Most would agree that the ability to communicate well, is one of life’s most important skills.
Being able to get an idea across clearly, deliver an important message succinctly or quickly get to the point is often the key to success both personally and professionally.
Few of us are born 'good communicators', but like any skill, it is something that can be learned and improved upon over time. Here are four tips to help you communicate more clearly.
Think about your message
You know the saying think before you speak – well, it’s not a cliché for nothing. When you think about what you are going to say before you say it, you are making sure your point is relevant.
Not only will you come across clearer, cleaner and with purpose – applying critical thinking to your message or idea will help build a more informed response. Start by asking yourself “what is my point here?” this will sharpen your focus so you can get it across.
Need more time to think, restate a point previously made or use a linking phrase like “I think it’s important to remember…” to gather your thoughts.
Buzzwords and jargon
Words and phrases like ‘innovation’, ‘low-hanging fruit’, ‘moving forward’ and ‘core competency’ might sound like they’re meaningful, but often they’re meaningless. With each industry comes a new set of words and jargon that often doesn’t mean much to many.
Using jargon can be confusing to those outside of your profession who have no idea what those words mean and if you deal with clients in your line of work, it can complicate important points.
Do away with the corporate lingo and instead focus on keeping your message short, simple and digestible. One tip is to pretend you are speaking to someone in the checkout line at the grocery store – would they understand what you mean by ‘disruptive synergy’?
Cut the fat
If you’re putting together an essay or an important email, sometimes it can be easy to over-complicate the message, thought or idea you’re trying to get across with ‘padding’ words.
A great way to avoid this is to choose your language wisely, especially (as this PR Daily article demonstrates) when using verbs.
Instead of typing an email asking someone to ‘make a decision’ ask them to ‘decide’ and rather than ‘arriving at a conclusion’ you can simply ‘conclude’. Applying this type of thinking will simplify your work in no time – making it clear and more to the point.
Learn to listen
You’ve thought about your message, dropped the jargon and cut those extra words, now it’s time to listen. Listening is key for clear communication because it means that when you pass the information on, it doesn’t confuse, lack facts or seem out of context.
Active listening is the go to technique here. This means you are not only hearing what the other person is saying but you are attempting to comprehend the meaning at the same time. This can be done by giving feedback in the form of a paraphrasing what has been said or just repeating main points.
Use this technique and you'll quickly notice a difference in the quality of your communication.
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