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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Communicators

by on May 13, 2014

In our work as communications experts and advisors, our clients sometimes ask for a short list of effective communications tips. We’ve boiled it down to seven habits of highly effective communicators. Pick one and practice it for a week. Notice if others start to tune in better when you speak or write.

1. Always have a communications goal or a message in mind.
Stick to the point you want to make, don’t go off on a tangent.

2. Speak in short sentences.
The brain cannot absorb and remember long sentences.  Short sentences help your audience retain what you say and avoid confusion.

3. Project authority with your Word Choice
Choose words that are powerful, eliminate those that are weak or tentative.  Vague conceptual terms such as “sustainable” are tune out words that prevent you from being seen as a compelling speaker.  Avoid tentative phrases such as “I think,” or “One could argue…”  They diminish your confidence and authority.

4. Avoid Negatives
Speaking in the negative can confuse your audience.  You are highlighting what  is not the case or what you do not do: 
“It’s not true to say that I am an argumentative person.”
Instead, assert what IS. This keeps you from sounding defensive.
Better: “I’m quite agreeable and open to new ideas.”

Listeners tend to believe the opposite of your denials

“I am not a corrupt official who takes bribes.” or  “I am not a crook!”

Better: “I have always been honest.” or “Character and integrity are everything to me.” 

5. Avoid Value Judgments.  Speak about facts.

The statement: “Ireland did not do very well last year” can be construed as an opinion.  “Ireland’s growth rate fell last year from 8% to 1%,” is a fact. 

 

6. Voice Delivery
Project your voice so everyone can hear you. Speak clearly and at the right pace. Not too fast, not too slow. Avoid “um’s” or “ah’s.”  Put more emphasis on certain words to make your delivery more interesting to the ear. Pause before and after an important phrase or sentence to give it more power, and let your audience absorb it.

7. Body Language:

Stay open, do not cross your arms. Sit up straight. Relax and occupy your space, rather than shrink to take up less space. That’s construed as a sign of timidity. Maintain eye contact. Gesture naturally.  Smile when you greet your audience. Smile when you thank them at the end.

 

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