so they also realize you just shared eye contact before looking away.
Each time you are moving across a stage or looking around a room, choose a different person to share eye contact with. This will make all of them feel included.
7. Visual Aids. If delivering a presentation, consider visual aids to add interest. The aids should not take all the attention away from you. It should merely enhance your presentation and work to keep the audience’s attention on what you are saying.
8. Use Stories, Anecdotes and Examples to liven up your conversation. We all have a story and you might be surprised at how powerful sharing your story is to others. They may have a similar story and this will help build rapport with them.
Avoid jokes unless you know exactly what you are doing and are confident of how your audience will receive it. Keep in mind it is very easy to offend people and unless you know how to deliver the joke successfully, you won’t get any laughs.
9. Know Your Audience. Whether you are presenting or talking face-to-face you need to know your audience.
You wouldn’t deliver a speech on early childhood education to a group of university leaders, right?
Make sure you match the topic of your talk with your audience if you want their undivided attention. The same rule applies to general conversation.
Keep in mind what your ultimate goal is and maintain the focus on that.
If you have made arrangements to discuss your business with somebody new, don’t get sidetracked because you may not get a second opportunity with this person.
10. Add Excitement In Your Voice. A monotone speaker will send your audience to sleep. Sound excited when appropriate, slow down when you want to stress something important or serious, use different volumes and speeds and inflections in your voice.
Note: If you overdo this in casual conversation you risk appearing insincere and trying too hard. The key is to sound enthusiastic, but natural!
Use every opportunity you have to perfect your speaking voice:
How do you answer the phone?
How do you sound on your when you leave a voice message?
How do strangers respond to you when you first meet?
Every time you open your mouth to speak think of it as homework. Pay attention to how others respond to you and learn from your mistakes.
The bottom line is to practice. It may sound cliche but “practice does make perfect”.
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