In any job description, good communication skills are always a requirement. But what does that actually mean?
It’s hard to define what good communication is. If you really think about it, there are so many ways to communicate! For some, the fewer words the better. For others, graphic animation and a burst of colours help seal the deal. Sometimes, chunks of text work and other times, only images get through to your audience.
So how do you know whether you have good communication skills? If these five statements apply to you, you’re well on the right track.
Good communicators ensure they understand whatever it is they are planning on sharing, talking or writing about. Chewing and digesting the ideas and concepts in your mind (or on paper) before conversing will help you form a clear message for your audiences.
Practise by taking a few extra seconds to make sure you fully grasp what’s being asked before offering your opinion or writing out your answer. Put simply, think before you speak or write.
Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” There is much truth in the scientist and inventor’s words. Setting aside technical field speak which requires specific terms and jargon, people generally want a simple explanation.
Practise by taking a complicated news story or analysis piece and summarising it into as few and simple words as possible for your colleagues or friends. Remember, less can be more.
Today, communication is very different from what it was back then. It used to be mainly about speeches and written articles, but today we use images, sounds, texture, gestures, graphics, animation and interactive experiences more than ever. The digital age has transformed the way we communicate, and you need to dive in if you want your message to stay relevant.
Practise by trying to use different methods of communicating the same message. It could be a little charade followed by a drawing and if you’re software-savvy, a short animated graphic. Here’s a sample message for you to try, “The earth is melting because of global warming.”
A good communicator conveys a message with clarity, then sticks to it. Your idea is rarely all over the place, and ambiguity is not often part of the deal. Your message can easily get lost in cultural, social or linguistic translation, so it’s important to make sure you cater your message to your specific target audience.
Practise by choosing a personal story with a moral value and sharing it with different audiences. Your listeners should be from different language or cultural backgrounds. Take note of how you answer those seeking clarification or failing to understand ‘the point of the story’.
“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.”
If you’re hearing these questions often, it means you have some work to do to make yourself understood. Good communication is about strong, clear messages that don’t leave people guessing. Communication makes the world go round, and a good communicator rids the world of offence, inefficiency and misunderstandings.
At the end of the day, the important question to ask yourself is, “When I speak, write or present information, do my audiences really get what I’m trying to say?”
In the film world of heists and female power, communication can get you rich or in deep trouble. Read our movie review of Ocean’s 8 now!