If there were one skill that you would like to master, what would it be? Putting aside pipe dreams, like becoming a world-renowned musician or athlete, I think most of us would like to enhance our communication skills. While it’s not as thrilling as having thousands of fans cheer you on, it’s critical if you want to succeed in your career and life.

It may not be on the top of your mind. But, there are several reasons why year after year, employers cite communication skills as their most sought-after employability skills. These include;

  • Effective communication strengthens relationships and builds trust.
  • It helps prevents conflicts and resolve problems.
  • Allows you to deliver clear objections and expectations.
  • Increases engagement and workplace satisfaction.
  • Contributes to increased productivity.

Moreover, communicating well helps us better understand ourselves, as well as others. That may seem trivial. However, communicating your self-concept assists you in everything from expressing your wants and needs to build your brand. And, understanding others helps you become more empathetic.

Does this mean that you have to be a charismatic orator like Socrates, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., or Barack Obama? Of course not. Rather, being a great communicator means that you understand your audience, get your message across, and influence others.

Best of all? Anyone can become a great communicator. As Brian Tracy says, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”

1. Build the Relationship First

Sure. This doesn’t apply to every situation. You can’t possibly build a relationship with everyone attending a massive industry event. However, sometimes it’s just as simple as asking them how their day is going.

In your daily life, this is more feasible. For example, if you’re in a leadership position, you could greet your team as they enter the workplace first thing in the morning. You could also have a standing meeting to ask how everyone is doing. And prioritize time with each employee.

In your personal life, you could have breakfast or dinner with your family. You could have an ongoing group text with your friends gripping over your favorite sports team. Or, you could meet new people with similar interests through platforms like Meetup.

2. Listen More Than You Speak

Make no mistake about this. Listening is a critical skill of all great communicators. As a result, this prevents them from dominating a discussion or a presentation. What’s more, they are frequently asking questions and giving others the chance to voice their thoughts.

Why’s that important? It makes others feel understood and cared about. It also helps you gain knowledge. And, when it’s time for you to speak up, they will listen to what you’re saying.

Overall, being a great communicator is a balancing act between listening and speaking.

3. Connect Emotionally

“People will forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

“As a leader, your communication is impotent if people don’t connect with it on an emotional level,” says Dr. Travis Bradberry. “This is hard for many leaders to pull off because they feel they need to project a certain persona. Let that go.”

“To connect with your people emotionally, you need to be transparent,” he adds. “Be human. Show them what drives you, what you care about, what makes you get out of bed in the morning. Express these feelings openly, and you’ll forge an emotional connection with your people.”

4. Pay Attention To Build Langauge

Not all communication is verbal—case in point, body language.

Let’s say that you’re talking to a colleague and they’re rapidly blinking or have their arms crossed. This could mean that they’re uncomfortable and closed-off. If you know this, you can help put that at ease. For example, research has found that facial expressions with a slight smile and rise of the eyebrows convey confidence and friendliness.

5. Observe and Practice

When you have some downtime, study how others deliver presentations. Personally, I think that watching TED Talks are an excellent source if you want to see how to deliver a top-notch speech.

Also, remember the adage practice makes perfect. It could be something as simple as jotting down some questions you want to ask a friend or colleague to record yourself. Years ago, I had a friend film me during a speech. I hated watching it, but it let me know that I had to raise my voice and work on removing “um.”

6. Pace Yourself and Be Clear

“Pay attention to how quickly you’re speaking and whether your audience appears to be processing what you’re saying,” suggests the educators at Walden University. “Slow down if necessary, and vary the volume and rhythm of your speech to hold their attention. It’s important to deliberately repeat important points a few times to make sure your listeners hear what you have to say.”

At the same time, they also advise that you reduce the amount of time spent on setting up your idea of request. “Communicate your needs and desires clearly. You’ll not only avoid misunderstandings,” but you’ll also “earn respect through your honesty and clarity and have a greater chance of accomplishing your goal.”

7. Use Action Verbs

As a refresher, verbs expressing actions, either physical or mental, are called action verbs. Usually, action verbs are used to explain the subject’s actions.

Why’s this important? The use of action verbs delivers a bigger impact when delivering information to others. The reason is that action verbs create a clear understanding of what’s happening and can paint a vivid picture of what you’re saying.

MIT has a handy list of action verbs you can refer to when composing everything from your resume to meeting presentation.

8. Desclaute Arguments

At some point, you will butt heads with someone else. It’s inevitable, just like Thanos. However, when you’re an all-star at communicating, these arguments won’t become a relationship-ender. Instead, the disagreement can be healthy and productive.

Of course, this is easier said than done. So, try to keep the following pointers in mind;

  • Consider your body language and voice when communicating your message. It should be calm and reasonable.
  • Listen actively and ask questions.
  • Don’t have a “win” mindset.
  • Find common ground.
  • Don’t let frustrations bottle up.

9. Pick the Right Framing Device

To keep your audience engaged, it’s important to think about framing your conversation, speech, or meeting presentation.

To start, choose a hook to draw them in. You can figure this out by asking questions like, “Why is this story interesting?” or “Why should others care about it?”

After that, focus on the framing device. If you need to explain a theory or how to improve a process, make sure that you clearly define your objective and where you want the journey to go so that you’re not wasting their time.

10. Keep Investing in Yourself

Finally, even if you’ve done all of the above, becoming a skilled communicator isn’t a one-and-done event. You need to keep plugging away. And, that means putting in the time and effort.

For example, you could sign-up for a public speaking class. You could also join an organization like Toastmasters. Other strategies would be reading classics like How to Win Friends & Influence People or writing daily in a journal.

Image credit: helena lopes; pexels; thank you!