There’s a lot of tips and content on improving communication skills out there. I’m going to go through five of the ones that I think are most important.
#1 – Develop Confidence
First, develop confidence. This takes time and practice. As you get exposed to situations where you’re talking to more people, networking with more people, getting in front of more people, and communicating a message, you’re going to start to develop more confidence.
If you are shy or nervous, it’s going to come across with a shaky voice. If you want people to believe in you and whatever it is you are selling or talking about, you need to be confident about the message.
Research out there shows that improving your posture is a big part on building confidence, which leads me to point number 2:
#2 – Work on your body language
Don’t be slumped over in a chair at a meeting and hide in a corner. If you’re acting small, you’re going to sound small and your message might not come across.
You want to sit up straight when seated. Stand up tall when standing. Shake someone’s hand firmly when you meet. Don’t give a spaghetti noodle handshake that is flimsy and weak.
Show that you are able to meet others where they’re at and that you’re in a position of power as well. That will help you share a confident message.
You can feel a huge difference when you walk with your head up high and chest out versus dragging your feet with a slouched back.
#3 – Practice active listening
My third tip is to practice active listening. Make sure that you are listening to what people are saying. After all, people like talking about themselves and hearing themselves speak. So you can let them go right ahead.
When they are talking to you, be sure to say things like, “Right”, “Yes”, “Totally”, “I understand”, “I agree”.
I’m sure others have said this as well, but I’ve heard Grant Cardone saying to always agree with the person even if you don’t agree with them. If you are delivering a sales pitch and handling objections, you agree and then inform.
For example, let’s say someone says something you are offering is too expensive. You can respond “I understand that this is pricier, but our clients absolutely love this product because of the service they get from our team.”
#4 – Ask for feedback
Number four is to ask for feedback. After you do a presentation or whenever you speak to someone, ask them what they think, what their thoughts are, and for feedback.
They may have taken a message the wrong way or perhaps they were unclear on something you said. When you ask for feedback and get a feel from the people you are speaking with, you can understand what parts of your message or delivery might need to be worked on and improved.
Tell them they won’t hurt your feelings if they didn’t like your pitch or your presentation or if they don’t like your product.
In sales, it’s better to get a yes or a no, not a maybe.
In a video I watched recently, entrepreneur Dan Lock talks about high ticket sales. If you haven’t heard of Dan, he’s hilarious but also has a lot of valuable content on YouTube, a podcast, and more.
In that video, Dan said that before you do a sales pitch or talk to someone about a product or service, say, “hey in my experience, most people who say ‘maybe’ mean no. So I would appreciate it if you just tell me yes or no if you’re not interested, just tell me no and it’s okay. If you’re interested, tell me yes and we’ll continue the conversation.”
Asking for feedback and making sure you’re clear about avoiding “maybe” can be very helpful in having a productive conversation.
#5 – Get comfortable with winging it
Last but not least, number five is to get comfortable with winging it and going with the flow.
It’s important to have a couple key bullet points sometimes on a note card or on a slide deck, but you don’t want to look like you’re reading word for word off of anything.
You should know your content and pitch well enough to cover basic points off the cuff where it sounds completely natural. You don’t want to sound like you’ve memorized a script.
How does one improve?
So how do you get better at all of this stuff? Well, it takes practice.
There is a great club called Toastmasters that helps you get better at your speaking. There are various chapter across the world.
When I worked in oil and gas, we had one at the office and it met for an hour at lunch every Wednesday.
One practice activity we did was to draw a paper out of a hat. The paper would start with a sentence or phrase that you would have to read.
You would then have to speak spontaneously off the cuff for 2 minutes without saying “uhms” or “ahs.”
The paper might start off by saying something like, “if I lived on the moon…” and basically they start a timer, and you’re supposed to talk for two minutes and make it sound interesting and grammatically correct.
So here’s an example, if I lived on the moon, I would not know what to do or how to sleep. I feel like I would wake up and I would be floating out into space. What would I eat can you use the restroom on the moon? How would that work?
See how practicing something like that can help you improve?
Communication is so important! Make sure that you work on your skills and constantly improve.
The better and more clearly you can communicate a message, the better it will be received by others.
This is important whether you are making a Facebook video ad, doing a presentation, or even speaking to a group such as a Mastermind that you are a part of.
So real quickly, just to recap, here are the five communication tips again:
- Develop confidence.
- Work on your body positioning.
- Practice active listening.
- Ask for feedback.
- Get comfortable with winging it and going with the flow.
“Speech is power; speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Practice speaking and improving your communication in a mirror. Or perhaps record yourself speaking spontaneously on any subject for a few minutes.
Watch the video and feel free to cringe. The first time you do this, it’s not going to be pretty.
But like with anything, you get better with time.
Consider joining a group such as Toastmasters or working with a paid or professional speaker to get feedback and improve.
I’m fortunate right now to be getting feedback and coaching from a guy who was a paid speaker for 2 years across the nation. He would get on Zoom calls with a coach very often and get direct feedback.
The crazy thing is, he’s actually an introvert, but when he’s up in front of a room, you would never know it. He has great tonality, pitch, and his voice carries. He’s able to crack jokes, act natural, and go with the flow. It’s insane.
He said he does love it now, but he still gets drained after a lot of it and then goes home and just relaxes in the silence at times.
I feel like I’m pretty good at communicating and presenting, but feedback I’ve received before is that I tend to be monotone. Don’t believe me? Listen to the first few episodes of my podcast.
Now, I’m getting better of course. Instead of saying (INSERT MONOTONE VOICE) “welcome to my podcast…” I’m like (INSERT TONALITY AND EXCITEMENT) “WELCOME TO THE ENTREPRENEUR MOTIVATION PODCAST!!”
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