Communication is a skill we develop as we go through life. However it is a skill that can always be improved. I have found that by being an active Toastmaster I have improved my communication skills.
How I Improve My Communication Skills
Toastmasters taught me how to be a more efficient and effective communicator. I have learned many skills that have helped me deliver multiple presentations to many different audiences over the years.
Why Am I Talking?
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
Every audience is different and you have to match your message to the audience you have got or find a more appropriate audience for your message.
When I am thinking of speaking I always ask myself three questions
- What have I got to say?
- Is this the right audience for that message?
- What do I have to be aware of in advance?
Thus I need to know that I have got something worth saying and the audience wants to hear it. The third thing I need to know is if the venue is suitable for the presentation and if I have been allocated enough time to deliver my speech.
Bring The Audience Into My World
Effective communication is all about inviting the audience into your world. The best speeches show your audience a personal perspective on a common problem. Sometimes it is by sharing your vision for a better world. The best way to do this is by painting a visual picture of what you want your audience to see and feel. Immerse your audience in your vision so they forget about their daily distractions.
Keep It Simple
I have found in order to communicate effectively your audience needs to understand you. When you structure your speeches and use simple language you make it easy to be understood. I always read any speech I write aloud so I can check it sound okay and is easy to comprehend.
Let Your Passion Show
The best way to engage an audience is to demonstrate passion for your subject. This signals to your audience that this might be something worth listening to. Also when you are passionate about your subject you engage your audience.
Be Aware Of Your Audience
I often plan a speech and start delivering it to realise my audience is not engaged with my delivery. When this happens I alter my delivery slightly to reengage them. The better you have researched your audience the less likely this is to happen. It can also happen when you are using humor in your speech. If your jokes don’t work with your audience just move quickly on. The trick is to be aware of how you are impacting your audience at all times.
The March Of Time Is Relentless
I enjoy public speaking and sometimes I loose a sense of time. This is a really bad thing to happen when speaking. Be aware it is a privilege to be able to share your ideas with others. Respect the time you have been allotted and remember your audience’s time is always finite. Being conscious of time available has the added value of making your thought process more concise and therefore more effective.
Leave Them Wanting More
I have learnt the best speeches I have ever given leave the audience wanting to hear more. The trick is to give enough to deliver your message but leaving your audience wanting more.
Learning How To Communicate Well Takes A Lifetime
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Communication skills need to be honed and practiced over a lifetime. Toastmasters have taught me there is always more to learn. When I think I have learnt it all I suddenly see someone communicate differently and then I will want to try that in future.