Steve Jobs inspired his workers to work hard for the best hardware products. Jack Welch was a mentor to GE’s senior leadership team. Jeff Bezos is well-known for communicating the Amazon ethos clearly and effectively to employees and the rest of the world. These leaders all have exceptional leadership skills.
These 14 tips will help you improve your communication skills to become a better leader.
1. Learn the basics of nonverbal communication.
A study found that 55 percent of audience perceptions of a presenter were influenced by nonverbal communication. This means that most of what you communicate is not via words but rather through your body language.
Proper posture is key to communicating clearly and confidently. Do not slouch, fold your arms or make yourself look smaller than you really are. Fill up the space, keep your eyes open, and if necessary, move about the space.
2. To communicate, you must overcommunicate
A Stanford University graduate student proved that presenters underestimate the amount of listeners’ understanding in 1990One group of participants was asked by a researcher to tap the melody from 120 songs. Participants were then asked to guess which song was being tapped.
Tappers believed that 50% of songs would be correctly identified. However, only 2.5% of songs were correctly identified. This study highlights the importance of communicating clearly and over-communicating when sharing new ideas. This study shows that it is possible for the audience to not absorb as much information as you expect.
3. Avoid relying on visual aids.
Steve Jobs established a rule at Apple that banned all PowerPoint presentations. Similarly, Sheryl Sandberg banned Powerpoint on Facebook. Both leaders recognized that PowerPoint presentations could hinder communication rather than facilitate it.
To communicate your message with the audience, you must be able to use words, storytelling, and nonverbal cues. If you absolutely need visual aids, avoid them.
4. Ask for honest feedback.
To improve your communication skills and leadership abilities, it is important to receive honest feedback from colleagues, managers, and other members of your team. You will find areas of improvement if you solicit feedback regularly.
5. Engage the audience in discussion.
No matter how captivating the speaker may be, audiences have short attention spans. Make presentations and discussions interactive to become a better communicator.
Ask your audience a question and encourage them to brainstorm. Or, at the very minimum, ask them hypothetical questions to stimulate their thinking.
6. Start and end with key points.
Remember the earlier study on “tappers and hearers”? The clarity in communication is crucial. Reiterating key points at the beginning and end of a presentation will ensure that audience members understand the main takeaways. You can also give attendees a one-pager with key points that should be considered throughout the presentation.
7. Use the PIP approach.
Business experts like McKinsey use a common framework for presentation introductions: the purpose, significance, preview (PIP). The speaker will first state the purpose of the presentation and then share why it is important, as well as possible outcomes.
The presenter then gives a preview of the topics to be covered. This framework can be used to inspire audiences and help them focus on the message and key takeaways.
8. Record important presentations for posterity.
Communicating effectively can require a lot of energy and time. Consider recording the presentation and sharing it later, especially if you are required to present the same presentation several times.
Wistia and Zoom enable speakers to record themselves giving a presentation. These platforms allow presenters the ability to edit the video to make it more interesting and useful. Administrators can also access metrics on viewer engagement.
Recorded presentations are especially useful for communicators who have to provide regular training in a company that hires employees quickly.
9. Master the art of timing.
Standup comedians can be funny, but some jokes may not be appropriate for work. Comedy stars such as Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are able to host entertaining 90-minute shows because they have perfect timing.
Like all great communicators and comedians, great comedians are able to feel their audience decide when to go on to another topic or when to repeat an idea.
10. Get comfortable speaking extemporaneously.
Lawyers often speak spontaneously when presenting a case before the United States Supreme Court. The lawyers will often speak out of the mouth when presenting a case before the United States Supreme Court. They may have a list of topics in mind, but not what words they will use. This communication method allows lawyers to present a case and cover all the relevant points. However, they can adjust how they communicate depending on the audience’s reaction or questions.
Extemporaneous speaking is a good choice for business communicators. Although it takes practice, this will make communication more natural and help increase audience engagement.
11. Get to know your audience.
It is essential to first get to know your audience in order to communicate effectively. Every audience is unique and has different cultural norms and preferences that must be taken into consideration when communicating. Asking members of the audience to give examples of effective communicators within the company is a great way to get to know their expectations.
12. Add novelty to improve audience retention.
Recent research has shown that people retain more information when they are presented with new situations than those they have been exposed to in their daily lives. You can help your audience retain information by injecting some kind of novelty into your presentation. You could make it funny or surprise people.
13. Instead of laughing, focus on earning respect.
Sometimes it can be tempting just to have a fun conversation with someone. After all, it can be a great way to make new friends in a professional setting. Remember that communicators who are respected and not just laughed at are the ones who succeed. Although a few jokes can warm up an audience, it is not a good idea to end a presentation with a chuckle.
14. Be a listener.
Listen more than you speak. Richard Branson teaches businesspeople how to connect with others. Listen to others to communicate effectively. You can then respond with a thoughtful response that shows you have considered those ideas.
As a leader, communicating clearly is one of your most valuable skills. Communicate using both verbal and nonverbal cues. Pay attention to the words of others and communicate in new ways to make sure the conversation stays with them.