As I continue to look at communication skills and cover various areas of it, speaking is definitely an important one.  I am certainly not a skilled public speaker or presenter and while that is a common skill for communication, this article is about controlling your speaking for every day communication and not focused on large group public speaking.  I’ll leave that to the experts.

Speak at the Right Pace

It is important to speak at a controlled case so that your audience can easily understand you.  Speaking to quickly makes you sound uneasy, nervous, or even unsure of yourself.  Speaking too slowly will make you seem unconfident, or simply not convincing.  You want to ensure you can get your point across clearly without your audience having to struggle to understand you.

It is very useful to record your self or practice speaking at the right pace with a friend listening so that you can tell and listen to your own pace.  I can see it’s like

Breathe

Your breathing rate can relate to your speaking rate, but more importantly, you should have a calm tone, consistent rate and a normal comfortable breathing pattern.  It’s OK to pause your speech in order to take a breath and get your thoughts in order.  Silence is a powerful message when communicating, it allows the other person time to think and reflect on what you said.  Saying "Um" or "ah" frequently when you speak can be distracting and never helps you get your message across.  So, remember that silence is OK and remember to breathe.

Engage Your Audience

My third tip to improve your communication is to always look for ways to engage the audience, whether it is one person or a group.  Some of the ways you can do this are:

  • asking them questions
  • surveying with hands up or signaling them to respond
  • lead them to finish your sentences
  • have them repeat what you have said
  • read something out loud with them

There are many ways you can actively engage your audience and an active audience is always more attentive.  Use this to make your audience more engaged with the conversation which allows you to better communicate with them.

Use Gestures and Movement

Speaking of keeping your audience’s attention, gestures are a great way to do this.  Not only your hand gestures as you speak but your entire body’s animation and movement.  You may not be in front of a large audience or you might just be sitting behind a meeting table at work.  It doesn’t matter where, adding some natural movement and gestures to your message livens it up and makes what you have to say easier to remember and engage with for others.  Presentations really require special attention here as some additional movement is critical when displaying pre-developed content as it doesn’t have a whole lot of movement and expression.

Facial expressions I lump here into gestures as well as your expression with your mouth and eyes are key to showing interest, noteworthy points and your own engagement in a conversation.

Get to The Point

While I know that I personally have a severe lack of patience and appreciate knowing what someone is talking about, I still do appreciate a good story behind a point that someone is trying to make.  Its important to not lead on your audience too long before making your point and it is often best to simply state it first and then explain any reasoning or findings that brought you to that particular message.  Whether someone is patience or not, you don’t want to loose the attention of your audience before you’ve made your point as its nearly impossible to get it back once lost.

Staying on point also means keeping your message simple.  Stay on one topic and don’t jump around your main points attempting to cover too much material.

Don’t Use the Word But

There are a number of words that are never helpful in communication and "but" is one of them that is in the top 10 list and a personal pet peeve of mine.  That word is used to essentially negate everything before it so knowing that, you might as well not have said anything before it and left the "but" out altogether.  A terrible mistake in communicating with others and unfortunately a habit of many people when debating a subject is to agree with someone’s point and then negate that using the word "but" and stating their own opinion to replace the original idea.  Don’t do that, it does nothing but harm when communicating with others.  This is a really tough one to control and something worth paying attention to if you have a habit of using this word.  Work to simply eliminate using it by just forming two separate sentences instead.  Or you can use the word "and" instead of "but" which show agreement plus your own point of view instead of something to replace it.

This is a subtle element of improving your communication with speak and it is also a very important one!

Speak With Passion

I’ve saved the best for last here, at least as far as I’m concerned.  Speaking with passion is not easy and the scary part is that a lot of people aren’t passionate about anything to even know what that might mean.  What it means to me is that you speak with an enthusiasm and conviction towards the subject that an audience can see that what you have to say is absolutely true and dear to you, that you believe in what you say and that you want to successful communicate.  Speaking with passion will be visible in difference ways for each person and is often seen by:

  • high amounts of movement and expression
  • massive pitch and volume swings
  • vivid details and imaginative descriptions of the subject matter
  • visible or audible emotion
  • total engagement with all parties completely unaware of distractions

There are much more detail to get into on each of these communication topics and I’d love to hear from you on techniques you use or find useful or what other areas of communication you have the most interest in learning more about?



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