Being a great communicator can improve your personal and work relationships and open doors for new opportunities. Great communicators take the time to listen to their audience instead of waiting for any chance to speak up. They know what they’re talking about and are considered the go-to person for advice, both at home and in the office. They ask questions and engage with the people they have conversations with, and they focus on what others are saying. They are also able to achieve their goals because they are aware of misunderstandings and how to quickly resolve any issues.
“Truly great communicators are always first – great storytellers,” says Tim Cole, author of “The Compass Solution – A Guide to Winning Your Career.”
To be an excellent communicator you have to watch your audience, listen to your audience, and gauge your audience, and Cole has created a simple guide with these three secrets to help you distinguish yourself.
WATCH YOUR AUDIENCE
“You grab an audience in the first 60 seconds, or you lose them forever. One minute to clutch their hearts and to hold their minds,” says Cole.
The hook is everything, and you should pay attention to your audience’s attention and focus. Do they seem distracted? Are they looking for an excuse to leave the room at any chance they get? If you’re giving a presentation, don’t bore someone with a lengthy PowerPoint presentation that has so many words and graphics on the screen that it’s difficult for anyone to understand. Keep it concise and straightforward. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and any barriers that may separate you from your audience.
Do your research before you give that big presentation, so you know who will be there and what type of message you should prepare.
LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE
Just because you like to talk, doesn’t mean you’re an excellent communicator. Even though you might be extremely passionate about the topic you are discussing, the message might not be getting through because you’re not taking the time to listen to your audience.
“Great communicators must stifle the impulse to speak – they must pause to listen. The world-class practitioners are made great not because of their ability to impress their audience with words – they’re made great because of their willingness to comprehend the words of others,” says Cole.
If you’re the type of person, who can’t wait to get a word in during every conversation you have, take the time to stop for a minute and soak in what the other person is saying. If you aren’t listening, you run the chance of having your message misunderstood. Don’t interrupt someone just to get your point across, and take the time to ask for clarification if you have a question.
GAUGE YOUR AUDIENCE
We all want to hear a great story, to be engaged and entertained. The best communicators make the audience a part of the story whether you are talking to one person or an entire room filled with people. “We see this often in the entertainment industry – the singing star that makes the audience a part of the show – or the late-night talk show host whose primary guest really is the studio or television observers,” Cole says.
Although you might not be able to implement these guidelines overnight, you can do it over time. Before a big speech, practice, practice, practice, and ask for constructive feedback from friends or coworkers. By improving your communication skills, you’ll be able to develop your relationships and better understand the mission and goals of the company you work for.
“Constantly assess for impact – and the one true measure that must be considered is your audience. Any assessment of skills must ultimately be balanced against the reality of your listeners – the ultimate judge of a great communicator,” says Cole.