In the workplace, it’s helpful to have strong communication skills so you can deliver information accurately and confidently. Many employers want to hire and promote employees who can communicate effectively with others to improve productivity and efficiency. Continually developing your communication skills can help you progress in your career and develop positive, open dialogue with your supervisors and peers.
In this article, we describe how to be a good communicator and offer helpful tips you can use to improve your communication skills in the workplace
1. Know your message and audience
When creating an oral or written message, consider the message you want to convey and the audience you’re addressing. It’s important to identify the main purpose of the communication so you can ensure your content aligns with your goals. Your purpose of communicating may be to:
- Provide entertainment
Make sure your topics are relevant and meaningful to your audience. Use vocabulary and terminology they can easily understand. For example, if you’re an IT professional speaking with a sales team about a new program, use straightforward language to explain the software’s features.
2. Listen actively
While having a conversation, listen intently to the person speaking so you can understand what they’re saying. Concentrate on their message and avoid thinking of your response while they’re speaking. By listening to others, you can acknowledge their message and respond appropriately.
When you’re actively listening, it can be helpful to paraphrase what you think the other person said and repeat it back to them before responding. For example, you could say, “You’re asking for two weeks to finish the report, is that correct?” Using this type of feedback loop ensures you understand the person’s message and helps avoid misunderstandings.
3. Ask questions
If you don’t understand a statement or argument, ask questions. Having all the correct information is key in formulating responses and creating a productive dialogue. If you can’t ask questions right away, like in a presentation, write your questions down and ask them later.
4. Pay attention to body language
when you’re communicating with people. Look for signs that they’re engaged with the material, such as eye contact or nodding. Signs that someone has become distracted or doesn’t understand the message include crossing their arms or checking their phone. If someone isn’t engaged, consider shifting your approach, asking questions or taking a break. You can also convey your own interest in the interaction by making eye contact, appearing relaxed and using facial gestures.
5. Be clear and concise
When you’re speaking to others, be clear and concise to help people follow your message and relate to your content. Make your point using a straightforward approach, opting for the fewest words. Eliminate unnecessary filler and choose simple phrasing. It’s helpful to avoid using cliches and business jargon, which can become distracting for certain audiences. Consider using vocabulary and phrasing that reaches the widest spectrum of readers or listeners.
6. Pause before responding
If you’re struggling to communicate an idea effectively, take a brief pause to collect your thoughts. Taking a pause can help you organize what you want to say before responding. It’s a helpful tactic in emotionally charged conversations because it can help you avoid misunderstandings.
You may consider taking even longer to form your response if you require more information or context. You can say, “I don’t have that answer right now, but I plan to look into it and get back to you.” People appreciate your honesty and effort to find the correct information
7. Frame your message
Find ways to present your material to engage with readers or listeners. Look for ways to frame what you’re saying or writing that may make the audience feel like the content matters to them. For example, if your company is implementing a new appointment scheduling software, you can frame this announcement by explaining how the software can solve employees’ current scheduling challenges. This message helps gain your audience’s attention and gives them reasons to care about the information.
8. Be prepared
Before an important conversation or presentation, research and understand the topic or agenda. Take notes or prepare an outline to help guide your dialogue. Practice speaking out loud and record yourself so you can identify areas for improvement.
If you’re presenting information to an audience, it’s also helpful to anticipate follow-up questions so you can prepare your answers. This type of preparation helps you show your knowledge of the subject. Your audience may pay attention to your message because they consider you to be a trustworthy source of accurate information.
9. Practice communicating
When you’re striving to become a good communicator, it’s important to practice so you can become more comfortable with this skill. Search online for communication courses you can take to learn helpful tips or strategies. You may also consider taking a public speaking course or volunteering to speak at civic organizations, schools or churches.
If you use written communication at work, perform writing exercises to help you develop your skills. It may be helpful to sign up for a creative writing course at a community college or library to enhance your writing skills. Instructors can provide helpful feedback and direction you can use in your professional writing.