You’ve probably heard that good communication makes for better relationships; whether it’s at work, home, or elsewhere. But effective communication involves more than speaking eloquently and with confidence. Here are some tips that can help to enhance your communication skills and utilize them to the fullest.
Be Mindful of Body Language: Comprehending the body language of others is no myth. If you notice someone in your seminar or team meeting that is not looking at you, is looking down or looking around the room, chances are they are not listening to you. On the other hand, if someone is making eye contact, smiling or even leaning in slightly, those are all indicators that they are more engaged in what you’re saying. Obviously, the latter is what you want!
Another indicator of disinterest is someone who is sitting rigidly with crossed arms and a posture that is turned away from you. Consider this a red flag and indication that your attendee is closing themselves off to what you have to say. There’s a reason why it’s called the “cold shoulder,” because turning a shoulder to someone is a strong signal that they aren’t receptive to what you’re saying.
Observing negative body language within your audience is a viable clue that it might be time to adjust your speech or style. If someone is clearly not listening, it could be a sign you are talking too much, being offensive, or just not connecting with them like you should.
Listen: Ever heard the saying, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak?” Though a profoundly true statement, communication works both ways. We all know how irritating it is when we don’t feel we are being listened to; so as a meeting facilitator or speaker, it’s important to stop, acknowledge and listen to what others have to say. Listening means considering another’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it, and holding our thoughts or interjections until after the speaker has said his or her piece.
Don’t Fill in the Silence: Silence can be…how do I say it? Awkward. No one likes the sound of crickets when a question or opinion is asked; but silence is not always bad and it’s a good idea to learn to be comfortable with it. Allowing silence to happen can be a great way to encourage people to talk; because chances are, they don’t like silence either. Many speakers find that the best discussions occur when the silence is finally broken. As a leader, speaker or trainer, if you rush to fill the void of silence, you may miss some of the more golden moments of discussion or opportunity to gain some valuable insights. By chattering away to fill in the void you are also not thinking before speaking, which is crucial to effective communication. While it might get a little awkward at times, it’s okay to pause now and then and let the silence be a rest between communications.