When it comes to communication in any medium, there are three simple rules that should apply wherever possible: 1. Keep it clear. 2. Keep it concise. 3. Keep it credible. Let’s look at the three most common communication mediums and how to best use the three C’s.
Don’t mumble. Enunciate clearly and speak loud enough to be heard. Don’t speak too quickly. Use simple language and speak naturally without excessive pauses. Stay on topic. Eliminate distractions. Get feedback.
Don’t ramble or keep repeating yourself. Eliminate uh, uh, uh between sentences. Get to the point quickly. (Similar to writing.) Stop speaking before they stop listening.
Make sure your body language reinforces what you are saying. Make eye contact. Don’t speak too fast. Take your time. Be consistent with what you have said in the past. When answering questions, don’t bluff. Tell them you will look it up or think about it and get back to them. You can’t know everything, and if you pretend you do, you will lose credibility.
Here, like in writing, you are the receiver, and have an equal responsibility in the communication process.
Give full attention to the speaker. We think faster than anyone can speak; use the extra time to think about what is being said, where the speaker is headed, body language etc. Don’t prejudge. Ignore your hot buttons and focus on understanding what the speaker is saying and why.
Summarize in your mind what is being said. If listening to a public speaker or trainer, jot down main ideas. This will remind you of other things said as well.
How does this support or contradict what other people have said? What proof, example, references and so on have been given? Does the speaker’s body language contradict what is being said?
Whether you are speaking or listening, you want to make sure the body language supports what is being said rather than conflicts with it. It pays to have a good grasp of non-verbal communications.
Don’t misread the body language. Just learn the basic body language signs and see if most of them indicate something other than what the speaker is saying. Then draw your own conclusions.
Body language that supports what the speaker is saying lends credibility to it. But the speaker may have habits or mannerisms that have nothing to do with non-verbal communications. So don’t jump to conclusions. Alternatively, the speaker may have read the same book on body language as you have read and avoids anything that conflicts with what he or she is saying.