Communication skills are crucial to a successful business. As an entrepreneur, you must be able to communicate efficiently and effectively to your business partners, employees, suppliers, and customers. Spoken language is a huge part of this, and if you want to earn the respect and cooperation of your teammates you need to be able unite them through communication. There are some common speaking strategies that effective leaders use.
Assume that nobody is an expert in what you are talking about and that you will need to simplify your language. Use vocabulary that is easy to follow. This is not dumbing down your ideas. Rather, think of it as removing all the extra fluff that nobody needs. When you are able to simply present your ideas, it is easier for people to latch onto them. As you build trust in your ideas, you can delve into the specifics and details later as people are ready for them.
Know what you are going to say beforehand
Whenever possible, plan what you are going to say beforehand. This is especially important for speeches and other presentations for which you have advance notice. Do your research beforehand so you have facts and evidence ready to support your ideas. Try to keep yourself informed of the latest news and concepts in your industry. Stay up-to-date on all the current projects in your company. The better informed you are in general about the status of your enterprise, the easier it will be to speak with authority when you have unplanned conversations about your business.
Do not sound like a robot
While it is important to be informed about your business and to have an idea of what you are going to say whenever possible (see above), it is important to not slip into the other extreme. Over-rehearsing for a speech or presentation can cause you to sound like a robot and will make you seem unengaged in what you are saying. Practice so that you are confident and prepared, but make sure to speak with the passion that got you into the business in the first place.
Engage your audience
The actual words that you say are only part of what it means to speak like a leader. How you are speaking is just as important, and sometimes more so. Be aware of your body language. Use gestures in an appropriate way. Keep your audience engaged by using strategies to keep them invested in the conversation. This might be inviting others to speak, asking questions, or using other ways for the audience – whether it is a one-on-one conversation, small group, or large group – to participate. People are drawn to speakers who keep them interested. Consider using a storytelling narrative to convey a complicated idea. Narratives have been a crucial part of human civilization since its inception, and blending stories into your presentations can help make you, and your ideas, more relevant and relatable to your audience.
Practice speaking as much as possible
Like anything else, practicing will build your skills as a speaker. Take opportunities to speak to others whenever possible, in a variety of situations and on a variety of topics. The more you practice your speaking skills, the easier it will be for you to improvise and develop your strengths while working on your weaknesses. Whatever type of speaking is most daunting to you (for some it is speaking in front of a group, for others it is making small talk with someone new), go out and find low-risk opportunities to develop yourself. Offer to speak at a homeowner’s association meeting to get over your fear of large groups, or challenge yourself to make small talk with one new stranger each day. These practices will help you become a better speaker in all settings.
By paying attention to your speaking style and being honest with yourself regarding your strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to make yourself a better speaker. Put these strategies into practice on a regular basis and you will be better able to communicate your ideas clearly and confidently and connect with your audience. Good speaking skills will help you become a better leader and entrepreneur.
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