Written on: 19 August 2021
Written by: Frances Hardcastle
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Communicating confidently doesn’t come naturally to everyone. We all have different communication styles and process information in different ways. However, with a bit of practice and a few simple tips, you can develop your communication techniques and feel more confident when speaking with others at work.
Even the most confident people can benefit from working on their communication style. Good communication is a two-way street, it involves clearly getting your message across through your speech or writing, but also listening to the views of others and reaching a common understanding of the task at hand.
Build these quick tips into your workplace conversations and start seeing results:
Before heading into a meeting, take a few minutes to read through any documents and have a think about what questions to ask, and what you need to come away with. If you’re presenting at a meeting, go through your talking points and consider what questions might come your way. If you’re properly prepared, you’ll be able to showcase your knowledge and expertise more effectively.
When talking, it’s better to keep things nice and focused. Ask yourself “what does my audience need to know?” and “what do I need from my audience?” Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they might need from you. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in explaining a process, when really all your manager needs to know is the outcome so that they can plan the next steps with you. Think about what your main points are – then stick to them.
There’s a lot of truth in the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it.” By presenting yourself as a confident person, you can really feel more confidence when you speak. Think about your posture, make eye contact with others, smile, and take the time to pause before you speak.
Think about someone you admire at work – perhaps a mentor or manager. How do they hold people’s attention when they communicate? Pay attention to the ways they present information, ask questions, or summarise actions in a meeting. You could even ask them for some pointers on how they do it – most people are happy to share their expertise.
In order to progress, you sometimes need to push yourself and go beyond your comfort zone. This can be a scary task, but it is the best way to grow confidence. You’ll be surprised at how quickly an activity that once felt impossible can become second nature with a little push.
Asking questions can clarify understanding, engage your audience, and show that you are listening to what others have to say. By asking focused questions, you can leave meetings knowing more about the topic and have a clear understanding of what your next steps will be.
When it comes to confidence, practice and experience make all the difference. For example, with public speaking, the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. If you’re delivering a presentation, you can practice your material beforehand. If you’re preparing for an interview or performance review, have a friend run through some potential questions with you so that you know what you might say.
Believing in yourself can make all the difference. Becoming more self-assured will boost your overall confidence. Confidence comes hand-in-hand with believing in your own skills, knowledge and ability. This will shine through when you communicate, so other people might not even realise you were nervous.
By working on your communication skills early in your career, you can pave the way for better relationships with colleagues, take part in more effective meetings, and share your successes more easily with your manager.
If you’re naturally quite shy, this doesn’t mean you need to change your personality, or become someone you’re not. Building strong communication skills helps you to get your point across quickly and successfully.
Developing this skill can also encourage people to listen to your ideas – even if your voice isn’t the loudest one in the room!