“Effective Communication”, what’s the big deal about this..? Isn’t it as simple as you “send” the message & others “receive” it..? No it is not! “Effective Communication” requires much more effort than just sending & receiving messages. “Effective Communication” skills are now considered as a critical element in your career as well as in the personal life. We need to be conscious about what we are doing & how we are doing it. To become an effective communicator, a one must require having certain skills, knowledge & practices that grant him success.
Good communication skills ensure the way towards reading good & lasting impressions with others. It is no longer a secret that success of the people, both inside the workplace & outside is associated with their ability to communicate effectively. Therefore it is a major subject in today’s world that how to become an effective communicator. This study focuses on providing insight in to two key factors of effective communication, which are Effective Listening & Effective Presentation.
“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold” (Turkish proverb) Communication is a process of two parties, sender & receiver.
The role of the receiver is to attend carefully to what the sender has to deliver. Effective Listening is the critical success factor of the receiver’s job. Listening is one of the most important skills that a person should develop. Listening skill has a major effect on job effectiveness as well as on the quality of your relationship with others. If you are a bad listener you ended up as a bad communicator. Listening is not just hearing things but also understanding what you hear & respond when and where its necessary.
Listening is not just an act of communication but also it forms the axis for continued learning, teamwork skills, management skills, negotiation skills & emotional intelligence. But since we are not practiced our listening skills effectively 70% of all communications are misunderstood, misinterpreted, rejected, distorted or not heard. Clearly failed! A research suggests that we only remember between 25 – 50 % of what we hear. That means, when we talk to someone for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation.
Likewise when someone offers some information, we are not getting the whole message but assuming that we got the important parts captured in his 25 – 50 % we get. Therefore we can’t make sure that we get everything right in a communication process. To overcome this we need to have proper strategies on becoming an effective listener which helps us in achieving higher productivity, higher influence, increase responsiveness & to avoid conflicts or misunderstandings due to poor communication. There are some key factors that could help to become an effective listener & successful communicator.
Let’s think about these factors and see how we can adopt these in to our lives to become an effective listener. Active Listening is the well-known practice to become a good Sistine. It is all about interacting with the speaker physically as well as mentally. Listeners should have to have a focused mind not only to hear what the speaker is saying but, more importantly to understand the complete message being sent. An Effective Listener should be conscious enough to avoid distractions that may go around him, not letting himself to get bored & to keep his focus towards the messenger throughout the period.
Use positive body language like nodding your head occasionally or making eye contact with the speaker frequently or by presenting facial expressions that shows you are still with him. Through these you can encourage the speaker to continue speaking which will letting you to get more information as you need. Also should keep in mind that not to overdo or act in meaningless ways. Understand the Purpose or the goal of the conversation & focus on key point that talk. Ask the question ‘What’s in it for me.? “, so that you can have a clear idea about what output will this communication gives in return.
This purpose can be range through various scenarios like to exchanging information, to build relationships or to make anyone feel good about the conversation. Prior understanding about the goals will ensure that you know what you do & how to attend to the communication process. Ask Questions when and where you don’t understand something. If you feel like you missed a point make sure to ask for it. It’s better to clear out your thoughts rather than keeping it inside you. That may embarrass you later. Never assume that you got everything what the speaker meant.
Instead, ask questions and let him explain in detail to get the exact point correctly. Great communicators know how to use questions thoughtfully so that they can trick the speaker with its charm. Understand when to talk & when to listen is another key point to become an effective listener. “Ask Questions” doesn’t mean you have to interrupt the speaker all the time. It’s always good to choose your response wisely rather than jump in as soon as the other person pauses for a breath. Make sure to talk only when it’s really necessary. Hold your fire until your comprehension complete.
Don’t come in to conclusions just referring to a part of the message. Should plan what to say before speak because it should align with the discussion & should serve the purpose of the conversation. It is also important to keep ourselves controlled when you speak as well as not to spoil the speaker’s mind set. So because of these reasons understanding when to talk has become a key factor of effective listening. Focus on the core idea rather than on the facts is more important to stay attentive throughout the conversation. Good listeners concentrate on the central theme of the presenter while others roll around the facts.
Facts are presents to prove the point & to justify the theme. So when listening we must make sure that we are focused on the theme while referring to facts when it’s necessary. Because ultimate output of the conversation is only based on the theme discussed. Not all the content given during a talk is essential. Therefore we should make sure to choose when and where we need to concentrate more & avoid derailing from the track but align with it all the time. Keeping an open mind is another key success factor for an effective listener.
When we have an open mind we are not glued with one perception & hung upon them. When our mind is free ideas begin to grow within us and come to life. Also, we should not carry out with emotional words or reactions. Open mind is always a better learning tool for anyone. Avoid multitasking when you are opposed to listen. We should make sure our only focus is on the conversation and we capture the maximum of it. Trying to be smart by attending to many task during the conversation period may ended up as a failure. You only get some parts of the message & therefore your outcome will be lower than expected.
Also we must know that if the presenter/speaker noticed that we are not paying our 100% attention to the conversation, which will denominate him, devalue his commitment as well as his confidence level. That’ll affect not only the conversation process but also personality of particular person. So it’s always teeter to choose whether you should participate for the conversation or not, rather than attention wandering during the conversation. Place yourself at a better location that maximizes your ability to listen & focus to the speaker. Make sure your eyes, ears, brain & body all are comfortable & functioning effectively with where you sit.
Pick a place where you get the least amount of distraction. It’s better to be a front row as always so that you can have more interaction with the speaker throughout the period. Avoid places that you have to put harder effort to concentrate on the conversation such as back rows which you can’t hear he speaker cleanly or a noisy place like near the air conditioner. Another key strategy for effective listening is to take down notes when & where it’s necessary. It will improve the concentration because it keeps listeners mind and body together & helps to stay alert.
When taking down notes best practice is to write down a word or two to remind what are the important areas discussed during the conversation rather than writing everything like a short hand typist. These notes will help to get better idea about the discussed topic after the conversation when it’s necessary. As above practices helps to become an effective listener here are some poor listening habits that should avoid. These habits might mislead the listener & take his focus away as well. So it’s necessary to identify these poor habits which will affect negatively in the communication process.
Hearing what is expected is one poor habit which can be seen in many of us. Most of the people wants speaker to say what they expects. They tend to listen to only the things they want to listen. They refuse all other parts which they don’t want to hear. This will ended up getting false message to the listeners which fails the communication process. Opinion of uninteresting subject – most f the listeners convinced that the topic is uninteresting & nothing to do with their domain of work. Therefore they forget the main purpose of the discussion and turn to many other thoughts.
But the best practice should be to keeping the focus with the speaker all the time because maybe there will be something that helps. Criticizing the delivery or the appearance of the speaker is something most of the people do during a conversation. We tend to search for all the kinds of faults within the speaker such as the way he dress, his presentation style, the way he use the language & etc. This practice of looking to criticize the speaker takes us away from the actual purpose of attending to the conversation. So for the best interest of the listeners, they should avoid these kinds of behaviors.
Then there are people who try to outline everything that are being said. This is really ineffective because this might leads your focus away from the central theme of the discussion. If the speaker is so unrecognized in his presentation and his comments really cannot be taken in a one core area, in such a case a good listener must possess many strategies to capture the main points that’s align tit the theme.
Presenting is usually a part of our life, either in official or in personal. Whether you talk in front of a formal audience or making your voice heard in a meeting you are presenting your thoughts to others.
Many people argue that good presenters are born with it, not made. Which is a myth believed by most of the world even in this 21st century. Everybody has certain levels of skills and techniques that they practice when presenting themselves. Everybody has to practice more & learn more of these skills and techniques to improve their inference and performance when presenting. That’s really the best part about presentation. You can improve through practice. Listening to a well prepared presentation is a really interesting experience.
Everybody should put in hard work to improve their skills in presentation as it could give you a competitive advantage over others. To make an effective presentation there are some key important aspects that needs to be considered. Understanding the audience is one of the major aspects of all because success of your presentation is measure based on how the audience responds. Though the speaker thinks that he did a read job, if the audience don’t agrees with it, then the speaker has to rethink about his presentation. So it is really important to know your audience before the presentation.
Find out things like who are the members of the audience, determine what are their expectations from the presentation, what do they already know about the topic & their interest over the topic. The primary goal of people listening to the presentation is to get the information they need. If the audience is satisfied with that primary requirement then the presenter has done a great job. Clarity of the presentation should be maintained. The voice of the beaker should be clear; tone should vary at the necessary points in a necessary way, choice of words should be good enough to fascinate the listeners.
Using hard jargon and many technical details will discourage some listeners. So more you make it simple and clearer, the more you can satisfy your listeners. Organize the content well. This means understand what you have to present, to whom & how to present it. If you give right information in the wrong sequence this may confuse, frustrate or discourage the audience. Therefore presentation should be in a well-structured format and include various techniques to keep audience engaged and interested. Then they’ll listen to the presentation throughout and remember most of what presentation delivered.
To achieve this we can practice few points such as, Identify a few key points and include only them. Include less details and allow the audience to learn more on themselves Use examples & visual aids when necessary Start & end strongly. So that you can capture the focus of the people as soon as you begin & leave with a message they never forget. Get the audience involve time to time so that makes it much easier to keep them engaged and active throughout the presentation. Practice, Practice & Practice. This is the best way to build up your confidence.
No matter how good presenter you are, if you don’t have the practice you will not get the perfect result you expect. We should practice on how to command our language, how to manage the stress level, how keep our body language align with what we are telling & time management. This will help the speaker to gain more confident and self-satisfaction. The more the speaker practices the better the presentation turns to be. Delivering confidently is the next key aspects for an effective presentation. Even the best content can be ineffective if the presentation style contradicts with the theme of it.
Usually people get nervous & anxious, so that they tend to forget the key areas of the presentation. This can affect the delivery of the presentation. Confidence has lot to do with managing stress level when we speak. A little nervousness can be useful because it can energize us. But if the nervous grows to a level where we can’t control it, then it might affect the ability to perform effectively. So building up the self confidence is really useful to become an effective presenter. Because hen you present with confidence and authority, audience will likely to pay more attention and react as someone worth listen to.
Controlling the environment is also a key area that we need to consider when we are doing a presentation. Even though the presenter doesn’t have much control over the external environment, there are still some practices that can reduce the potential risk to the presentation. For this we can do practices in the presentation room so that we are getting familiar with the environment & also help to identify any issues that relates with the room setup. Also ask questions & get the feedback from he audience at regular intervals so that will make sure to keep the audience engaged throughout the presentation. Time the presentation.
The speaker should learn to respect the time of the audience. Plan your timing through practice well before the presentation. This will help you to plan how much time you have to spend on each topic. Try to wrap up within the given time period, so that will make huge positive impression on audience while if you go beyond they may disrupt the whole schedule of the event. So make sure to stick with the agenda as much as possible. Do it in your style. Most of the speakers get homeless in troubles by trying to imitate others. Even though people like the styles of great speakers like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King & Russell Peters… Hat’s not going to work with everybody. So it’s always better to understand your key strengths and weaknesses & present it in your way. Build up your own method of targeting people, using body language, changing tones of your voice and questioning the audience. That will give better confidence to you than what you get from trying to imitate others. Conclude strongly. In a presentation the conclusion is as much important as the introduction itself. It’s better to have a summary of the presentation at the end. Beware not to repeat everything stated in the presentation but to highlight the key points.
Make sure everybody get the right message through your presentation. Ask questions to ensure that. Inject the core theme of the presentation in to the audience. Leave them with a message they never forget. Leave a little to desire. This will let them talk about you & your presentation, in a positive way. As there are facts that make you an effective presenter, there are some facts that you need to avoid to become one. Don’t look at the presentation as a scary Hough. Never take down an opportunity to make a presentation. Take it as a challenge. Use it as a tool to reach new people & show what you are capable of. Reading the slides.
Especially if you are using power point slides or any other visual notes in your presentation reading the whole thing does not help the audience to understand. That will break your interaction with the audience and let them wondering around. Keep your slides simple and highlight only the core in it. Too much content has become the hallmark of the bad presenters. The more you put in to your presentation, the more you have to explain. If the reservation is too complicated that will confuse listeners. Then they refuse to pay attention to the presentation. Wearing the wrong clothes is another mistake most of the presenters make.
Being too casual, formal, inappropriate make audience distracted. They will get the bad perception about the presenter. So the best practice is to dress the way your audience expect you to dress.
How to Develop My Listening Skills Should train my mind to focus on one thing. Use audio and video presentations to get more exposure to presentations. Use online sources like TED & Youth to practice listening. Meditation could be a better practice that helps to have a focus mind. Read more about how to become an active listener. Again this needs a focus mind. So should practice on that.
Should read and search on how to behave and use our body language effectively in a presentation & practice them. Also should improve practice myself on raising question whenever it’s necessary. This is something I seek to avoid so far. But now it’s time to get used to it as now I know that it is an important feature of an effective listener. Practicing on taking down notes & refers to these notes whenever possible. Should search on effective techniques in note taking. Try to understand the purpose of the conversation as early as possible, so that can get prepared with the topic by doing some background research.
That will help me to understand easily when I’m listening. Practice what I learn through this study in the class room during the lecture sessions at PIMP. Should focus on listening to the lecturer with a conscious mind. This I see as the best way to develop these practices. Make conversations with my team members in workplace as well as at PIMP as a learning tool to improve listening skills. How to Develop My Presentation Skills Should look for more opportunities to conduct presentation in my current organization’s tech-talk sessions.
Tech-talk is a weekly presentation session done by a team member regarding any emerging topic. Attend positively in class room discussions and group presentations to improve my ability to communicate with others & presentation skills. Should join with a toastmaster club which gives more opportunity to interact with people & presentations. Read more about keys for effective presentations, best practices in making presentation slides, dos and don’t of presentations. Can learn through TED & Youth by watching how professionals conduct their presentations. Should practice on focusing to body language when doing a presentation.
Reading articles & watching some videos might helpful in this. Read about effective ways to keep audience alive with the presentation. How to get audience involve effectively. Should practice the art of questioning
Since the world is so incredibly diverse and communications has got in to such a wide variety of forms, it is important to develop many effective and helpful interpersonal skills. By practicing the few key areas discussed above, we can lid up our ability to communicate which helps to connect with people in a more effective manner.
Listening skills provides the basis for continuous learning, teamwork, management skills, negotiation skills & emotional intelligence. Therefore listening skill is a key area that we need to develop within ourselves to achieve success in our office life as well as in personal life. Active listening, having a focus mind & avoid distortions are main areas that we should keep in mind to become an effective listener. Presenting does not have to be scary or something we must avoid. We should find opportunities to practice the pips and techniques on how to become an effective presenter & get ourselves confidence.
Understanding the audience, simplicity in your content & confident delivery helps you in making an effective presentation. Continuous practice will help you in developing your confident. Great communication skills need practice & a conscious mind. Great presenters are not born but made. Practice is the best way to improve your communication skills. No matter what form of a communication we are doing, we must make sure to get the full message in it.