In the digital era, digital workers are oftentimes more comfortable communicating behind a screen than they are face to face, or verbally. You might use your smartphone to send texts or emails, to chat with others and in these tools, you are likely to use emojis to express opinions, right?
But according to some recent data, there is a significant gap between how effective students and young professionals believe their oral communications to be – and what employers think of those skills. While majority of young people think they communicate well orally, less than a third of employers agree.
Importance of Good Verbal Communication
Communicating effectively is built on a whole range of different factors. From the things you say and the way you say them to non-verbal communication, to writing skills, even your overall appearance – all of these things affect the way that you share, receive, and transmit information.
In the digital age, oral communication skills in the workplace are still vitally important. There will be all kinds of situations at work where you will need to use these skills. From business meetings to product or services workshops; when you are required to give a presentation, or even a lecture to colleagues or clients, and even in simple day-to-day conversations.
When you communicate well verbally, you are in a better position to avoid time-wasting, misunderstandings, miscommunication, and conflict. And to control how other people perceive you.
In the professional context, where “time is money,” developing effective oral communication skills means that you are better able to convey accurate and relevant information quickly as well as efficiently – which ultimately will lead to better outcomes. You avoid confusion that can arise from email or text exchanges where meaning can become distorted. And you also signal your professionalism and your proficiency to others – especially your superiors.
So how do you build better oral communication skills in order to do your job better and accelerate your professional development?
There are a multitude of work scenarios, but here are four very common work situations. We offer advice on ways you can communicate more effectively during these situations and you can adapt them to fit other types of interactions.
Whether you are hosting a meeting with colleagues or attending it as a participant, you are going to want to get your views across concisely, crisply, and directly. If you say too little, you risk not getting your point across. If you ramble on too much, you risk others zoning out and not paying attention. Take a moment before you speak to think about precisely what it is you want to say. This will help you sharpen your focus and avoid you talking excessively and confusing others. In general, thinking before you speak is a good communication habit to develop. Also, sometimes you need to wait to add voice your input, you should make a bullet list of points you plan to make. This helps you focus your comments and keeps you from feeling the need to interrupt.
At some point in your professional life it is likely you will have to give a presentation. And if you are not naturally inclined to speaking in front of others, you will also have to deal with the kinds of nerves and stress that can come with speaking in public. It is essential to prepare in advance and practice, so you feel more confident and that will lead to you feeling calmer. Again, be sure of what it is you want to say – the key ideas or messages that you need to convey – and take plenty of time to develop the presentation concisely. Try to use short words and short sentences that summarize each idea crisply. And aim to speak as slowly as you can. Even if you feel nervous and want to get the presentation done as quickly as possible, focus on the importance of each key idea, and do not rush. You will avoid confusion and get the job done more effectively. And more professionally.
Workshops or ideation sessions are common in the workplace. These are the spaces where ideas can be explored, prototyped, and developed – or thrown out. If you are going into a workshop, take time to think about why you are there, what it is you want to achieve, and what the overall objectives are. Again, this will help you concentrate on your goals and clarify your messages. Remember to be respectful to other participants and try not to interrupt – listening and reflecting on what you want and need to say will ensure you are clear in your own communication. Keep it crisp and get to the point you want to make. As you develop your reputation in the workplace, how you learn and evolve as well as contribute to the growth of the company will play into how you are perceived by others.
Conversations happen in the workplace all the time. Whether they are directly work-related or off-topic exchanges between fellow workers. So think about conversations as a direct function of getting your (collective) job done and also a way of building good and important relationships with colleagues.
Good verbal communication is built primarily on good listening skills – you need to understand what someone is telling you in order to respond appropriately. Do not be afraid to repeat what someone says to ensure you have understood, as well as making sure you are both thinking the same. Use language that conveys respect for the other person’s point of view, even if you disagree. Listening well is a vital part of being able to verbally communicate effectively.
As you communicate in the workplace, it is important you are respectful of your colleagues and keep professional in even the most casual of interactions.
Finally, try to be confident in the way that you communicate. Avoid making statements that might sound like questions – though you must be careful not to come across as arrogant or aggressive. Be assertive in what you say, while listening, and empathizing with others. Confidence in yourself and in what you say demonstrates that you believe in what you and will follow through.