Most, if not all of us, will be painfully aware of that mortifying terror we experienced when the teacher would call us to the front of the class to deliver a presentation. The sweaty hands, the beads of perspiration, the shaky legs and the weak knees; these were the telltale signs of our overwhelming dread. At that moment, we all wished we could be anywhere but there.

Unfortunately, many of us got stuck in that rut and never broke free. That same dread accompanied us through our adolescence and into our adult years. Walking to job interviews remains the stuff of nightmares for the majority of our youth even today.

It is crucial that you take the time away from your busy academic schedules and office work, and try to improve your communication skills because believe it or not, the opportunity will once again arise where you will be at the mercy of this skill.

Here are a few tips which you may find useful in this venture.

LISTENING

We cannot stress this enough. Communication is a two way street. You cannot be a good speaker if you don’t know how to listen.

This becomes particularly important in a business venture of any kind. In order to establish an effective dialogue with a potential customer, you have to be an adept listener. This will make you aware of their needs and interests and thereby allow you to sell them exactly what they need.

Ever heard the phrase “The customer is always right”. It doesn’t necessarily mean what many of us think it means. The essence of this phrase is to let entrepreneurs know the worth of listening. You have to pay enough attention to their grievances and problems so that the customers believe they are right.

It makes them feel important and valued. Any customer that feels valued while interacting with your organization is more likely to purchase from you.

It’s not just about business ventures though. Listening intently in a manner that leaves no room for misinterpretation, having a good ear for small details, and to effectively pass on that information to others is a skill that is valued in many other organizations; For example, The Military.

In the Army, half the time the order will be barked at you. It’s part of their training regimen. Thus you will have to develop your listening skills to the point where you can contain and relay all that information even if you’re half asleep.

SPEAKING

This is the part we all dread. The constant fear of being interjected, interrupted or ridiculed. Well, we are here to tell you that it’s okay if you stumble, and it’s understandable if you fall. That is how you learn and that is how you become better.

There are a few key points you must keep in mind for this part:

PROFESSIONAL TONE

The words are important; but some would argue that the tone of delivery is even more important. There is an informal tone which we use with our friends and family. It includes a lot of slang, half formed sentences and often a blend of mild vulgarity.

None of that is going to fly in a professional setting. Your surroundings and the kind of people you’re communicating with should be the primary concern when you’re deciding on the tone or the type of language you use.

This is not as easy as it sounds. Our subconscious becomes wired to speak a certain way and the only way to break the cycle is to consistently practice speaking in a professional tone. The right words will not be able to find its way to your tongue if you haven’t practiced.

BODY LANGUAGE

Experts speculate, that a large percentage of the efficacy of communication skills comes from the body language of the person who is speaking.

Your words may be top-notch, the grammar precise, the information detailed and accurate, but if your body language does not keep up, your presentation is going to fall flat.

What does the phrase “body language” signify?

Body language refers to the aspects of communication which accompany the words but are not the words themselves. The way you stand, the manner of speaking, the pitch of your voice, eye contact, the passion with which you speak, the confidence and any physical movements that accompany it; all of this constitutes “body language”.

This is the part that really seals the deal.

You may be speaking complete nonsense, but if you say it with enough conviction, even you will start to believe it. Now, we are not suggesting you do that. We are simply stating the power of body language and how much it boosts your communication skills.

AVOID REDUNDANCY

Some people are like a walking thesaurus: They think big words are what impress people. They don’t. Big words simply irk people who are trying too hard to understand what you’re trying to say and they are likely to give up if it proves too hard for them.

In simplicity lies the key. This is beneficial for both you and the person you’re conversing with. You won’t have to spend an outrageous amount of effort on trying to use big, fancy words and the person you’re talking to will easily be able to grasp your message.

We are not averse to attractive words but there is a time and a place for using them. Every word in the English Dictionary has its own appropriate place. A place where the word adds to the quality of the dialogue rather than detract from it.

MAINTAIN CONSISTENCY

Nervous people have a habit of rattling off at a speed of three hundred miles per hour, which, needless to say, is not a good way to establish a dialogue, or deliver a presentation or a speech.

You must learn how to breathe properly at intervals, take appropriate pauses and let audiences reflect on what you have said before proceeding further.

The periods of silence are just as important as the moments of speaking: It helps the listeners retain information and doesn’t annoy people.

CONCLUSION

Nobody becomes an eloquent orator overnight. It takes years of practice, making a million mistakes and using every mistake as an opportunity to learn.

The application of these tips in real life can seem like a daunting task, at first. However, one day you will be thankful you had the courage to at least try and make these mistakes, so that tomorrow you won’t have to suffer the same.