To master communication in a digital world, you need to challenge yourself to improve the art of speaking
Bad speaking habits develop over time. Equally, good speaking starts by taking simple, consistent actions.
Take this 10-day speaking challenge. Each day, fully embrace the challenge for the day. This challenge is cumulative. So, the challenge for Day 3, say, also needs to be applied with what you learnt from Days 1 and 2. At the end of the 10-day challenge, reflect on your learnings and repeat the 10-day challenge until you master these foundational activities for impactful communication.
- Day 1: Eliminate crutch words − Filler words or crutch words such as ‘like’, ‘erm’ and ‘so are distracting to your message and your audience. Your challenge for Day 1 is to reduce or eliminate crutch words.
- Day 2: Eye contact − In face-to-face conversations, hold eye contact with the person you are speaking to. For online meetings, look at the lens of the device. Listen and absorb information such as their tonality, pace, gestures and movement. Digest the full communication and not just the words or slide content.
- Day 3: Gestures − If you have a habit of speaking with your hands (I call it ‘DJ hands’), today focus on controlling your hand gestures. Use gestures that make sense to demonstrate or align with your content.
- Day 4: Confidence − This is known as ‘clothed cognition’. When you dress up in a way that makes you feel confident, you look and feel different. Today, take extra care with your choice of wardrobe and dress up for success!
- Day 5: Manage your energy levels − Eat food items that will sustain and give you energy rather than drain your energy. Eliminate or reduce tea, coffee, sugar and starchy foods. Replace with water, fruit, nuts and healthier alternatives.
- Day 6: Speak up − Do you have an idea to share? Is there a person you have been avoiding giving feedback to? Is there a meeting that you can volunteer to speak at? It is time for you to take action and speak up!
- Day 7: Incorporate stories − Trust is built around people knowing who you are. Credibility is gained when you share stories of your experience and the people you have helped with your expertise. Today, start sharing those stories!
- Day 8: Elaborate on your points − You will have more influence if you can do two things with each point that you share. First, support your point with facts, figures, research and statistics. Then illustrate that same point with a diagram, video, demonstration or a story.
- Day 9: Connection and presence − Your objective is to be relatable and conversational. Your goal is to earn trust and credibility. Today, in face-to-face meetings be fully present and put your camera on for online meetings. Focus on the person. No checking emails on the side, avoid thinking of what you need to do next and avoid sneaking a look at your cell phone.
- Day 10: Serve more. Use your position to think about how you can serve and make an impact on your business unit, your business, your clients and society. Your skills and experience give you the potential to influence. Success is driven by being able to communicate your ideas and vision to others.