Guide: How To Become an Effective Communicator
Updated 21 July 2022
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Good communication is crucial to the success of any business organisation. In any workplace, employees rarely function in isolation and need to communicate constantly through written or verbal means. Some job roles may require effective communicators more than others, but there is no job role that does not benefit from effective communication. In this article, we will explain how to become an effective communicator, the qualities of effective communicators and some tips to improve your communication.
What are the qualities of a good communicator?
An effective communicator is someone who conveys their message thoroughly and is receptive and responsive to others' input. Those who are strong communicators speak in a clear, direct manner, using easily understood language. They are typically assertive with their feelings and viewpoints, but they are also open to suggestions from others. Effective communicators:
Contribute actively to their workplace: effective communicators are central to a business's operations. These professionals know the company's objectives and are adept at communicating with their colleagues. They also know how to listen to others and take direction as needed.
Are trusted by others: since effective communicators speak honestly and listen closely, they are typically among the first individuals' others go to for advice. It can be easier to speak to someone openly when you know your input matters.
Express themselves freely: individuals with effective communication skills understand the importance of being direct with their opinions or ideas. During important projects at work, for instance, an effective communicator may say when they think their team has a solid plan or if something needs to be adjusted. However, they make sure to remain assertive and respectful if they disagree with others.
Have their own style of communication: part of being an effective communicator is having your input be memorable. For example, when your communications are unique, others may be more likely to remember your ideas when they need another perspective. Your style of communication can include the inflections in your speech, your body posture, including humour or personal stories or others.
Can make complex topics simple: when communicating complex ideas, effective communicators know how to break down information in a way that most people can understand. A literature professor, for example, may need to explain a poem for a class of students who do not regularly read poetry. A marketing manager may use effective communication to explain search engine optimization to stakeholders who aren't familiar with driving web traffic.
Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples
How to become an effective communicator
Being an effective communicator requires some amount of practice and dedication. You can develop your communication skills by following these steps:
1. Identify your purpose
Before communication starts, take some time to evaluate and understand the purpose or the intent of communication in detail. Understanding the purpose helps you plan your strategy for communication beforehand. Your communication may be general, instructive, informative or persuasive, depending on what the purpose demands. For example, for informative discussions, you may consider using facts and statistics to improve your credibility. If your intent is to persuade an audience, you may consider using an emotional note to appeal to the sentiments of your audience.
2. Identify your audience
Assess the age group and professional status of your audience and evaluate the nature of the interaction, to communicate in a way that is appealing. For example, if you are a customer support representative, you may use technical phrasing and abbreviations while talking to technicians and engineers. While you talk to customers, you must present the same information using terms that they can understand easily.
3. Evolve strategies for communicating
To communicate effectively, consider evolving a strategy prior to the act and practise its execution. You can also speculate audience inputs (like questions and objections) and prepare responses in advance. For example, if you are giving a farewell speech for a colleague, you may start with a personal anecdote, follow it up with a brief overview of your experiences working with them, expand into their accomplishments and conclude by wishing them success in future endeavours. During your speech, it is possible that other people might want to share their experiences working with them. Prepare appropriate questions to engage the crowd and get them talking about the subject in hand.
4. Maintain clarity throughout
Before speaking to an audience, identify an appropriate tone for the communication. For example, if a manager has to praise an employee for the success of a particular endeavour, they may adopt a casual tone and say, “Well done. You have never failed to amaze me with your performance.”. However, if a manager has to reprimand an employee for the poor quality of their work, they may choose to speak more formally. For verbal communication, set your volume to a level that is perfectly audible to all members of your audience. Refrain from changing the pace of your speech abruptly, to further improve clarity.
5. Be approachable
Effective communicators are approachable, and they actively encourage more communication from their audience. Enable others to participate in conversations and give inputs comfortably. Ask questions to understand the other person's opinions and positions clearly. When people feel that their inputs are acknowledged and appreciated, they feel more confident in contributing to conversations, and this keeps the communication engaging.
Related: How To Improve Communication Skills
10 tips to help you make your communication more effective
Here are 10 tips to help you communicate more effectively:
1. Listen actively
While communicating, let the listener know that you are interested in what they have to say. Try maintaining an active posture, avoid fidgeting and maintain eye contact while listening to others. To communicate interest, you can also urge them to expand upon what they are saying or go into further detail.
Read more: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples
2. Use appropriate body language
Maintaining an upright posture can communicate that you are an active part of the conversation. You may use gestures and hand movements while talking, but take care they do not distract the audience. Look at the faces of people when you address them. For large groups, ensure that you scan sections of the audience periodically, while talking.
Related: The Ultimate Guide To Nonverbal Communication Skills
3. Avoid rushed or slow pacing
When you talk in a rushed manner, listeners may lose focus on individual words or phrases. Your audience may struggle to process the information you are conveying. Similarly, when you talk very slowly, it becomes difficult to keep the conversation engaging. Maintain a good, steady pace during conversations to ensure that listeners can follow you with ease.
4. Avoid being too emotional
It is easy to become emotional when you talk about things you are passionate about. However, to maintain credibility, try to keep the content objective and useful. Refrain from getting angry or disappointed during professional communications.
5. Be aware of digressions
When you communicate, respect the attention and time that your listeners are giving you. Try to be aware of any digressions you may make and promptly return to the main points of discussion. This is to ensure that your audience does not lose track of the crux of the message.
6. Be consistent
While communicating, you generally want to be consistent. Avoid contradicting yourself at various points during the conversation. If a contradiction occurs, you can take the help of your audience to identify it and re-evaluate your position.
7. Give timely responses
Effective communicators can read a situation to know when to respond. It is important to let other conversation participants convey all of their thoughts before you offer yours. This can show the other party that you are considering their ideas and preparing an appropriate response.
8. Be open to suggestions and requests
Although some amount of assertiveness is required for effective communication, be open to suggestions and requests from the audience. This allows them to participate in the conversation more comfortably. Try to understand the shortcomings of your communication style and improve upon them in the future.
9. Use appropriate language
The language you use determines how your audience perceives you. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your communication simple, so that it can be understood by a wider audience. For professional communications, avoid using colloquialism and slang.
10. Consider asking follow-up questions to ensure that you are understood properly
After you cover a segment or section in your conversation, ask questions to the audience to ensure that they have understood the message you are trying to convey. Encourage them to ask questions if they have queries about things that were discussed.
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