CommunicationProject Management

9 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators

Effective speakers, whether talking to a couple friends or presenting to hundreds, seem to exude charisma. In a post at his blog, Bruce Harpham outlines nine ways project managers can become better communicators. He breaks it down into four skills for effective listening and five skills for presenting.

How Good Communicators Listen

  1. They listen with their body language.
  2. They listen to the words.
  3. They listen for emotion.
  4. They take notes.

Position your body toward the person talking to you and gesture with nods and the like to let the person know you are alive and listening. When you pay attention to the specific language people use, you can learn if they are team players (saying “we” in place of just “I”) or if they are detail-oriented (citing lots of facts and figures), among other things. Listening too for the emotion provides an extra layer of context that would be missing in an email. And when all else fails, the benefit of taking notes about what another person is saying forces you to pay attention, so that even if your brain is not processing every detail, your pen or keyboard will have caught the gist of it.

How Good Communicators Present

  1. They focus on the audience.
  2. They keep to their time limits.
  3. They study the best communicators.
  4. They know how to use visual aids.
  5. They prepare for each presentation.

In order to focus on the audience, you just need to know two things—what their preferred “language” is, (Bankers want “dollars and cents” talk.) and what problem the audience is facing. You will want to stick to agreed time limits both out of respect to the audience and because attention spans only stretch so thin. If you need more inspiration and examples for how to communicate, start studying speeches by history’s great speakers, like Winston Churchill. And about visual aids, Harpham writes:

Sometimes words alone are not enough to communicate your message. That’s when it is time to use visual aids. Martin Luther King Jr used architecture – the Lincoln Memorial – to support and enhance his famous [“I Have a Dream”] speech. What if you have to give a presentation in an office building that may not inspire you? Read Presentation Zen (the blog and the book) for advice on designing visually memorable presentations.

Then all that is left is to take care of preparative odds and ends, like arriving early to ensure AV equipment works, or practicing your presentation on a test audience. For more tips, you can read the original post here:

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