6 Commandments for Effective Communication Skills

Reports of social anxiety have ballooned to biblical proportions (pun intended, and acknowledged). Why are we so bold on an online message board and so shy in real life? When was the last time you looked your Starbucks barista in the eye?

We at SPEAK are here to help. We proudly present to you the 6 Commandments for effective communication skills with some science, some tough love, and of course, a sense of humor.

  1. Thou shalt not picture thy audience naked

What nut job came up with this pearl of wisdom anyway? It’s one thing if you’re talking to Kate Upton, but more often than not you’re talking to an Average Joe. There’s nothing wrong with Average Joe but we just met and we’re not quite ready for that mental picture.

The sentiment is what matters. The science behind picturing your audience naked is not only a way to alleviate your anxiety with a quick laugh, but also a reminder that your audience is human, just like you. Whether you’re ordering a cheeseburger or interviewing to be Google’s next CEO, you can relax a bit knowing that you’re talking to another human being. Well maybe not at Google. We heard they have robots.

  1. Thou shalt make eye contact

It can be daunting, but a gold star in the handbook for effective communication skills is maintaining eye contact. It assures your audience that you have their undivided attention and that you are picking up what they’re putting down.

Don’t panic, start with baby steps. Try it with your friends. You might be surprised to find out you haven’t been giving them 100%.

If you really can’t pull it off–

  1. Thou shalt fake eye contact

Here’s an old trade secret: if full eye contact still scares you more than Insidius 2, instead, focus your eyes on the space between the person’s eyes, right at the top of the bridge of their nose. Voila.

  1. Thou shalt know thy audience

You may be the foremost scholar on nuclear physics, but if you were booked to speak to a kindergarten class you might need to tweak your material. Being aware enough to consider who you’re talking to is a staple of effective communication skills.

  1. Thou shalt have confidence or fake it till thou makest it

Shoulders back and strut! If you need any help in this matter, hop over to YouTube and search “Beyoncé”. When Beyoncé is ready to communicate, her audience listens. She exudes confidence. For all we know, the minute she leaves stage she needs an hour alone to herself, but on stage, we see confidence for days. Go ahead. Be Beyoncé.

  1. Thou shalt listen (and not wait for their turn to talk)

There is a big difference between listening and waiting for your turn to talk. You might be hearing your best friend complain about their insensitive boyfriend for the 80th time, but make sure you are present and listening. Then when you have absorbed her story, iron out a game plan for her to leave that chump.

Our list of commandments is a good place to start. What are your commandments for effective communication skills?

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