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Communication Skills and Professional Presence

Learn how to use your body, voice and words to effectively communicate
       Competence is inferred by the way we speak about what we know. Inferences about peoples’ abilities are based on their communication styles. People are judged not only by the words they choose to articulate a thought, but also by the tone and body language used during the delivery. It is important to be mindful of the images you project, not so as to live up to the expectations of others, but to ensure that any inferences made about you accurately reflect who you are. To do so, you must develop effective communication skills. This is not to suggest that form is more important than substance. However, you never want your “form” to impede your ability communicate effectively.

          To ensure your body always supports your message consider the following tips.

          Make eye contact. Look people directly in the eye when you are speaking. This serves three purposes. 1) It engages people. Your eyes are like magnets; people cannot look away. They will feel acknowledged and drawn in to the conversation. 2) It allows you to focus on your content of your message and reduces any nervousness or discomfort you might have. 3) It provides instant feedback to determine how your message is being received. You will be able to see if people are confused, doubtful, bored, etc., and adjust your message accordingly.

         Use your body to project confidence. Your stance should convey power and authority. Stand tall with your shoulders back and your feet firmly planted about hips-width apart. This will allow you to balance your weight and minimize distracting shifts from leg to leg as well as rocking backing and forth or swaying which makes you look nervous and uncomfortable.

          The same principal applies when seated. Your feet should be flat on the ground and your forearms should be placed on the table. Sit on the front 2/3rds of the chair to ensure you are sitting straight. While this is not the most comfortable way to sit, it is the most commanding. When you are in the listener role, you can assume a more comfortable position.

          Understand the power of your voice. Your voice is a very powerful, seldom thought about tool. Notice effective speakers. There is a pace and a rhythm to their speech patterns. They project their voices, using pauses for dramatic effect. Always speak slowly, enunciate clearly and smile when appropriate to let your enthusiasm and energy come through.

          Remember to breathe. If your speech pattern is peppered with “ums,” “uhs,” “ers,” “likes” and “you knows” it is probably because you aren’t breathing properly. At the end of each sentence, take a breath, focus your eyes and deliver the next sentence or thought. Power is never rushed.

          Organizing Your Thoughts. The most common error people make in communication is to organize their presentation in the order they, as the speakers, feel is most important. Yet, the reality is, the listeners typically have an entirely different set of priorities and/or information needs. By focusing on the listeners needs, you stand a greater likelihood of communicating your message more effectively. You will know you were effective if, by the end of your presentation the audience:

  • has no unanswered question;
  • is able to restate your main point;
  • believes you were credible.

These basic communication principals hold true whether you are speaking one-on-one or at a small group meeting or delivering a presentation at a convention center.  Remember, YOU are the message.

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Comments (2)
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

Nice post Kathleen that underscores the importance of effective communication and people skills and outlining great reminders for success. You are quite right that you need both "occupational skills" and people skills to get the job done.

Even in fields where this has not been traditionally true, it is true today. A study of 1400 CFO's showed that they ranked communication and people skills of equal/greater importance than occupational skills alone.

Here are two posts that expands your tips on great communication skills:

----------

http://katenasser.com/bury-these-phrases-best-teamwork-peopleskills/

http://katenasser.com/people-skills-tips-for-technical-professionals/

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Thanks for your article. I will RT on Twitter for others to read/learn.

Kate Nasser

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

Nice post Kathleen that underscores the importance of effective communication and people skills and outlining great reminders for success. You are quite right that you need both "occupational skills" and people skills to get the job done.

Even in fields where this has not been traditionally true, it is true today. A study of 1400 CFO's showed that they ranked communication and people skills of equal/greater importance than occupational skills alone.

Here are two posts that expands your tips on great communication skills:

----------

http://katenasser.com/bury-these-phrases-best-teamwork-peopleskills/

http://katenasser.com/people-skills-tips-for-technical-professionals/

----

Thanks for your article. I will RT on Twitter for others to read/learn.

Kate Nasser

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