Good Communication Skills Needed To Succeed In Today’s Market
By Ingrid Murro Botero
Allen and Dave Jorgenson have been friends since high school. Both have similar engineering degrees, good technical skills and strong work ethics. Both have similar jobs designing software for high-tech computer applications. Yet Mark has been promoted several times, and now earns $25,000 more than Dave.
The main difference between these two employees is that Mark has good communication skills. He speaks clearly and confidently, and can explain technical concepts in a way that is understandable to his colleagues and customers. Dave, on the other hand, is uncomfortable speaking in public, and generally resorts to technical jargon and lengthy pauses when he’s presenting his ideas.
In today’s environment, effective communication skills are one of the primary predictors of success. All too often companies excel in providing training in technical disciplines to their employees and overlook the importance of communication skills training.
To fine-tune your communications skills, study a videotape of yourself while speaking in public. Have a friend tape you leading a staff meeting or delivering an old speech. Then analyze the video tape carefully for the following items:
Like it or not, people’s first impression of you is based on what they see. To get an idea of how you present yourself, turn off the sound on the video, and make notes of any non-verbal items that need improving. Beware – the result may be humbling! You may notice deficiencies in your clothing and accessories, posture and facial expressions, or gestures and eye contact. Develop a plan to correct your deficiencies. This plan may include exercising, losing weight, upgrading your wardrobe, improving your posture, or practicing making more meaningful gestures.
Your voice is a powerful method of communication that contributes 38% of the meaning in face-to-face interactions, and 70% to 90% in telephone conversations. To analyze your voice, turn off the picture on the video and listen to what you’re saying. Are you speaking too quickly or too slowly? Does your voice have a pleasant range, volume and tone? Are you clear and precise when you’re speaking? If you detect a problem, read aloud to improve your voice.
Although we often concentrate on the content of our oral presentations, your words are worth only 7% of your impact in the first two to four minutes of new interactions. That’s because your audience has so much information to take in from their eyes and ears. To analyze the content of your speech, turn the video’s picture and sound back on, and listen carefully to your words. Make sure you’ve chosen words that are easily understood, and that your material is presented in a logical, easy to follow fashion. View presentations as an opportunity to enhance your image, increase your credibility, and serve your customers, clients and community.