Let’s explore the three steps you can take to improve your oral communication in any situation.
The first step toward excellent communication is to prepare what you want to say. Whether you’ll be explaining a new policy to a group at work, training a colleague, or meeting with your boss to ask for a raise, you want to think about the main points you’re trying to make—and how you want to make them—before you begin. The Six W’s will help you identify those main points (who, what, where, when, why, how).
Although much of your spoken communication will occur spontaneously, there are some situations, such as work presentations and interviews, when you should rehearse.
- Consider whether your communication requires more than simple preparation (a demonstration, for example).
- Given your audience and limitations, choose what aspects of the communication you might need to practice; a good guideline is to practice anything you don’t feel totally comfortable doing on the spot.
- Expect to spend far more time practicing than actually presenting.
3. Seek Feedback and Reflect
Practicing good oral communication is an ongoing process. The good news is that every time you speak (whether in a group or one on one), you can use those experiences to improve the way you communicate in the future. To do that, you must learn how to seek feedback and reflect on what you’ve learned. You can do this either as you’re speaking or after you’ve spoken.
Following the steps for speaking up will help you create and impart a strong message. But don’t stop there—here are a few tips to keep in mind when speaking to others.
Insert graphic of Steps for Speaking Up
Let’s put the pieces together. Imagine you have a brilliant idea at your job. Maybe you have a thought around building community at your workplace or restructuring your space to allow for better collaboration. How do you get people on board with your ideas? This takes a lot of the 10 skills to do successfully; innovation to listen and learn from diverse perspectives, problem solving to devise a plan of action and ultimately communication – how are you going to deliver your idea to someone who can help you make it happen?
- Explain how your idea would solve a problem
- What’s your story? Why is this important to you?
- Have a clear and specific focus (not too broad and overwhelming)
- Casually pitch your idea to colleagues, how do they react?
- Don’t get frustrated
- Suggest a trial run, a pilot
Check out these Quick Tips to Make Yourself Heard. You’ll discover an easy list you can use to speak up professionally in the workplace.Print it out. Hang it over your desk. Save it on your phone. It’s a handy guide you can use any time you’re communicating professionally.