Acing the subtle art of communication
Haven’t we all been mesmerised by the amazing delivery of a keynote speaker? Or wondered how the emcee is able to keep the audience in splits?
Or be overwhelmed by that confident team member who at the drop of a hat is able to bring forth the salient features of the presentation to clients? Yes, we all have been impressed by those gifted in the art of communication, and at the same time, mocked those who aren’t.
So, what makes some people successful in communicating with confidence while leaving some completely tongue tied?
The reasons could be many, but the one aspect that stands out is the knowledge of the subject and the ability to converse one’s thoughts clearly. Having said that, some are born communicators, while some like me had to work towards becoming a successful communicator and public speaker.
Through my childhood and well into my early forties, I had a stammer, which meant communication had never been easy. Over a period of time I learnt that that it takes two things to be a successful communicator
- Working towards your weakness
- Self-discipline and self-love
Without the two, overcoming the fear of public speaking and clear communications is an arduous task.
To those who want to ace that meeting, that interview, or put forth your view points to a fairly large crowd, the following should help:
Read, write, and edit
Nothing saves you like knowledge. My emphasis for reading stems from the confidence that it gives to a person. Knowledge is one’s true strength. Knowledge is truly empowering. Once you gain knowledge, the next steps become a lot easier.
Once you have read a chapter, try to summarise what you have understood or gained from reading that chapter. You will be amazed at the writer’s block. You just wouldn’t know how to start. I would like to say here... JUST START. However it may be. It is for your eyes only. So write. Once you start, you will be surprised at the flow.
Re-read your summary after a few hours or a day. The amount of edits that you spot will help you clear the clouding thoughts. Repeat the exercise. Practice will not only help you gain a perspective about a subject, but will also improve your communications skill immensely.
There is nothing like practice. Every art requires a decent investment of time and discipline to perfect. Stand in front of the mirror and talk about the subject you are comfortable with. Be the audience and ask questions.
Be brutally honest during this exercise. It will enervate you, defeat you and push you to the brink. But at the same time think of the questions that you asked yourself.
Your intelligence is at work and is pushing you to raise the bar! Rise to the occasion to build that confident you. Be your best critic. What will follow is a deafening applause.
One of the most dragging thoughts towards public speaking is the voice itself. Some people just can’t accept the fact that their voice is good enough. It could stem from being ridiculed at a young age for a voice that’s least in your control.
But that’s past. Now record your voice and keep hearing it. The more you record and hear yourself, it helps you correct your phonetics, diction and intonation.
In addition, it helps you understand if your voice is intimidating, friendly, sing-song or moody. It is a great way to change the way you speak and put forth your thoughts. It is a gateway to influence your thoughts by understanding your own weakness and convert that to strength.
The next step is video recording. I was often told that initially when people approached me, I sounded arrogant. I often wondered why since according to me, I was the most affable person. Then, during a recording session, I realised that my body language was definitely not in tune with my mind. My head swayed as if I was the be-all and end-all of all that existed in this world.
I took conscious effort to adapt my body language to that of my thought process and it worked wonders. It changed the way I looked at myself, for the better. It also helped me in putting together my external persona.
These are small, yet effective steps that go a long way in not just in your thought process but in your body language as well.
These will help you ace your interviews, presentations, business sales and in bringing a synergy to your team and team members. When there is clarity of thought, there is clarity in all that we do.
Go tell the world your thoughts concisely with clarity!
(Edited by Apoorva Puranik)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)