If you find that people are not responding to your words as well as you would like, it may have something to do with your delivery. Effective communication is the cornerstone of any professional or interpersonal relationship. If you think about it, the meaning of your message comes down to the interpretation, not your intent. If you want to master the art of successful interaction, there are some strategies you can practice to help you along the way.
To analyze your communicative style, start by looking at your verbal skills. When you transmit your message to your audience, it can be through a presentation, a speech or just a conversation. Your verbal communication can have a significant effect on how well your audience understands you. It can also determine whether your audience believes in what you are saying. Verbal communication consists of the sound of your voice, your accent, your tone and the words you use. To select the proper way to relay your message, you must first understand your audience. For example, if you are speaking at a coal miners conference, you wouldn't want to use a high squeaky voice with a British accent and very formal language. Regardless of what your message is, it probably will be dismissed before it is even heard.
Another element of effective communication is nonverbal skills. These quiet cues include eye contact, body language, facial expressions, how close you are standing and any other outward signs such as sweating, yawning or shaking. To get the most out of your nonverbal language, try sitting so that you are facing your receiver and make direct eye contact. Don't fidget or make distracting movements. Utilize a proximity limit on the basis of where your audience is from. For example, Americans are most comfortable when there is at least 5 feet of space between themselves and a stranger, while Europeans feel quite natural at less than 2 feet. Sit with your back straight and try to relax. Then deliver your message using your verbal communicative skills.
Finally, one of the most important elements of effective communication is one that is often neglected. This element is feedback. Feedback is essential for composing a successful message. Allowing an opportunity for your audience to provide you with open feedback after you have made your point can help you see where the strengths and weaknesses of your communication methods are. This information can help you properly modify your message so that it can more effectively be presented. This feedback provided after the message is delivered is what makes communication a neverending, circular flow of ideas and information.
Diane Todd holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from North Carolina State University and is a former video and web producer for a North Carolina multimedia agency. She also spent several years as a media specialist/graphics designer for the Cumberland County school system in Fayetteville, N.C.