25 Oct 2016 14:35 IST

Stand out in the crowd with your communication

Good speaking skills go a long way in one’s career

A key component of success in college and through one’s career is the ability to articulate and communicate well.

As communication tools evolve from transparency sheets on overhead projectors to using iPads and smartphones, most of us have considerably improved our skills. The million-dollar question on every student’s mind is: What should I do to improve my communication skills so that I stand apart in the crowd? Good communication skills go a long way to give the much-needed boost in a person’s career.

Effective communication is imperative for professional success. A not-so-busy weekend gave me some time to put down my thoughts on the art of effective communication that will be useful to students and business professionals looking for advice.

Great communicators possess a heightened sense of situational and contextual awareness. They are great listeners and possess good observation power. They are skilled at reading a person by sensing mood, dynamics and attitude. Not only do they read their environment well, but they also possess the uncanny ability to adapt their communication to the said environment. They are clear in how and what they expect and they believe in the ‘less is more’ dictum.

Keep it crisp and short

The mantra for new-age business communication is to keep it short and crisp. There are three fundamental factors that one should keep in mind to improve communication skills.

Perfect body language : This one can work wonders. Your body language communicates respect and interest. It puts real meaning behind your words.

For example, in an interview, following a good dress code, wearing a confident smile, making eye contact, putting your mobile on silent and respecting your audience are some of the simple things that help create a lasting impression. If possible, try and video-record a session that you present — it will help you spot body language issues. Also, rehearsing in front of a mirror still works, so go ahead and try it.

Command of the language : Effective communication involves conveying your ideas to other people clearly and precisely. You can improve communication by improving your vocabulary. You must have a good command of the language and be able to use the right words and expressions. For this, you need to be a continuous and voracious reader.

Inculcate a healthy reading habit to enhance your vocabulary. The more words you have in your repertoire, the more choices you have. Make it a habit to read a good quality newspaper everyday; this will help with conversation topics, apart from improving your word bank.

Develop the art of storytelling : When presenting a specific topic, try and frame interesting facts and information into a compelling story. This will ensure the complete attention of your audience and make you stand out in the crowd.

Starting with a joke is a good way to capture the interest of the audience, but be sure you can pull it off effortlessly. Also, stay away from telling jokes that make people uncomfortable.

Drop annoying habits

Avoid annoying habits like swearing, fidgeting and giggling. Remember, great communication skills need patience and a lot of practice. A great source of positive criticism are your friends; get constant feedback from them on areas that you need to improve. Your ability to express yourself will grow as long as you proactively work on developing it.

Good luck and happy communicating!