It is important to develop skills and techniques in the various categories of communication to make sure you are making positive impressions and building a strong reputation as a professional on and off-the-court. Here are some hints that can help you become a stronger communicator.
What you do before, during and after you speak can actually have a much bigger effect on how others perceive you than what we actually say. To make sure your non-verbal communication makes the right impression and sends the right message, be sure to:
- Present yourself appropriately
Whether you like it or not, people make judgments about you within the first ten seconds of meeting you – and those first impressions can be difficult to change. As such, present yourself in a way that makes a positive impression relative to the audience you are communicating with.
- Be conscious of your body language
Your posture, hand gestures and facial expressions have a lot to do with how confident and prepared you appear to be. Even if you are not fully confident in the situation, certain non-verbal actions can help cover that up, for example offering a firm handshake and sitting/standing straight up.
- Be a good listener
A major part of being a good communicator is being a good listener. To demonstrate that you are listening, nod your head and offer appropriate facial expressions when something you hear is interesting, surprising or humorous.
What you actually say is an important part of communicating. To be substantive and confident when you are communicating, make sure to:
- Know your audience
Knowing your audience will help you decide what messages you want to convey and verbal strategies for conveying them.
- Be aware of your speech patterns
As you communicate, take a quick moment to listen to yourself. By taking a second to assess your speech patterns, you can make any necessary corrections to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction and work toward a successful result.
- Read the audience
One of the best ways to determine if you are communicating effectively is to look at your audience and read their facial reactions and body language to see if they understand your messages.
- Ask for clarification
If you are not sure if you are speaking too fast or too quietly, don’t be afraid to ask your audience if they are understanding your messages.
- Active listening
Summarise and paraphrase the speaker’s points to confirm that you got their message right (e.g. “So, you said…”, “So, you would like to have…”, …). Active listening also proves to your counterparts that you are engaged in the conversation and that you are interested on what they are saying.
- Get feedback
Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to ask your audience for their feedback on how well you communicated.
Nowadays, with the development and the importance of online communication, including social media, you have more opportunities than ever to communicate with fans. However, remember that you are always under scrutiny, which makes it crucial to master your written skills. When communicating through writing, consider the following:
- Outline what you want to say
Even if you are writing a short note or email, having a general structure will ensure that you convey your ideas clearly. Make sure you know what your main point is and what your desired outcome is.
- Determine if writing is your best option
It is important to remember that anything you write can become an official record. Emails, posts on social media and other seemingly unimportant things you write can become significant at a later stage. As such, decide if writing anything down is absolutely necessary. As a basic rule, if you are not 100% sure, do not do it.
- Style matters
From a professional perspective, the way you convey yourself on paper, in email or on social media can affect first impressions. As such, be sure to use appropriate grammar, vocabulary and use of punctuation, especially in all business-related correspondence.
- Get feedback before you send anything
Depending on the importance of what you are writing, you will want to get the perspective of someone you trust and respect. This person can read the document to make sure it conveys a clear message and strikes the right tone for the intended audience.
- Confirm that your message was received
Once you send written communication, you want to make sure it was received by the intended audience. In business, it is appropriate to contact the intended recipient within a couple of days of sending it to make sure it was received.