The Secret to Being a Natural Communicator: Plan, Prepare, Practice
I have found a flexible, conscious approach to communication essential for successful career management. All of us have accepted the demands of our indirect communication world: email, Internet, intranet, fax, answering machines, palm pilots, even video conferencing. How many of us wish we'd taken that typing class back in high school? Nevertheless, we have learned how to match the right technology with what needs to get done.
As coaches and people of influence we must continuously stress the need for our clients to learn new and flexible ways of expressing themselves when speaking with others. Whether it is interpersonal communication or formal presentations, no two speaking environments are the same. All have their own conventions, challenges, and yes, mysteries. There's nothing like the self-confidence that goes along with knowing you can communicate effectively in any situation.
The First Ninety Seconds
8:30 Tuesday morning, a tall, well dressed woman in her late 30s stepped through the door of my office, confidence glowed from her face, her intelligent brown eyes making comfortable contact with mine. The frames of her glasses highlighted her light brown hair and complimented the shape of her face, revealing a sense of subtle personal style. Hand extended, a resonant, well articulated voice announced "Elizabeth Pierce, it's very good to meet you, I've been looking forward to our discussion."
She moved decisively to the chair, following my gesture to take a seat. "Thank you for seeing me this morning" pausing to make certain I was comfortable. "It's my pleasure," I said. "What can I do for you?" She continued, "I'd like to get an idea of how you think I can be most effective in talking to a rather particular audience."
Elizabeth's voice, crisp, words well articulated let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she was enthusiastic about her challenge. For the next 25 minutes we talked about a strategy for making certain her audience's expectations were met; while insuring her message remained true to her convictions.
When Ms. Pierce first appeared walking into my office, making comfortable eye contact, shaking my hand and saying hello with energy, I had already made a very personal, positive evaluation of her credibility and I wasn't even aware I had done so.
Three Elements You Can Control
Effective, person-to-person communication has three clear components. The look and...