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Improve Communication Skill in 9 Easy Ways

Aug 17, 2007
Want to know how to improve communication skill in just a few easy steps. Communication skill does not necessarily come naturally. The reason it is called a skill is that it takes practice and it cannot be acquired overnight, so do not beat yourself up over it if it takes a little while.

There are a few things to learn about both speaking and listening to really develop great communication skill.

However, you can start today, this very minute, on getting better and more comfortable and having conversations with people.

Here are just a few ways you can get started:

1. Start a conversation with someone

It can be someone you know well, to begin with. That should be easier. Just make a comment to them preferably something that requires and answer so you can start a bit of a to and from volley of words. Conversations are a bit like tennis matches that way you throw the subject to and fro between you.

2. Plan what you are going to say

Now this may not be necessary for every casual conversation you have, so do not get too uptight about this, but if the conversation calls for something more formal or you are particularly nervous about having the conversation plan ahead. Have in mind the point of the conversation and at least a few of the points which you want to get across.

3. Check the understanding of your listener

As well as subtly taking cues from their body language, there is nothing wrong with breaking off from what you are saying to ask,"Are you following me?"

4. Set the tone

Warm enthusiasm is the right tone for most conversations because it shows that you are interested in your topic but also that you will take account of your audience and respond to their needs too. You can vary this tone as and when the situation or conversation calls for it, of course.

5. Any questions?

Often in a conversation especially one that has more purpose than general getting to know you talk, it is appropriate to invite questions. When you answer the questions, though do not feel you have to launch straight into an answer; take your time and make sure you have the answer right in your head first.

You could also paraphrase the question and mirror it back to the person that asked you, to ensure that you have understood correctly. People will like this kind of courteous care.

Do not feel you have to hold all the answers, either. If you do not know something, say you do not know and offer to find out. That is much more respectful and helping than making up an answer!

6. Listening is as important as speaking

Develop your listening skill by listening attentively to the whole sentence or message, so you can be sure you fully understand what is being said.

Look at the speaker and maintain a comfortable level of eye contact so that you are concentrating on them all the time. Their facial expressions and tone of voice will tell you just as much if not more than the actual words spoken. Show that you are listening by nodding and making occasional noises of approval.

7. Give people a chance

If you are not going to do all the talking and turn this into a lecture and not a conversation then the other person needs to speak. Let them. Leave pauses and also pick up on body language of when it looks like they want to speak.

8. Be prepared to be pro-active

You are not the only one who might find it difficult to take part in a conversation. The person you are talking to may feel just as awkward if not more so. Help them along by inviting them into the conversation with an easy question to answer.

That does not mean putting them on the spot; just a simple "what do you think?" is as good as anything, often.

9. Value contributions of others

Once you have let someone else speak, do not immediately think, "Oh right, my turn now let us get back to the important subject me!"

Pick up from what was said with a question that shows you were listening and allows them to illustrate a little further, or make a comment of approval, perhaps by saying how their vacation sounded lovely and you would like to visit there some day: something along those lines, anyway.

Follow these few tips will soon have your conversation flowing more easily and you will feel much easier about starting conversations. Do you see now how it does not have to be so hard to improve communication skill?
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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