When I am invited to address a company meeting or facilitate a brainstorming session, one of the top five topics requested is about effective communications.
People enter their careers with little public speaking or business writing experience. Even college graduates I’ve worked with would’ve benefited from remedial writing and speech classes!
“Shallow vocabularies” are a root cause of communication breakdowns.
My anecdotal research finds “shallow vocabularies” are a root cause of communication breakdowns.
A shallow vocabulary limits how we express a thought. For example, colorful descriptors or more accurate references are limited by this shallowness. It can be improved by reading and capturing and looking up words from reading materials:
- Read whatever you can and from different sources.
- Review advertisements and note how language is used.
- Read technical passages from manuals and see how different words are used.
- Compare how different terms are used in a variety of disciplines like creative writing or scientific notation.
- Become a master of homonyms: there, their, and they’re! Make a game out of it. Invite family members to join in especially if you have children. Your effort will be noted and you will serve as a positive role model for lifelong learning.
Poor communications create waste
Part of the need to unravel the mystery of communications skills is how much waste is created with poor communications, personally and professionally.
- Consider the times you felt misunderstood by a family member or at a company meeting and you left frustrated and less productive because you didn’t get what you needed.
- Think of how many re-do’s caused a project delay.
- Communication relies on an intention of exchange. An open exchange is free of intimidation or threats.
- The greater command over your vocabulary and speaking skills, the greater likelihood people will perceive you as a leader and “go to” person; you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
Unfortunately, some people play games to serve a personal agenda. They can use loaded language (what I call hyper speak, using “big” words to show how smart they are!), histrionic expressions and gestures to create drama or mask what the speaker doesn’t know, and “double speak” (deliberately ambiguous intentions, think politicians) to mislead and remain uncommitted to a topic.
Enjoy these 10 tips for improved communication skills
Let’s explore a few tips for clear communication within a business, family, or an organization:
1. Share your ideas clearly with specific examples to illustrate a point.
2. Speak in Plain English (promoted by President Bill Clinton when the government was rewriting government pamphlets during his tenure).
3. Cultural nuances effect communications. Research is essential to understand how best to engage with prospective clients or audiences you may address.
4. When possible, provide written directions or instructions to support verbal commands.
5. Define terms with your audience. For example, people have a personal definition for PR, public relations. Be sure you provide your definition for sake of discussion at the moment.
6. Are you sharing to express or impress—a saying I learned from the National Speakers Association.
7. Decide why you are speaking in the first place—intention counts. Do you want to put someone down, demonstrate how smart you are, share ideas to convince the listener to your point of view, demonstrate a point?
8. Practice speaking to express your ideas. This is a positive way to retain and expand personal power.
9. Record your voice and listen for distracting tones, verbal quality, and clarity.
10. Join a Toastmasters group in your area. You’ll gain confidence and master your communication skills.
Please leave a comment to let me know how you used one of these recommendations.
Positive Potentials LLC
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