While the vast majority of people might think that communicating is as easy as talking, that’s not the case. Talking is the process of moving the lips, teeth, and tongue to make sounds and form words, but what is communication and what are the secrets of great communicators? As opposed to only talking, communicating is the process of delivering thoughts and ideas in a manner that’s understandable and engaging for those on the receiving end. A good communicator isn’t someone with a sweet voice or an attractive accent, rather a person who can reach out to people of different backgrounds and engage them in a way that encourages the development of relationships and the stimulation of the mind.
Seeing communication in this light makes it obvious that not everyone is a good communicator, but there are ways to improve communication skills to better reach out to audiences. Find out how to improve communication skills with these secrets from the best of the best communicators. Here we are 10 secrets of great communicators.
1. Understand Your Audience
A huge chunk of being a good communicator is learning to understand your audience before your speak to them. Who are they? What interests them? What do they want to hear? By answering these simple questions, you get a better idea of how exactly you should go about reaching to a particular audience. Communicating is all about tailoring your speech to fit the people you’re talking to; it’s about learning what ways are most effective when trying to get them to appreciate what you’re trying to say to maximize the influence and power of your speech. You wouldn’t talk to a bunch of elementary school students the way you talk to corporate bigwigs, and vice versa. Target your talk and get the best out of every speaking opportunity.
2. Don’t Get Technical
Numbers, hard facts, and jargon are heavy to hear and hard to understand. Of course, we can’t all avoid the need to mention a few statistics now and again, especially when in a formal, academic, or business speaking event. But that doesn’t mean we have to mention it all. The beauty of effective communication is that you can support your speech with visuals, and that’s where statistics and numbers are best displayed. By providing your audience with images, charts, and tables for hard numbers, you make it easier for them to understand what point you’re trying to get across.
3. Develop Intimacy
A generic approach to communicating will make a speaker seem distant and un-engaging which is why when learning how to improve communication skills; it’s important to develop a level of intimacy with your audience. When learning how to develop communication skills, don’t look at your listeners as a group, rather, see them as individual people all here to find out more about something that you are recognized as a reliable source for. Treat them as individuals by using a conversational tone rather than a generic manner intended for large groups of strangers.
4. Let Them Talk
Effective communication is a two-way street, and that applies even to people speaking on a stage. To further engage your audience, try to get them to talk as well. Develop an atmosphere of collaboration and constructive dialogue by encouraging your audience to speak their minds and share their thoughts on what you’re talking about. Ask a question, ask for opinions, and offer incentives to people who participate.
5. Body Language
If you thought that effective communication was all about stringing words together, then you’ve got a whole world of body language left to learn. An audience is likely to become more interested in a speaker who is dynamic and comfortable, rather than someone who seems unsure of what they’re talking about. Standing still with your hands in your pockets leaves you looking like you lack the confidence to command an audience or a group. Remember – you’re selling an idea which is a difficult product to peddle. Be emphatic, let emotions run high, and let your body talk along with you.
6. Enunciate and watch Your Pronunciation
What good are your passion and confidence if your audience can’t understand what you’re saying? Even people with a neutral accent tend to sound unintelligible on stage because of the nerves. Before you take to the stage, practice what you want to say and simulate the event to a small group of family or friends. Find out which words tend to sound slurred or unclear when you say them, and take the time to fine-tune your speech to improve communication skills effectively.
7. Humor Never Hurt
One of the best ways to capture someone’s attention is to make them laugh. Inject an appropriate joke or a clever remark here or there to keep your audience entertained. This will have them glued to you all throughout the talk, as opposed to keeping it dead serious which has a tendency to becoming boring and uninteresting.
8. Keep Things Clear
That was an entertaining talk! Funny and comical all throughout. But what exactly were you trying to say? The problem with communicators who use too many metaphors, jokes, and puns is that they fail to give a substantial, meaningful talk leaving their audience wondering what exactly they wanted to say in the first place. Don’t lose sight of your intentions and stay on track. The last thing you want is to send your audience home not knowing what they listened to you for.
9. Commanding Presence
There are some people who just walk into a room and command the attention of those around them without having to utter a single word. This is a powerful tool that anyone who wants to improve communicating skills should work to develop. A commanding presence will have people listening, understanding, and believing every single word that comes out of your mouth, so make sure you bring that with you the next time you take to the stage.
10. End with a Bang
What is communication after all if not a method to leave a lasting impression? Most people won’t remember the things you say throughout your speech verbatim; all they’ll take home with them is the gist. That’s why it’s important to close your talk with a few wise words or a clever closing to make sure your idea sticks. Ending your speech with a bang will leave those thoughts lingering in their head perhaps years after you’ve delivered your talk, so make sure you write up a good ending.