Saturday, December 3, 2011

Five Things You Need to Do to Become an Effective Communicator

This week I stubbed my toe. Besides it being extremely painful, bruised and swollen, it was the first time in ages I had injured myself. And, to add insult to injury, I had no one to blame but myself. I carelessly dropped my boots in the middle of a well-worn path from my charging Blackberry to the bathroom. Knowing the route well, I didn't think to look at the floor. And so in retracing my steps, I tripped over the boots; to avoid falling, my right foot plowed full force into the leg of an antique walnut chair. The chair survived without a scratch, but I did not!

I have to admit that this random accident, which happened Tuesday at 5 a.m., could have been avoided if I done three things: turned on a light, stopped multi-tasking, and cleared all obstacles on the path. Accidents happen, but I offer my mental takeaways to you to help keep your next presentation from getting de-railed.

Here are five important things to make you a more effective communicator.

  1. Clear the path. Clear all physical and mental obstacles from your path. Focus on what you want to accomplish, since creating a clear roadmap should be your first and final objective.
  2. Be aware of nonverbal communication. Drill down on the first impression you give to an audience—or anyone, for that matter. And yes, it generally happens for good or bad within five to seven seconds. Non-verbal communication is powerful and signaled by messages you send with your eyes, posture, facial expression, and even the spring in your step. Get feedback and then capitalize on your best qualities.
  3. Adapt a conversational style. Analyze yourself. Do you tend to dominate and/or complain, and can you be a sympathetic listener? Work to be likeable. Likeability is a major part of success.
  4. Read outside your field. The more you can bring to your subject, the more interesting your presentation will be.
  5. Control your space. If you're comfortable in your space, everything else follows. Practice moving out from behind a podium and using gestures to emphasize your space and passion for your subject.

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