18 Effective Strategies to Improve Communication Skills


18 Effective Strategies to Improve Communication Skills

This article will explain the below:

• 5 types of communication that should be developed

• What is effective communication?

• How to improve your communication skills

• How to improve your online communication:

• 5 additional tips to improve your communication skills

• How to become a more active listener.

• Tips for keeping your audience interested during your speech.

• Final thoughts on effective communication strategies.


Communication skills are one of the most utilized and sought-after skills in the workplace. These are essential for developing leaders and individual contributors. In a largely remote, hybrid work environment, good communication skills can make the difference between teams that are connected and flexible and those that fail to collaborate, stay aligned, and achieve common goals. Fortunately, improving your communication skills is easier than you think. Here are some basic principles you can follow to become a better communicator.


5 types of communication to develop

You and your team members may be working remotely for some time. Whether you're in the office every day, managing remotely from home, or in a hybrid workplace, you probably use multiple types of communication. Developing communication skills for each type is important for the long-term success of your business.

Here are five of the most common types of communication you should focus on improving:

• Oral Communication: Thoughts are communicated through speech. Examples include presentations, one-on-one meetings, virtual calls, etc.

• Written Communication: Thoughts and ideas are conveyed in writing. This could be an email, a handwritten note, a sign, etc.

• Nonverbal Communication: Information is conveyed without the use of written or spoken words. Examples include facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, gestures, etc. 

• Active Listening: Unlike the example above, active listening involves receiving information. Active listeners can ask questions to better understand the information, but avoid being so focused on the response that they lose track of the speaker.

• Situated Communication: Information is conveyed through mutual and sometimes tacit understanding of various factors such as interpersonal relationships and the environment.


What is Effective Communication?

The most effective communicators communicate clearly while actively listening. They are able to accept both verbal and non-verbal information and at the same time express their thoughts and opinions in a comprehensive manner.

Regardless of your communication style, effective communication involves connecting with other people. Sometimes I'm dancing with a partner who doesn't move the way I want. This means that the most powerful skill you can use is being in tune with your audience. This includes understanding and discussing customer needs and responding to feedback in real time. This means having the conversation your audience wants. However, doing all this requires some practice.

Below are effective communication strategies to help you listen and communicate better.


How to Improve your Communication Skills

The best messages are often simple. There is no point in sending any type of communication, whether written, oral, formal or informal, if the message is not conveyed clearly. Keeping things interesting and concise communication that includes everything your team needs to know is an advanced communication skill.

Here are some ways to communicate better:

1. Don't forget your audience

When you tailor your message to your audience's interests, they'll naturally be interested and engaged. If you spark their interest by talking directly about things that are important to them, they will naturally want to understand and interact with the information.


2. Don’t use 10 words when one will do

Even the most interested and engaged audience will get bored sooner or later. Keeping your message simple and concise makes it easier to understand and remember. You already know what you're going to say, but remember that the other person is hearing it for the first time. Make it simpler.


3. Think about the best way to get your message across

If the information you're communicating isn't urgent, consider sending an email or note. This is especially important when communicating expectations. A written message gives your audience more time to review it, think about it, and ask questions. This also provides a convenient file for reference.


4. Get them involved

If you've ever worked as an instructor, manager, trainer, or coach, you know that there are few better ways to learn new information than by teaching it. Provide feedback or help explain new concepts or policies to colleagues.


5. Use personal communication whenever possible

Face-to-face communication, whether between two people or 200 people, adds a layer of information to the exchange. Face-to-face interactions often create synergies that are difficult to replicate elsewhere. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time with your team.


6. Contact lens

If you're wondering whether your message is getting through to your audience, few metrics will give you more feedback than eye contact. It's easy to tell if someone understands you, if they're distracted, anxious, or confused, but much of that is lost in digital communication.


7. Ask for feedback

I don't know if they got it? listen! An effective technique is to have them repeat their version of what you just said. This increases retention, ensures immediate uptake, and minimizes misunderstandings later on. You can also learn how to improve your performance in presentations and other forms of communication.


8. Read nonverbal cues

There are many different types of nonverbal cues. Yawning, fidgeting, and looking around the room are usually telltale signs that your audience is thinking about something other than what you're trying to convey. If you notice this, don't take it personally. Ask them to share their thoughts, repeat points they may have missed, or save the discussion for later.


9. Minimize distractions

If you're communicating face-to-face with someone (or a group), leave unnecessary electronic devices in the room to avoid distractions. Limit participation to only those who need to attend, and avoid scheduling it during times when people might be focused on other things (for example, towards the end of the day or just before lunch).


How to Improve your Online Communication

Online communication is rapidly replacing offices as the primary place of business. Especially if you're used to working in-person in teams, you may find it difficult to get used to meetings, conversations, and even people collaborating and reporting digitally.

Because online communication is a unique way of interacting, you should keep the following in mind:

1. Strictly adhere to time limits

Online meetings can make it even more difficult to concentrate due to the virtually unlimited number of distractions. Keep meetings short and to the point, and be especially careful to minimize (sometimes) lengthy questions and answers. Use asynchronous communication methods when necessary to protect everyone's time.


2. Be considerate of others

Usually, only the speaker can give full attention to the meeting. Expect your participants to have multiple attention needs, especially while working from home, and structure your content accordingly.


3. Repeat important details

Many nonverbal and interpersonal cues can be lost in digital connections. Repeat important points to ensure understanding. Give a quick overview during an online meeting or at the end of a long email.


4. Don’t forget to respond

Always respond to all messages immediately, even if they are informal. Even if you receive the message, the other person may have no way of knowing unless you tell them. Usually all it takes is a few words or likes.


5 Tips to Improve your Communication Skills

Overall, if you want to improve your communication skills, no matter what situation you're in (or what audience you're dealing with), the following tips will help you succeed.

1. Be approachable: If your teammates are afraid or worried that you'll react badly, they're less likely to provide information.

2. Be patient: Not everyone communicates in the same way. It helps to take the time to understand the other person and communicate clearly.

3. Be self-aware: It's okay if you're developing your communication skills, feeling nervous, or having a bad day. Becoming an effective communicator takes time and practice.

4. Check your understanding: Please feel free to send us your feedback or questions to make sure we're all on the same page.

5. Turn off Messenger: Help other team members and leaders improve their communication skills by giving them opportunities to lead discussions and meetings.


How to Become a More Active Listener

We often talk about the power of active listening, but many people don't understand how this translates into action. One of the main problems with active listening is that it distracts you from responding. Many people are busy coming up with the perfect answer, leaving little room for contribution.

To break this habit, which doesn't really benefit the speaker, consider the following steps.


• Rethink how you add value

You may think that whether or not the value of your trade goes up depends primarily on what you say. But others don't necessarily see it that way. Most of us appreciate answers that help us think through our ideas, clarify assumptions, and highlight potential blind spots. Often, we don't need to be great listeners or impress us with our qualifications. Rather, we can be grateful for how they have helped us refine our thinking.


• Paraphrase without judgment

If you're too busy replying, try changing the focus of your reply. Rather than trying to add your own thoughts, challenge yourself to write a summary that does not include your opinions or judgments. As you listen, try to summarize, perhaps clarifying the speaker's original language. Bonus points for repeating sticky words that the speaker recognizes as their own “So you were frustrated with the project because the timing wasn’t right?”.


• Ask questions to help the speaker think

Once you've finished paraphrasing, the next step is to ask a question that changes the topic. Similar to how a coach listens, these questions encourage the speaker to dig deeper, clarify their thoughts, and consider possible issues. You can play devil's advocate by pointing out inconsistencies and words you don't understand. These are all real speaker gifts that will help you concentrate on listening.


• Interrupt politely

Active listening does not mean mindless abandon, and not all interference is rude. In some cases, your speakers can get lost in the weeds, giving you sound detail you don't need. Interruptions help you stay relevant and get more engagement.

Most speakers are able to continue speaking without worrying about being interrupted by questions. It's much more difficult, especially for introverts, to interrupt someone during a meeting and end their time on the floor.

Please make sure:

• Thank the speaker (“Thank you for raising this issue.”).

• Use a warm and polite tone. Get feedback from others about how you speak and how you feel.

• Mention common interests (“I just wanted to make sure I heard from everyone about this project.”)


Tips to keep audiences engaged when you speak

•  Be relevant

We are so overwhelmed with information that many viewers are unimpressed by data. In fact, the desire to cover every problem or anticipate every possible problem is a common reason for redundancy.

To keep your listeners interested, especially during virtual meetings, you need to carefully curate relevant content. Ask yourself, what impact will this information have on my audience? How will this help their work? Does this level of detail help you understand your main message?

If you don't have clear answers to these questions, consider reducing your content. Concisely

A leader's hallmark is brevity, the ability to express ideas in as few words as possible. Listeners will appreciate this because it shows you respect your preparation and their time.

Additionally, brevity conveys confidence. That is, the confidence to do less, say something once, and believe that it's spot on.

Many speakers struggle with speaking concisely, especially in virtual meetings where feedback can be flat. They may repeat themselves "just to be sure" or use more examples to clarify their point of view. But this kind of "plus" is often diminished because the audience is distracted by getting it right the first time.

Simplicity is an act of faith. Trust that your own preparation and performance are clear. This belief becomes more difficult to maintain in virtual meetings when cameras are turned off. To value yourself as a speaker, you can ask your audience to be fully present and turn on their cameras, and reward them with a confident speech.


• Leave space for the public to fill in

One way he slows down and connects with his audience is by taking a break after making his point. Not just a moment to catch your breath, but a space of true silence. Whether virtual or in-person, leave room for your listeners to fill in the space and provide real-time feedback on what they need next.

How detailed do you want to know? Do they actually have the questions you want answered? Or will it take your ideas in a completely new direction? We often fear silence as if it means something is wrong. But it's all done in silence, so you might be surprised at what listeners come up with when given the chance to intervene. No matter how you fill the space, you'll gain valuable tips on how to move forward in sync. And communication becomes a dance.


• Treat resistance as an opportunity, not an obstacle

You may think that presenting a convincing argument will quickly gain support. Of course, that almost never happens. When your suggestions are questioned, you may become upset and even defensive, trying to explain why you are right. Lines are quickly drawn, double on both sides, and you end up at a dead end.

To avoid having your ideas blocked in this way, you may want to rethink how you encounter resistance. Most new ideas are not accepted the way they were first proposed, and the audience may not need ready-made answers to all questions. Try to think of your pitch as the opening salvo and your response as a guide to the necessary conversation. Instead of getting defensive, ask follow-up questions to confirm and investigate the issue.


Final Thoughts

As a leader and manager, you have great power to set the tone of communication within your team. It's easy to fall into bad communication habits, especially as we move towards increasingly digital interfaces, but changing the way one person communicates can open the door to fundamental change across the workplace. Developing effective communication skills takes time, but the results are valuable at all levels of the organization.


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