As a business professional, your day is filled with interactions ranging from short telephone calls to important conversations with colleagues, sales presentations, and the occasional formal speech.
Each interaction, even the simplest conversation, presents an opportunity to make an impression and have an impact on others. What type of impression are you leaving? How effective are your communication skills? As you either thumb through your daily planner or scan through your palm pilot, review your recent interactions. Did any of the following issues arise?
- You were asked to speak up or repeat yourself
- Your message was misunderstood
- You couldn’t get the full attention of your audience
- You didn’t get the results or reactions you had anticipated
- You didn’t make the sale or close the transaction
These phenomena are quite common in the course of the typical business day. What causes these missed opportunities? Usually the missed opportunity stems from one of the following communications flaws:
- Speaking too rapidly
- Speaking with too low of a volume level
- Slurring your words or mumbling
- Speaking in a tone that lacks confidence, interest, or authority
- Failing to organize your thoughts before speaking
- Lacking eye contact or other non-verbal body language to support your message
- Speaking too much and listening too little
Whether it’s nervous energy or just bad habits, the results are the same. Your message is not understood as you intended. Improving your communication skills takes time and practice. Even the best speakers benefit from rehearsal and preparation!
- If you are preparing for an important call or conversation, take a few minutes to jot down notes and organize your thoughts. Locate a mirror and smile as you speak on the phone.
- If you find yourself speaking rapidly, try emphasizing the pronunciation of important words. Give the listener something to remember.
- Ask questions! Check to see if your message is being understood by the audience.
- Practice presentations in front of a mirror. Make sure your gestures and body language match your intentions.
Great communication skills set you apart from the rest of the pack. If it is worth saying, it is worth being understood.