99 Ways to Improve Your Communication

4 people in photoboothStrong and effective communication skills are critical to your business success.

Here are 99 nuggets on speaking, writing, networking, interviews, and social media  that  you can use to supercharge your business communication skills. Off we go!

1.  Believe body language. It doesn’t lie.

2. Remember that every statement or comment does not require a response.

3. Choose your words carefully.

4. Speak and write with clarity.

5. Read whenever possible; it expands your vocabulary and creativity.

6. Be aware of your speech patterns and habits, including inflection, pacing and tone of voice.

7. Avoid interrupting people. We’re adults. One voice at a time.

8. Keep slang at home.

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9. Stay away from “empty” words such as “Frankly”, “Really,” and “Actually”

10. Prepare an outline when writing a speech, long blog post or article.

11. Focus conversations on other people, not yourself.

12. Weave names into conversations. Everyone’s favorite word is their own name.

13. Use more visuals and less text in PowerPoint presentations.

14. Insert silence and pauses into your speeches and conversations. They are more powerful than words.

15. Diffuse conflicts without technology. Plan a face-to-face meeting or a phone call to resolve issues amicably and quickly.

16. Develop the fine art of charisma. Don’t be a “crap magnet.”

17. Write to express, not to impress.

18. Engage your listener, reader, and audience with material that is clear, concise and compelling.

19. Ask good questions and you’ll get good information.

20. Listen with your mouth closed.

21.  Use the “P-R-R” method when answering questions: Pause, Reflect, Respond.

22. Greet the janitor and the CEO of the company in the exact same way.

23. Smile and use eye contact. It’s the universal language.

24. Know when to speak up and know when to shut up.

25. Follow the 5 P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (public speaking).

26. Respond to controversial or off-color comments with these three words, “Isn’t that interesting?” Then smile. It’s a neutral statement and dead-ends virtually all conversations. In a pleasant way, of course.

27. Improve your communication skills by observing positive role models you admire and respect.

28. Show value when reciting your “elevator speech.” Focus on the results you get for clients, not your job title.

29. Speak from the heart.

30. Follow a written agenda in meetings to save time and stay on task.

31. Make all important phone calls before noon.

32. Ask for the sale, then be quiet.

33. Walk the walk and talk the talk. Be congruent.

34. Stay away from industry jargon and rhetoric that can confuse people outside of your field.

35. Identify where your ideal clients hang out and go there (this is true for bricks and mortar and social media)

36.  Avoid writing emails and making phone calls when you are angry or frustrated.

37. Write your blogs consistently so people can gain insight into your expertise, experiences and personality.

38. Learn Emotional Intelligence (empathy, self-awareness, and teamwork) to improve your  communication skills.

39. Understand the importance of self-promotion and personal branding.

40. Walk into a room tall, strong and proud.

41. Look for similarities, not differences. This bridges communication gaps.

42.  Listen to what is not being said.

43. Avoid criticizing, complaining and judging.

44. Record yourself on audio or video to hear and see how you move and behave.

45. Answer the phone standing up and smiling.

46. Look in the mirror before you go into a meeting.

47. Give all of your attention to the person who is speaking. Avoid distractions and “darting eyes.”

48.  Turn off your technology when at a professional business meeting or event.

49. Avoid excessive and distracting clothing patterns, jewelry, make-up and accessories- especially when you are the speaker, tv guest or recording a video segment.

50. Be relevant and memorable.

51. Use gestures to empasize your spoken words.

52. Follow the leader. If he speaks fast, you speak fast. If he is slow, you should be slow.

53. Connect with people by being authentic and genuine.

54. Stay on message.

55. Dress like the person you aspire to be.

56. Build rapport with people.

57. Keep your jacket open. A closed jacket sends a nonverbal sign that you may be hiding something.

58. Offer a good handshake. Practice with someone you trust and get their feedback.

59. Thank someone when they offer a compliment (don’t argue!)

60. Save political, religious, sex and other controversial jokes or stories for outside of your  professional circles.

61. Respect the personal space of others.

62. Avoid planning your answer in your head when someone is speaking. Pay close attention to what they are saying and then respond.

63. Write with bullet points and white space so your information is “reader-friendly.”

64. Have a powerful opening and closing in your presentations, speeches, articles and blog posts.

65. Highlight benefits, not features, in your marketing and sales materials.

66. Create videos that are 1-3 minutes in length and are punchy, engaging and valuable.

67. Write tweets of less than 125 characters; leaving space for people to retweet and spread your message.

68. Connect with people’s emotions by using real-life examples and sharing stories.

69. Avoid keeping your reading glasses on and “looking down your nose” when speaking to others.

70. Emphasize important words or phrases by lowering or raising your voice or slowing down.

71. Exude positive energy in both your written and spoken words.

72. Understand the importance of making small talk.

73. Avoid biting your lip and inside cheek when speaking to someone (signals anxiety or nervousness)

74. Project your voice with authority.

75. Use smiles as positive reinforcements.

76. Express gratitude.

77. Re-read, and if necessary, rewrite everything before you send it, speak it or share it.

78. Maintain eye contact, but not at a level that can make someone feel uncomfortable.

79.  Keep your palms open when you ask questions, which indicates you are open-minded and welcoming.

80. Recognize when it’s appropriate to use a “social hug” to greet someone.

81. Avoid the word “stuff.” It’s vague and unprofessional. Be specific.

82.Write an article for your e-zine or newsletter that  includes interesting quotes and statistics.

83. Drink alcohol on your personal time.

84. Steer conversations to positive topics.

85. Dress appropriately for TV interviews and videos by finding out about the background colors, lighting and set design.

86. Have a mission or value statement that has repeatability so others can communicate it for you.

87. Use your body language to your advantage when delivering a speech. Don’t hide behind the podium.

88. Watch for cultural differences in communication styles.

89. Remember that enthusiasm is contagious.

90. Point your feet away from someone if you want to leave the conversation.

91. Respond to comments on your blog or website so it’s interactive and engaging.

92. Leave most of your personal life outside of business conversations.

93. Show respect and spare people’s feelings. Don’t blame or insult anyone.

94. Delete the word “just” from your vocabulary. It’s belittling. You are not “Just an accountant” or “Just a recruiter.” You are an accountant. You are a recruiter. Be proud.

95. Stop over-apologizing. You’re not responsible for the poor service, rain or world peace.

96. Resist the temptation to finish other people’s sentences.

97. Open your eyes, ears, and heart to new messages and people.

98. Be the fountain, not the drain.

99. Stand up if everyone around is standing and sit down if everyone is seated. Be on a level playing field.

 

(Photo Credit: Toothrot)

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29 comment on “99 Ways to Improve Your Communication
  1. Susan, I love reading your blog. I’m a new independent PR practitioner in Baton Rouge, LA, and you have inspired me with your creativity and words of wisdom. These tips are relevant to so many life situations. I particularly like #68 – using real life stories to touch people’s emotions. As PR practitioners, we must all be skilled at the art of story telling. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. Hi Amy, Thank you for such kind words! I find that in the end, we are all humans with emotions, and it is the stories that bring us all together.
      Best of luck to you with your PR work. I hope you find it as rewarding as I have! Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy New Year!
      Susan

  2. I agree with Duncan on 20 (I recall a good aide memoire is the proportion of ears we have to mouth and use accordingly!).

    I think Dale Carnegie’s wonderful ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ reminds me of how valuable 11 is in creating relationships and showing how attractive you are in someone else’s presence, by the way you honor them in the interaction.

    So often, even close to home, we see others who only have time for themselves, not realizing the negative impact they have on all the relationships they try to create and the (often immeasurable) damage they can set in motion.

    BTW, it’s lovely not to be needing to keep the characters down to 140 sometimes!

    Regards

    Martin

    1. Hi Daniel-
      Agreed on #38- Emotional Intelligence. A study I read from US News & World Report found 90% of people are fired due to attitudinal or relationship problems. Only 10 % are fired due to lack of skill or ability. EQ is the answer!
      Thank you for your feedback~
      Susan

  3. These tips are great. Thank you so much! I’ll definitely read it over before my next work-related event.

  4. One thing about speaking: pacing and enunciation is everything! A first-time public speaker will be nervous enough to try to talk quickly. This often results in the speaker running out of content before he runs out of time. In a large room, where a microphone and amplification are used, it can also mean nobody understands what you just said. Speak slowly, but don’t drag it out. You’ll feel like you’re talking way too slow, but the listeners will understand what you’re saying better.

    Also, know how to use a microphone. If it’s podium mounted, don’t move around Zig Ziglar style. If it’s a handheld mike (not a good idea, usually, but you use what you have), keep it close to your mouth, pointed AT you, not below your mouth pointing up. If you’re wearing a lapel mike, wear it on your lapel! If you aren’t in business formal attire, wear the mike on your shirt below your chin, *never* on one side or the other of your collar. Wearing it on your collar will completely ruin the sound when you turn your head.

    Can you tell I’ve been a sound engineer? 🙂

    1. Great information Joe, and so important. You are right on target with the pacing/delivery (I talk fast so I know!) and on the timeframe needed. Your mike tips are also key-thanks so much for sharing your expertise!
      Susan

  5. What a fantastic list of tips. Thank you very much Susan and also to all those who augmented them. When I was actively managing a team of people, number 36 would come up often. Since the people had to deal with issues, they were frequently angry with the person at the other end. I was able to get them to stop sending the angry emails or making the phone call immediately – but a way to handle their immediate response so it did not internalize, I encouraged them to write the email and address it to themselves. This allowed them to write off the anger and it very often provided them with some points to use in a positive manner when they were calm and able to handle the response. When it was a phone call that was needed as a reply, we used the same email technique. It was amazing how the amount of anger dissipated over time and everyone was much calmer in their attitude. They took offense less.
    It was a pleasure to tweet this out.
    S>

    1. Hi Susan-
      I truly appreciate the real-life example you shared on diffusing conflicts. Your techniques help to bring the message home.
      Thank you!
      Best regards~
      Susan

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