Limited communication skills will limit the size of your audience and the variety of situations that you can perform in well. One of your primary objectives as a master communicator is to stretch yourself by learning a variety of new ways to communicate with others. That way, you'll be prepared to connect well with any person that you meet in your personal and professional life.
The following suggestions are designed to help you develop a wider range of communication styles so that you'll be ready for any situation that comes your way:
o Meet lots of different people.
Practice by conversing with everyone you meet. It could be with the cashier at the supermarket, people in line at the bank, someone at your doctor's office, a co-worker taking a break, or a neighbor who is out walking their dog. How about trying a fun social activity like going to a sushi bar, joining a reading group, signing up for a guided tour of a local historical site, or taking a co-ed exercise class? You also want to meet people of different ages like kids and seniors as well as people from other areas like foreign-born Americans or tourists from other states. The idea is to pick up lots of different speaking styles while you practice your own ability to converse, overcome your shyness, and build your self-confidence.
o Talk less, listen more.
This may be the simplest and easiest communication tip to implement. Just be changing the focus away from you towards the other person will greatly improve your overall relationships. While you're practicing this new discipline, you will most likely get better at listening as well as pick up ways of doing a more effective job of speaking.
o Talk more if you're generally shy.
Shyness is one of those things that you just have to bite the bullet on and "get over it." We all have moments or environments where we do not feel very comfortable and speaking up is not something that comes naturally. But when shenyness becomes your standard way of dealing with people, it strictly limits the quantity and quality of your relationships. For starters, get yourself into small, low pressure conversations. Talk about simple things around you that everyone notices. Some good examples might be: "who about the traffic going to work," "what about this cold weather," "do you like the time change," and "what about the price of a tank of gas." Say a few words like these and then let the other person have a chance to talk. When you run out of things to say, have a polite exit strategy where you say, "It was nice talking with you.
o Adjust your speed and volume for different effects.
There are times when speaking more quickly has its advantages. For example, when you're telling a story it's important to skip through the unnecessary details in order to get to your point before the audience falls asleep on you. You also want to put energy and excitement into your voice as well to show others that you're excited about what you're talking about. On the other hand, there are times when you want to slow down your rate of speaking to show thoughtfulness or more emotion. In addition, your volume and speed need to vary at times in order to avoid having a boring monotone while you're speaking.
o Develop skill and self-confidence by telling jokes.
An indirect way of improving your communication skills is being learning how to tell a good narrative joke. Doing jokes will teach you how to tell a story quickly, describe an absurd situation with freshness, and delivery the punch line with a straight face. A couple things to remember about telling jokes to make sure that no one will be easily offended by the content and to refrain from laughing at your own joke before it's finished. Recently, I bought a comedy DVD starring Kathy Madigan who does hilarious clean humor by telling funny stories. You may also consider doing the same in order to see how professions tell jokes and funny stories to entertain audiences.
o Practice a more formal way of speaking.
When I was 10 years old, my family moved to Palos Verdes, an upper middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. I immediately began to notice how well-spoken the kids were who live there. I remember running into a classmate at a local restaurant one night who smoothly introduced me to his parents by saying, "Dad and Mom, I'd like you to meet my friend, Steve Nakamoto. and I are in the same math class together. " By increasing your range into the more formal areas, you'll have the style and skill to walk into more situations with more self-confidence and effectiveness.
o Experiment with a more informal manner of speaking.
On the other hand, be sure that you can touch people in a casual style of conversing, too. The twenty year old guys that I play beach volleyball with often greet me by saying simply, "Dude, what up?" Their style of talking is quick, light, and fun. When these young guys talk, they're in, they're out, and then they're moving on. And they usually try to leave you laughing. That's not a bad way to conduct a conversation when you have lots of places to go and tons of people to interact with in a day.
o Study or mimic other people's styles.
The next time you turn on a television talk show, be sure to notice the way top-rated hosts communicate with their audiences. Whether it's Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, or Montel Williams who you like to watch, begin to notice their facial expressions, hand gestures, changes in voice tones, as well as how they listen, ask questions, give compliments , and tell stories. When you have highly-effective communicators to model, you can quickly accelerate your growth by paying close attention and picking up a few points along the way.
Commit to stretching your abilities by stepping out of your comfort zone and you will be taking an active step in your learning process. The first step is to pay attention to details and become more aware how you can get better at your communication. The next step is to make tasks for yourself so that you actually challenge yourself to do something in that direction. What you know intellectually will be of no value without you take action while the ideas are fresh in your mind.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When you learn like a winner by stretching your communication range, you'll be preparing yourself for your opportunities in the future. The quicker that you get on this path, the more ready you'll be to achieve the results that you desire in your personal and professional relationships.