Some people are born great communicators. They can walk into a room (or a board meeting) and instantly command the room with their words. They are engaging, present, and purposeful when communicating with others. For some of us though, this doesn’t come easily. The good news is it just takes some preparation and practice to develop those skills. Here are some tips, for those of us for whom it doesn’t come naturally, on how to be a better communicator.
Be Present and Show up
Being a good communicator involves both being a good speaker and a good listener. To do the latter you must be present. During your next meeting, instead of multitasking or letting your mind drift off, stay focused on the meeting and pay attention. Don’t go into a conversation with the sole purpose of presenting your points, but instead listen to the conversation and incorporate your points into your responses.
Let Go of Perfectionism
If you don’t speak out for fear of saying something wrong, you’ll never learn how to be a good communicator. In an article on Inc., the author suggests reframing your thoughts to let go of perfectionism. “Your message, your mission, and your work are what matters. And if you're stuck in a perfectionistic cycle, consider the other person's needs rather than staying stuck in your internal negative dialogue.”
If you are leading a meeting or presentation, it’s always a good idea to prepare ahead of time and practice the main points you’d like to convey. Think about the overall goal and the outcome you’d like and put your attention towards that instead of worrying about saying the exact right thing. By focusing on your objectives, it will help shape your communication style and lead to a more impactful speech.
Be Mindful of Body Language
Sometimes it’s what you don’t say, but what your body language portrays, that can also make you a more effective communicator. Are you seated or standing upright, or slouched over? Are your arms crossed, or relaxed by your side? You want to project openness and confidence; it’s important to be mindful of your body language and expressions.