Ask any employer, chief executive officer or start-up entrepreneur about the key skills they look for in an employee, and, more often than not, they will list (besides other job-specific requirements) “effective communication skills”.
It doesn't matter which position you hold — you need to communicate well. And the higher you want to scale, the better you need to be at it.
But what exactly do we mean by “effective communication”?
“Connecting”, “persuading”, “delivering a message”, “sharing ideas”, are some descriptions that spring to mind.
But does effective communication merely involve talking and sharing ideas? And how exactly do you persuade and win others to your way of thinking? How do you connect with others so you can make your message stick?
Speak well and excel
Effective communication is an important facet of your personal and professional lives. You need to communicate your ideas across effectively so that they make an impact.
Unfortunately, while communication is important, its true significance and importance are often overlooked. This is because people sometimes erroneously think of communication skills as a set of stand-alone skills, rather than as key components that underpin the successful application of other skills such as conflict management, sales and negotiation, building strong and fruitful relationships, building a business, impressing at interviews and so on.
Being able to speak well and strategically will not only help to bridge the gap between you and your audience, it will also help to build up your image as a strong and steady personality, which is an increasingly important trait in a competitive, knowledge-based economy.
The better and more dynamically you are able to speak in different situations, the higher your chances of excelling.
Here’s what you need to speak up and stand out effectively:
The old adage “they don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care...” still holds true. Listeners today are more sophisticated and discerning, and they want to know that they are speaking to a person who cares about the topic, about them, and that they get value out of listening to him.
Tip: Speak from the heart and share your experiences. Impress your audience with your ability to think on your feet by addressing their responses effectively. They will appreciate you more for it.
Why are you on stage, and what do you want to get out of it? Are you there for personal gain, or for a bigger purpose?
The best speakers and highest achievers communicate to share their dreams and their purpose. They are able to move and inspire people to help them achieve those goals.
Apple’s late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs set out to change the world by “thinking differently”. What is your purpose for speaking on stage?
Tip: Have a bigger purpose in mind when you speak to an audience. Share your values and invite your audience to journey with you.
There are generally two ways to engage an audience — through content or through personality. The best speakers are able to use both to get their audience on their side.
Engaging through content usually entails sharing similar experiences that your audience can relate to. You also share how you coped and provide solutions.
Engaging through personality, more often than not, involves the element of sincerity. It is harder to define, as it varies from person to person, and crowd to crowd. But, in general, speaking with authenticity, and showing that you really care about helping your audience is always a good thing.
Tip: You will engage your audience when they can relate to you on common experiences and problems. Show that you are serious about helping them, and offer them solutions.
Asking questions and acknowledging the responses from your audience gives you a positive presence. Doing so will help you find out if they are on the same page as you or if they have any nagging doubts that need to be clarified.
Either way, it sends a message that you care about what they are learning, and gives you the opportunity to shine by sharing even more related content.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Put yourself in your audience's shoes and prepare a few FAQs that you think people might ask. Show that you have “been there and done that..” and that you can offer solutions.
Finally, to excel as a communicator, you must know your stuff! Read and research widely and deeply into the topic you will be speaking on. Your audience will expect you to be able to talk about the subject in detail, and share perspectives on their related thoughts and ideas.
They will appreciate the time spent with you simply because they have benefited from your knowledge and experience. And you can be sure that they will be sharing their positive feelings about you with like-minded friends on social media like Facebook or Twitter.
Tip: Position yourself as an expert. Read widely and deeply and always be ready with different perspectives and analyses. Your experience counts too, and the more you have, the more you can share.