I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.
For key tips on each element, see the three-part series. Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2
Characteristic three: Confident communication skills
One way of building credibility is being able to clearly articulate your views within a group situation. Below are six key components that will help you succeed in doing this:
- Preparation and progress
Prepare before going into a meeting. Know what the key points are that you want to make and actively listen for the correct time to contribute
Know what you want to achieve before you begin
Always ensure action points are taken and verbalised to the group – to ensure everyone is on the same page. If no actions are taken – then why are you meeting?
Acknowledge other people’s contributions. This will build comradery, team spirit and motivation.
- Separate yourself from the product
This is a great skill to possess! In order to improve a product or service, it is important that it adequately meets the needs of the intended audience. In order for that to occur the feedback of others is crucial.
It’s essential that you don’t take that feedback personally. No person or product is perfect. Because everyone is different, others can add additional and alternative elements that could improve the product or service. It’s not imperative to take all feedback on-board– just make sure that the feedback is taken on appreciatively.
- Effective communication is enhanced by active listening
Active listening helps us learn more before coming to conclusions. Its importance cannot be underestimated.
- Be heard and understood
Your stance and tone can make a huge difference when communicating effectively. Never slouch or mumble. If you are scared in anyway – it’s important that you take a moment to JUST SLOW DOWN. Slow down your speech, slow down your breathing, and let this ‘slowness’ steady your mind. So that you can clearly articulate your points. Depending on the situation, you may need to repeat your point in different ways in different meetings, but the important part is that you ARE contributing.
there is no point in complaining after the meeting if you are not happy with the outcome if you have not spoken up when you had a chance to. Don’t quietly tell a colleague sitting next to you your viewpoint. Have confidence to share your thoughts with the wider group.
- Communication effectiveness is enhanced by how to develop your documents
Ensure documents are simple and to the point.