How to Improve Your Communications Skills
As humans we communicate daily; we talk to family, text friends, and email colleagues. Communication has been the cornerstone of human civilization, and as we progress so do our means of communication. Hundreds of companies have been created solely to communicate with others; whether they’re messaging apps that let you talk to your friends and family, social media platforms that allow you to communicate with strangers across oceans and continents, or communication companies that help you deliver messages to clients.
In business, communication is a vital aspect of our career — whether it’s in the form of a presentation, a speech, or an email — learning and applying the basics of communications will ensure you get your point across to your target audience correctly. Here are some pointers to help you take your communication skills to the next level:
- Know your audience
To properly communicate with your audience, you have to know who they are. An email to a colleague could have a friendly, humorous tone, while an email addressed your boss or a client should be professional and courteous. An internal presentation can contain jargon and language people at your company know and understand, but in presentations or speeches given to people outside your organization, it’s best to use simple language others can understand.
- Tailor your message
Your message should differ based on how and where you say it. An email should be concise, to the point and with clear tasks, duties, or responsibilities, while a presentation should grab the listener’s attention by capturing details in graphs, charts, and infographs. A speech could have anecdotes and personal experiences to better drive your point home and engage your audience so they’re not reaching for their phones while you talk, while a conference call should contain inquiries on items that weren’t clear in an email/presentation/meeting.
It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. Listening, however, is different than just hearing; to listen is to take in what’s being said, analyze it, and formulate the proper response, if needed. At work, truly listening to what your line managers have to say will let you tap into their experiences, while listening to your direct reports will help you see things from a different prospective and keep your ideas fresh.
- Accept feedback
It’s not easy hearing that our work isn’t as good as we thought it was, but feedback is the only way to grow in any endeavor we take on, and communication is no different. Listen to the pointers people might give you on your presentation, speech, or email, and apply them to the next one. A seasoned manager or colleague could offer tips and tricks to improve your communication skills — don’t let your ego stand in the way of growing.
In conclusion, we might communicate every day, but proper business communication is both an art and a science; it can be learned and modified when new communication methods, needs, and strategies surface. Getting your thoughts and knowledge across to your audience could mean the difference between a promotion and stagnation, so don’t underestimate this vital tool!