7 Skills for Effective Communication

7 Skills for Effective Communication

What Does Communication Entail?


Do you desire to be that speaker who commands the attention of every audience? Would you like to know what it takes to communicate more effectively? Did you know that communication is more than simply exchanging information? It involves employing the required skills in conveying a message clearly. The fundamental idea behind communication is expressing your thoughts and having a meaningful discourse. For many, communicating more clearly requires learning some essential skills. Let’s discuss seven of these skills.

7 Skills for Effective Communication

Avoid Pause Fillers

Pause fillers are short (often meaningless) words or sounds we use to fill the little pauses that occur while we decide what to say next. Pause fillers come as non-words and even existing words that are irrelevant to your speech. Some of them are um, uh, okay, you know.

Although these words don’t add meaning to your speech or change the message you`re communicating, they perform a purpose in speech. They allow you to think about what next to say. When you find yourself rattled while speaking — whether you are nervous, at a loss for what to say next or distracted — it’s easy to lean on filler words. This supposedly gives you a moment to gather your thoughts and continue your speech, and in some cases, is used to indicate to the audience that they should pay attention to you.

Pause fillers also appear in writing as unnecessary adverbs and empty phrases that add length but not substance to what you’re trying to express.

Don`t use pause fillers. Instead, be quiet during your speech. The silence won’t last long. The silence helps you remember what to say faster and also has a way of drawing the attention of your audience back to you. It leaves them wondering what you’re about to say next.

It is difficult to pay attention to a speaker when every third word is a filler. To pass your message across effectively, you have to keep your audience engaged. When we continually use pause fillers, the audience is likely to lose interest in the speech and get distracted. Pause fillers get in the way of emotional stories or fascinating experiences that you are trying to share. The audience likes to believe you are acting and speaking naturally the way you would in a one-to-one conversation. Of course, most people use pause fillers during conversations. Bringing it with you to the microphone distracts the audience from your speech. The fillers make you sound nervous, distracted, and disengaged, rather than authentic.

If you want your audience to buy into your message, you need to make it clear and easy to follow. Sadly, having to overlook so many pause fillers to understand your speech requires an effort the audience is not willing to make. They expect to listen and understand, but giving them an extra task is giving them a reason to tune out of your speech and focus on something else. That, you definitely don`t want.

The good news is that this weakness can turn into a strength by replacing the pause fillers with pauses. Pauses are not easy to embrace. For most speakers, even the slightest pause can feel like an interminable silence. That is because we think faster than we speak. Because of this discrepancy, when you are giving a speech, your perception of time is distorted, and what feels like eternity turns out to be a few short seconds for the audience. Pauses make you sound calm and collected, and this can help in various ways. Let`s take a look at three of the benefits of pauses.

3 Benefits of Pauses
  • They Help you Collect your Thoughts

If you lose your train of thought, a pause gives you some time to get back on track, as long as it is not too long as to make the audience notice you have forgotten what to say.

  • They Calm your Nerves

Taking a pause before speaking is vital for people with glossophobia. It is also useful in the middle of your speech because your fear is likely to make you ramble. So a well-placed pause gives you some time to calm your nerves and doesn’t appear to your audience that you are scared.

  • They Build Suspense

Pauses are useful for building up suspense; your audience begins to wonder what you’re going to say next. It is a good tactic when you’re trying to get the audience`s attention. Strategically, well-placed silence can build suspense, emphasize a point, or give the audience some time to absorb a critical point. We should learn to embrace the use of silence while speaking. Its importance cannot be exaggerated.

Body Language

Body language is an essential aspect of public speaking. Communication is not restricted to words, but a combination of words and other forms of non-verbal communication such as eye contact and gestures. Body language conveys our words and ideas; it gives a non-verbal representation of how we feel. With proper hand and finger movements, communication becomes more compelling and credible. Poor body language entails pacing, turning your back on the audience, or hiding behind the lectern.

Gestures

7 Skills for Effective CommunicationGestures are an essential part of our visual picture when we speak in public. They are reinforcements of the words and ideas we try to convey and a non-verbal representation of how we feel. They have a defining impact on how one receives words and can make or break the impact of the speech.

Gestures can help to emphasize specific points of your speech and strengthen your message. They come in handy, especially to portray you as a confident speaker, in control of themself. Gestures are the second line of communication, in addition to the speech. For instance, a firm handshake reveals confidence, and a nod shows acknowledgment. Not only do gestures serve to complement and support what is being spoken, but they can also act as an essential tool of communicating. Gestures involve using your hands and arms while talking. There are types of gestures you can use when communicating. Let`s discuss three of them.

3 Types of Gestures
  • Symbolic Gestures

These communicate words, numbers, and positions. For example, three fingers for number three, and pointing to show a direction: “She went that way.”

  • Descriptive Gestures

These gestures communicate an idea or movement. You may sway your hands to show a flow of movement or use your hands to show how important your point is.

  • Emotional Gestures

These gestures convey feelings. They entail a clenched fist to show anger, or a broad smile to show happiness.

Eye Contact

A simple but crucial thing you can do to enhance your impact as a communicator and persuade others to see your point of view is to sustain meaningful eye contact with your audience. Good eye contact helps you build a rapport with your audience and keeps them engaged. Eye contact shows confidence and gives your audience a reason to listen to you and trust you. Deliberate eye contact with individuals in the audience can communicate how much you care about their thoughts. It creates a bond between the speaker and their listeners. When you make eye contact with someone, they are more likely to look back at you, listen to you, and connect with your message.

You may make eye contact in an irregular and unpredictable ‘’Z’’ formation — looking at one person for three to five seconds and then moving across the room and settling on another face. When you fail to make eye contact with your listeners, you look less authoritative, less believable, and less confident. Try not to focus on an individual or a cross-section for too long, as you may make them feel some discomfort. Do this throughout your presentation, and enjoy the thrill of engaging an audience.

Facial Expressions

7 Skills for Effective CommunicationBeing conscious of your facial expressions is vital. In trying to make your audience comfortable, smiling always works. It shows the audience that you’re happy to be there and confident too. The movements of your eyes, mouth, and facial muscles can build a connection with your audience. Facial expression can convey the feelings of the presenter — a passion for the subject, or depth of concern for the audience. Your facial expression must be consistent with the information you are communicating. The face as a whole tells much about human moods. Smile before you begin speaking, it is important. Smile while you speak too, except your speech requires that you do otherwise. 

Movement

Your movement forces people to focus and follow you. The way you walk from your seat to the stage is essential. When introduced, you are to appear eager to speak. You should walk confidently from your seat to the lectern. Who would you rather listen to — a speaker who moves confidently across the stage or one who hides behind the lectern; one whose movement correlates with their speech or one who clings to the lectern?

Audiences respond better to speakers who appear comfortable. Movement is a vital part of your speech, and requires planning, just as you plan the words you say. Your movement should be smart and purposeful — you`re not to look like you are just wandering around the stage. The eye is ineluctably attracted to a moving object, so any movement you make while speaking attracts attention.

The best time to move to a new spot is during the transition between points. During the transition between points, take your time to pause and look into the eyes of the audience. When you want to speak, use transitional expressions that are supported by your movement. You should stand still when you want to transmit an idea. If you are fixed to a spot, the attention of the audience is entirely on you. Standing still also helps with voice projection. Try not to shuffle your feet, pace back and forth, or rock on your heels when speaking. These mannerisms distract your audience and undermine the credibility of your speech

Get More Familiar with Verbs, Adjectives, and Adverbs

Unique words attract listeners. Instead of using regular words that everyone is familiar with, try getting familiar with new words, and use them. Instead of just saying beautiful, why not explore these?

  • alluring
  • attractive
  • prepossessing

Instead of just saying nice, why not use more precise and interesting adjectives to describe things:

  • befitting
  • decorous
  • genteel
  • seemly

Instead of just saying slowly, you may use words like:

  • ploddingly
  • sluggishly

The point here is that there are varieties of descriptive words that you can use.

Final Words…

Improving our communication skills is an ongoing process. With much practice, it will become easier to deliver a great speech and communicate more effectively with your audience. The earlier you put all of it together, the better communication becomes. After you have drafted your speech, read it, and note where each of the skills you have learnt comes into play to better convey your message.

Do you find this post helpful? Would you like to develop your communicative skills? Send us a message today at hello@akinteachesenglish.com to connect with any of our online teachers.

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