I’m going to share with you a very simple exercise to improve communication skills for speaking with people in person – without embarrassment. This is a way of improving your ability to communicate face-to-face with someone, without practicing on a real person until you feel completely ready and comfortable. It will help with not only developing effective communication, but it will also help you to know what to say and how to say it.
The quest to improve communication skills means different things to different people. Since we communicate in many different ways, and the goals of communication vary widely – from getting information across, to convincing someone to think or act a certain way, to being understood – the solutions to how to improve communication skills will depend on the method and goal of communication of course.
The important thing about learning anything new is to keep practicing. Like all new abilities, working to improve communication skills takes practice and perseverance, but the great news about this method is that there’s no involving anyone else until you feel confident and secure. You don’t have to practice on other people until you feel completely ready.
So, here’s how to improve communication skills painlessly:
1. Find an advertisement in your local paper, a magazine or even those leaflets you find in your mailbox (now you can put that junk mail to good use!).
2. Read the text out loud to yourself, and describe the images you’re looking at. This may well feel silly at first (most of us feel silly reading or speaking out loud when we’re alone), but how much do you want to learn how to improve your communication skills? ;) If you’re really serious about it, you’ll persevere; and after you’ve done this step once, you’ll find it just gets easier and easier!
3. Now decide how you feel about the ad. Does it interest you? Do you believe its claims? Do you find it boring? Is it a product or service you think you could use, or is it something you’d never need? Has the company done a good job of selling their product or service? Answer all of these questions with just a “yes”, “no” or other short answers to begin with if necessary, and then try expanding on your reasons for answering positively or negatively. Remember to do all of this out loud – no-one can hear you so it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it.
4. Next, find a close-up photo of someone's face in a magazine or newspaper (or even the author photo on the back of a book), and tell that “person” what the ad is for. What is the ad selling? Next, tell them what you think of the ad – pretty much what you’ve said to yourself in step 3, but address it to the “person” in the picture. After you’ve become used to this process, see if you can look the person in the eyes while you speak. Looking someone in the eyes when you talk to them is a vital part of effective communication. Practicing with a photo is a “safe” way to improve this skill.
5. Once you’re comfortable with step 4, use a photo of someone you know. You can look at them just “generally” to begin with, and then practice speaking to them while looking them in the eyes.
Practice To develop really effective communication, do this exercise as much as you can – at least once a day. It really does get easier and easier, and by the time you feel comfortable doing this, your communication skills will have already improved dramatically – before you even speak to a “live” person!
More ways to improve communication skills - taking it further: You can also practice variations – practice convincing the person to buy the product or service advertised, and then practice (using the same ad) convincing them not to buy it. This will get your brain thinking “outside the box” and you’ll amaze yourself at how good you are, and the points you come up with!
Most importantly: Enjoy the process! Find humour in what you’re doing, find yourself funny – there’s no-one around to judge so have some fun with it. Get silly, amuse yourself. The more you enjoy learning how to improve communication skills the more relaxed you’ll be, and the faster you’ll progress and succeed. For more tips, exercises and tools to help improve your communication skills visit How to Improve Communication Skills
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