5 Effective Way to Improve Verbal Communication

A group of four colleagues communicating

By: Megan Jones

Communication, is one of the most important skills to master. From written, mediated, to verbal communication, having your recipient(s) clearly understand your message is vital. As working individuals, we communicate almost every second of every day. From nonverbal body language, to facial expressions, written emails, to casual conversation by the water cooler we are constantly sending communicative messages. Today I want to focus on verbal communication and 5 effective ways to improve verbal communication.

Why is Verbal Communication so Important?

Verbal communication is important for a myriad of reasons. The most important may be to be able to clearly communicate your message and, for your recipient to be able to understand what your intended message was. Perhaps, one of the biggest causes of mistakes and confusion may be when the communicator intended a message to mean one thing and the receiver perceived it differently. Therefore, being able to have your intended message be received correctly is imperative. Let’s learn 5 effective ways to increase your verbal communication.

Understand Your Audience

In my opinion this is the most important thing to consider when deciding how you want to deliver your message. Understanding your audience and any communication barriers between you and your audience will help you navigate the best way to deliver your message.

For example, your workplace jargon and acronyms may be well received with a seasoned team member, however, it may confuse and mislead a new hire or colleague from a different department.

Additionally, if you are giving a presentation consider your audience. Is your audience as well versed in this information as you and your department? If not, consider adding additional background information to give your audience context so the information can be built upon and your audience can gain an understanding.

Actively Listen

If you are receiving information, ensure you are actively listening. When I first heard this term, I thought if I was listening, I was actively listening however, this isn’t always the case. If you are actively listening, you are entirely focused on the information being brought to you. You are not letting your mind trail off to a different thought or listening for the sole purpose of responding. If you are actively listening, you are engaging in the information and may have clarifying questions. When you are receiving information, try to silence any distractions and focus on the information at hand.

Think Before Speaking

In some conversations there may be a lull where there is silence. Do not let the silence intimidate you. You do not have to rapidly give your feedback or thoughts if you don’t have an immediate answer (this is true for interviews as well!). Take the time to collect your thoughts and decide how you want to deliver your feedback or response. If you are apprehensive about the silence, you can speak up and say that you are “processing or collecting your thoughts”.

Be Mindful of your Tone

The way you speak and how you deliver it matters. Moreover, people will remember how you spoke to them and it can affect your reputation. It can be difficult, especially if you have back-to-back meetings or if you received frustrating news. If this happens, take a moment to take a breath and try and let go of that information and focus on the next information you will be communicating on. Remember to be conscientious on your tone and how you intend to deliver a message.

Speak with Confidence

This is another tip that can be easier said than done. My best advice is fake it until you make it. If you are someone that gets a little nervous for public speaking use that nervous energy! If you have that energy, it is great to talk with your hands or walk around the front of the room when appropriate. It can help release that nervous energy and, in most situations, it can be perceived as confidence. Additionally, look at your audience. If that makes you nervous, you can start by looking at someone in the audience that you are familiar with, and then as you continue speaking, scan the room. Likewise, looking someone in the eye can be perceived as confidence. Do your best and you can do it!

We hope these tips help you and help improve your verbal communication!

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