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Why Public Speaking and Communication
Are So Important to Your Career
When it comes to getting promoted and advancing in your career, there are two skills that are perhaps the most important to your success.
Communication and public speaking.
Why is Communication Important?
What exactly are we referring to when we say “communication”?
According to Merriam-Webster, communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior”.
In other words, communication is the way we receive and deliver messages to each other using words (spoken and written), tone, symbols, sounds, gestures, body language, and facial expressions. Each of these aspects plays a role in how we communicate, and when they aren’t used correctly, the message can easily be misinterpreted.
While not everyone is subjected to “public speaking” in their jobs, communication is vital in any career. Without effective communication, tasks don’t get completed correctly, or at all.
No matter what industry you are in, or what your job title is, good communication is crucial to the success of you and your team. And if you are not communicating effectively, your superiors will likely take notice, giving your peers the upper hand when it comes to bonuses and promotions.
Why is Public Speaking Important?
Then we have public speaking…
The words that many people fear, but are necessary to be successful in most workplaces.
So what exactly is public speaking? Merriam-Webster says “the act or process of making speeches in public; the art of effective oral communication with an audience”.
While both of these statements are accurate, the second half of the definition provides a more general perspective. Public speaking does not necessarily mean you are giving an actual speech.
Public speaking can also include activities like leading a meeting, giving a sales pitch, or telling a story in front of a small group. Any situation in which you are the primary communicator in front of a group of two or more people can be considered “public speaking”.
So, think about your career. How often are you in situations that require effective public speaking?
My guess is, ALL THE TIME!
In order to share your ideas and show off your abilities, you must be able to communicate them effectively in meetings and presentations.
Speaking in front of others is the best way to get noticed, and those who get noticed are usually the ones who get promoted or considered for other positions.
And, not to mention, if you ever want to be in management, you will most likely be leading meetings and presenting to upper management on a regular basis.
So, if you want to advance in your career, you better work on your communication and public speaking skills.
To help you get started, here are 18 tips to help you become a more effective communicator and public speaker.
How to Communicate Effectively
Be clear and concise
When communicating with others, it is important to be very detailed and thoughtful when choosing your words to ensure your audience understands exactly what you are communicating.
Feedback can also be very useful to better understand how well you are communicating. By asking others for their feedback or confirmation, you will know whether or not they completely understand your message. It can also help you make changes in the way you communicate if someone has difficulty understanding your message.
Be aware of non-verbal communication
When talking to someone face to face, take note of their non-verbal cues, such as their body language and facial expressions. Sometimes these cues can tell you more about what the other person is thinking or feeling than anything they actually say, so be aware of the non-verbal cues that you and others are showing.
Encourage open discussions and two-way communication
Always be inviting to others. Make sure people know that you are open for discussion without any judgment or criticism. Let them know you are happy to listen and help so they feel comfortable enough to come to you openly. Building this trust and relationship with others will go a long way in ensuring effective communication.
Use the appropriate method of communication
Depending on the situation, some methods of communication are better than others. While face to face, video chat, or over the phone are usually the best, since you can say more and use other methods of expression, there is also a time and place for other communication methods like email, chat, or texting. It’s important to understand which method to use depending on the situation.
Be receptive and listen attentively
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of effective communication is being receptive and listening attentively. When you take the time to listen to others, it is much easier to communicate back to them in a way that they understand. By listening attentively, you also show that you care, enhancing your mutual respect for each other.
Have mutual respect
You need to develop a mutual respect with others in order to achieve effective communication. By developing this relationship, you will have more trust and respect for each other, and, therefore, will work better with them to accomplish a certain task.
Listen to tone of voice
When communicating over the phone, face to face, or video chat, tone of voice can also influence how your message is received. If your tone doesn’t match the message you are trying to send, it may cause confusion and misinterpretation from others.
Use appropriate emotions
There are many different scenarios that require you to communicate with certain emotions to get your message across. For instance, if you are trying to tell your co-worker that you need something done by the end of the day, they are much more likely to understand the importance if you communicate in a way that is authoritative and demanding, instead of a playful and friendly way.
Understand who you are communicating with
People also require different methods and styles of communication. People have different emotions and work better with different types of communication. So, it is important to understand who you are communicating with, and how they communicate most effectively.
How to Become a More Confident and Skilled Public Speaker
Overcome fear and anxiety
The first thing most people need to do is let go of the fear and anxiety caused by public speaking. There are many techniques that you can use to overcome your fear of public speaking, so find what works best for you.
Much like everything else in life, the more you practice, the better you become. Not only will practicing make you a better speaker, it will also give you confidence and help you overcome your fear and anxiety. Take every opportunity you can to speak in front of others, whether it’s in front of your family and friends, a group club, or a class. Practice and repetition are key.
Make it about your audience
Whatever it is you are speaking on should benefit your audience. While it may be about you, the goal should be to bring value to your audience or communicate a point, so be sure to engage with the audience and focus on helping them. This will help take the focus off of you, and make it more about helping the audience.
Set your expectations beforehand
Understand what your goal is, and accept that you won’t satisfy everyone. Anytime you are giving a speech or presentation of any kind, there are always going to be people in the audience that don’t want to be there, and you will see it on their faces. So it’s good to go in with the mindset that not everyone will enjoy it. That way it doesn’t throw you off guard. Your main goal should be communicating a message in a way that brings value to as many people as possible.
Make slides, but don’t memorize
It can be helpful to make slides to present your topic. This can help guide you, and give your audience visuals to follow. It’s important that you keep the slides simple and clean though, so that your audience doesn’t get distracted. And don’t memorize a presentation word for word either, unless you really take enough time to practice and make it sound unscripted. Your audience wants to hear your authenticity, which is difficult when you are reciting lines directly off a slide show.
Exercise and practice your breathing
In order to give a great presentation, you need to sound confident. Exercise and proper breathing techniques can help give you confidence and allow you to speak loud and clear, instead of with a shaky, nervous voice.
When you are presenting, try to slow down a little. When we get nervous or excited, we tend to start talking too fast and forget how to breathe without even noticing. So consciously take the time to slow down your talking and take pauses for both dramatic effect, and to control your breathing.
Use effective body language
Your body language tells a lot about you while on stage. It’s important to use your body language to project confidence and to engage the audience. While you don’t want to use too much movement so that it distracts the audience, using small hand movements and facial expressions can help engage the audience and make your points more effective.
While communication and public speaking aren’t the only skills you need to advance in your career, they are certainly near the top in terms of what will help you the most, regardless of what job or industry you are in.
And the best part about developing these skills is that they will help you in many other ways, such as developing and nurturing personal relationships, networking, interviewing for a job, giving a wedding speech or dinner toast, parenting, succeeding in school, and so much more!
Communication is so important in every aspect of our lives, so making sure you can communicate effectively will help in many ways throughout your career and personal life.
About the Author
Parker Horton is the Founder of Speakers Anonymous, an online community where individuals can come to practice and develop their public speaking and communication skills. His community hosts video tutorials, free training led by public speaking coaches, and most notably, practice sessions where individuals can practice speaking with others.