How to master the art of effective communication

The internet, mobile devices and social media have changed the way people communicate. Face-to-face and phone conversations have largely given way to video conferencing and text messaging. Communication involves the exchange of information, which may seem simple, but it is anything but in a world where there are so many ways to share and access information.

Individuals who wish to become more effective communicators must adapt their teaching according to the communication method used. Someone who is a master at composing and distributing an email can fail when asked to speak in front of a crowd in a meeting, and vice versa. Nevertheless, there are some general rules that apply to different types of communication.

Listen before you speak is a good tip to follow. Effective communication requires good listening, according to Harvard University professionals. Active listening is an underestimated skill. Once you learn it, you can learn about the other speakers and craft answers and questions accordingly based on the information you’ve gathered.

Tailor your message to the target audience. For example, you wouldn’t use the same vocabulary for a group of kindergarten kids as you would for a class of college students. Match your message, your words and your energy to the recipients of your words.

Think about why you are trying to get a message across. They can be there to inspire or to provide support. Maybe your goal is to stand up for a cause. When you know your goal, you can craft a consistent and clear message.

Accept the brevity. People tend to be pressed for time. And if tweets and texts have taught us anything, sometimes it’s best to keep communications brief so they’re most effective. Busy people won’t want to sift through paragraphs of text or listen to hours of talking. Therefore, learn to edit what you have to say to get to the point and make it stick.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so try to use this concept when developing your messages. Choose lively verbs and use descriptive language to ensure your message is memorable. Avoid using too much idiom, especially when communicating with a diverse audience. A saying that is well known to you may not be as well received by someone from a different background.

It’s easy to send a group message or go on social media and reach a wide audience. But there is a time and a place for different methods of communication. Sending condolences via text can be considered insincere, while a handwritten card is more welcome. Critical communication with employees is best done face-to-face rather than via email.

Communicating doesn’t come easy for everyone, but there are ways to improve skills and master the art of communicating effectively.

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