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 (see also: Professionalism).
- 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.
- 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 before 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 later on. As such, decide if writing anything down is absolutely necessary.
- 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.