How you communicate and the words you choose can have an incredible impact on the way people perceive you. The tips listed below will help you speak more meaningfully and with greater impact:
Introductions. When you are in a room of people who may or may not know each other, make sure you introduce individuals in such a way as to make them memorable. For example, you could say: “Mary, I would like to introduce you to Ellen, who is also from Pensacola, Florida.” This example will give Mary and Ellen something to talk about as a baseline of comfort-their shared hometown. Once they start talking, they may find that they have mutual acquaintances, and can identify with each other easily long after the initial meeting.
“How are you…?”. So many people today use this phrase in conjunction with “Hi.”. It is overused. To make sure it retains the value behind the words, stop and listen to see what the person says. Gauge the look in their eyes to see if they are really “Fine.”. If not, change the emphasis-“How ARE you?” says so much more than “HOW are you?”. (Note the difference) Using this phrase with value will make a huge difference in the lives of people around you.
Avoiding “er, uh, and, um…”. When speaking either in public or even one on one, try to avoid these seemingly transitional articles. They not only make the listener question your knowledge of the subject in which you are discussing, but they lengthen the conversation, and will potentially bore the listener. Keep your sentences short, direct, and to the point, which will drive value and meaning through your words.
Know your subject matter. If someone is talking about last night’s football game, and you didn’t see the game (or, for that matter, don’t even like football!), don’t try to engage in conversation. Politely excuse yourself and either take a quick breather in the restroom, or find another group of people with whom you can engage in a conversation. Make sure that if you start a new topic, you know what you are talking about. Your credibility is diminished significantly when you talk about things and have little to no knowledge of them, but know just enough to be dangerous.
Be cognizant of time. When telling a story or a joke, be aware of how bored your listeners might become. Keep your story light, short, and have a point in telling it. If your story or tale is one of deeper meaning, make sure your listeners know in advance by simply saying, “This is a rather long story; I will try to be brief.”. This will prepare the listeners for a longer story, and will make them enjoy it much more when the story is shorter than they originally anticipated.
Effective communication skills are critical to an individual’s success in life. Whether in an office, a school, or in the bedroom of your 10 year old son, what you say and how you say it will have an incredible impact on the way people perceive you. If you are perceived as one who speaks with valuable information, then people will stop and listen. Otherwise, you will be left talking to the mirror!