Having great communication skills is crucial in life, not just for personal reasons but also for professional use. In fact, a lot of industries at present already include communication skills as a prerequisite before hiring an employee.
If you’re eyeing a career in the communications industry, the need to practice excellent communication prowess in all avenues (both written and oral) is necessary. Professional translators and interpreters, for instance, are required to exercise superior skills in communication to ensure the message they deliver is accurate and complete.
For those who want to work in this field, nurturing your skills as early as possible can help prepare you for bigger challenges once you are in the industry. Check out the following 12 ways you can improve your communication skills here.
1. Listen well and avoid interrupting
Many of us are so used to expressing our views that we tend to disregard what other people are saying. If you want to become a better communicator, the first step must be to learn how to become an active listener. This entails (unsurprisingly) more listening and less talking.
Doing this will help you understand the message better, instead of automatically forming your own speech before you’ve heard the full context. By understanding the whole message, you’ll also get to provide a better-quality response when it’s your time to speak.
2. Practice paraphrasing
This is an effective method to make sure you get all the details right and to help expand your vocabulary. If you’re in doubt about something, try to paraphrase it in your own words to see if it makes sense to you.
3. Be Mindful of minor details in the content
What may seem like a minor detail could make all the difference if you only take time to understand what role it plays. This method is applicable when you are listening to someone else speak, as well as interpreting a text. Make sure that you are mindful of every detail always. It’s often the little nuances that help you stand out.
4. Note the quality of your voice, tone and pitch
When you are speaking, it’s important that you use an audible voice and just the right tone and pitch. The wrong intonation could potentially affect the emotion your message is trying to deliver. Also, listeners have a tendency to judge the message based on how they hear it. The better voicing you use, the more advantageous it is for establishing a connection with your listener.
5. Always use accurate words to express context
Accuracy is a must in any mode of communication, whether it’s written or spoken. Every time you are asked to deliver a message, make sure you have first understood and outlined the points you want to share. Accuracy prevents misunderstanding and helps make sure you send the right message to your audience.
6. Practice completeness and clarity in message delivery
This works hand in hand with accuracy. You can’t just give your listener half-baked information that leaves them hanging. Even if there are still details to follow, always make sure you deliver all the necessary information that is available. Needless to say, the use of clear and understandable words is important to ensure no one misunderstands.
7. Learn to spot the most important part of the message
Whether it’s an inspirational message or a business report, paying attention to the most important part of the message can make a difference. Speakers have their own ways of delivering information and some may use lots of side examples to emphasize a point – examples which may not necessarily be needed in your own note-taking or recording efforts.
As a listener, it is your task to pick out the most relevant details fit for your needs. The better you get at spotting these important details, the more effective your speech will be, and ultimately your speaking skills.
8. Use the right speed or pacing when you talk
Effective communicators neither speak too fast or too slow. They know how to pause for emphasis, when to increase the pace and when to deliberately slow down. Speed can affect the listening experience of your audience. If you want them to get your message well, you’d better make sure you are speaking at the right pace.
9. Practice appropriate gestures
This includes building eye contact with the person or people you are talking to, as well as the hand gestures that accompany your speech. Just make sure not to overuse it, or it will defeat the purpose of emphasizing your point. You might make members of the audience feel uncomfortable in the process as well.
10. Ask questions
There is no harm in asking questions. In fact, this is highly encouraged, especially if there are points you fail to understand. To get the full context of a message, everything must come with clarity. Any vague details can be misinterpreted. If you are unsure of something you’ve heard, don’t hesitate to ask.
11. Avoid beating around the bush. Get to the point.
It may sound nice to add lots of colors and flowers on your words, but unless you’re delivering a creative speech, it’s always best to stop running in circles and get straight to the point. Unnecessary words, descriptions, hyperboles and metaphors won’t do much to help your listeners understand your whole message.
12. Have a full grasp of who you are talking to
Last but not least, be clear on who you are talking to. The profile of your audience can affect the tone and approach you have to make to establish better connection when speaking. For instance, talking to a group of medical professionals would sound different when you’re in front of creative writing students.
Before going through your speech, take some time to evaluate your audience. This will help you get your speech right and create a strong momentum that will hold your listeners’ attention.
Communicating with other people requires skill and confidence, things which you can acquire through practice. Sharpen your skills as early as you can and land your dream career!
Raphael Rico Zamora is a Filipino blogger working in a translation services Philippines, a professional translation and interpretation company located in the business district of Makati City, Philippines.