How to improve verbal communication skills
Verbal communication is a valuable skill everyone should try to master. If you interact with many people at work, knowing how to communicate confidently and effectively can improve these interactions. Understanding how to properly use verbal and non-verbal cues can build colleague and customer relationships and establish yourself as someone to be respected and listened to.
What are verbal communication skills?
Verbal communication is a soft skill that involves using language to convey a message.
Verbal communication isn’t just about the words you say; it’s also about how you deliver and receive messages.
Why are verbal communication skills important?
Communication is necessary for the workplace. Communication effectively and clearly between meetings and presentations and connecting with your colleagues is vital. Having strong verbal communication skills enables you to build rapport with others and, as a result, creates positive and strong work relationships. By honing these skills, you can succeed in job interviews, projects, talks with clients, negotiating salaries, etc.
8 Tips to Improve Verbal Communication
- Be concise
- Practice active listening
- Think before speaking
- Understand your audience
- Understand non verbal cues
- Watch your tone
- Be authentic
- Practice and gain feedback
Using clear and concise language will keep your messages easy to understand. Avoid using long, complex sentences and skip any irrelevant details. Before speaking, ask yourself if it’s possible to be any clearer or if you can use fewer words. Using this technique can reduce confusion or misunderstanding in scenarios such as providing instructions to a colleague.
Practice active listening
Listening, specifically, active listening, is crucial to verbal communication. You can be a phenomenal public speaker, but do you know how to listen when speaking one-on-one? You might hear what someone says, but the interaction is useless if you don’t retain their message.
Active listening is a soft skill that involves observing verbal and non-verbal messages, assessing them, and preparing appropriate feedback. This skill helps you build rapport with colleagues and avoid misunderstandings in the workplace.
Active listening techniques include:
- Waiting for the speaker to finish before responding
- Paraphrasing or repeating to demonstrate understanding
- Asking questions to get clarification
- Using non-verbal cues like eye contact, sitting up straight, and nodding your head to show you’re paying attention
- Ignore internal bias to avoid making judgements or stereotyping
Think before speaking
Before speaking, take a moment to organize your thoughts into a concise and clear response. Your answer won’t come out as intended when you rush to respond. As uncomfortable as it might seem, don’t feel compelled to fill every moment of silence. Allowing for moments of silence to think gives the impression that you are articulate and insightful.
Understand your audience
To be an effective communicator, you need to know your audience. You wouldn’t speak the same way you do to your best friend as you do to your boss and vice versa. Adjusting your tone and language will help you appeal to various audiences.
Whether it’s a presentation or a one-on-one conversation, think about what your audience wants and needs to hear. Additionally, it’s key that you understand your audience’s perspective. Not everyone has the same knowledge or experience, so you need to adapt how your message is conveyed. Altering your message keeps your audience engaged and boosts productivity.
Understand non-verbal cues
Be aware of the message your body language and facial expressions send-off. Though these are
non-verbal forms of communication, they influence how our words are perceived. Having
relaxed body language can convey a sense of confidence and make you appear more
It’s also important that you pick up on other people’s non-verbal cues. Maintaining eye
contact will help you notice signs of engagement or hesitation from the person you speak with.
Watch your tone
Your tone is crucial to how your audience interacts with you. Using a monotone voice will probably bore your audience or make you appear uninterested. Instead, vary your tone and use inflection to emphasize your main points.
Verbal modelling can also be used to increase engagement further. This includes matching the tone of another person. If someone is speaking softly, you speak softly, and if someone speaks with higher energy, you do the same.
People are naturally drawn to speakers who feel genuine. While you need to watch your tone and be aware of your body language, it’s also important you show your authentic self. Staying true to yourself helps build relationships with colleagues and clients, creating a strong company culture.
Practice and gain feedback
Improving your verbal communication skills comes with practice. Consistently applying the above techniques in regular and personal interactions will help you master verbal communication in the workplace. Practice speaking in a mirror or record yourself to check for potential improvements to your body language and tone of voice. If you have a big speech or meeting coming up, consider rehearsing with family or friends. They can provide feedback and help identify areas of improvement.
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