If you're a compelling and confident speaker, people assume you're good at other things too. If you're a great speaker, people assume you're a magnanimous leader, a brilliant strategic thinker, a trustworthy advisor, a pragmatic financial manager, a charismatic, and friendly person. The act of speaking clearly and confidently in any context—from conferences to status meetings to impromptu hallway conversations—signals that you have competence in a variety of areas.
The good news is that anyone can access the power of speaking as a signal skill. You don’t need to go back to school, take an online course or spend an unwieldy 10,000 hours to improve your ability to speak well and communicate effectively. It is a learned skill that takes hours, not years, to improve. A few small changes to how you prepare, frame, and deliver your communication will make a big difference in how people perceive you and how quickly you’re able to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Here are three strategies that can help you communicate and connect more effectively with your team and leadership peers:
1. Focus on your audience first.
Many leaders think communication with the people around them is all about what they needed to share. This is an incredibly common mistake. If you want to be a great speaker, your content needs to be about your audience and what they need to hear. If you start thinking about what your audiences need, your communication will get a lot more relevant and meaningful—and more human.
2. Bridge the gap with personal stories.
Start using more metaphors and analogies and sharing more of yourself in status meetings and casual conversations. You may try giving examples, anecdotes, and personal stories. It may feel forced at first, but as you become more comfortable and you see your team respond so positively, you will see firsthand that sometimes it’s the squishy stuff that sparks people to move mountains.
3. Talk like a person, not an expert.
We usually have the tendency to use fancy words and a lot of technical jargon when talking to the team, vendor partners, and/or leadership colleagues. We may not try to show off—we just has a rich vocabulary and deep expertise leading to defaulting to technical language and acronyms when talking to people. Consequently, others may think we are just arrogant and condescending. The perceived coldness comes with a cost.
I encourage you to reflect on your own speaking and communication skills and consider the signal you might be sending out. What might shift and improve for you and your business if you took your presentation skills to the next level?
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This article also appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.