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Speak Up at Work
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Speak Up and Be Heard

Think about communications you have had in the past that went well – with family members, friends, coworkers, supervisors, or customers. What made these interactions successful? You probably demonstrated some or all of these characteristics of successful communication.

  • You were confident when you spoke.You displayed your knowledge and were certain of what you said. This made you sound assertive and feel confident.
  • You focused on your audience. Whether you were speaking to a group or just one person, you monitored your listeners to ensure you were being understood and that you understood them. You spoke at the right pace and created rapport. 
  • You read their body language. Your listeners provided feedback about the success of your communication. By paying attention to this feedback, you were able to change what you were saying and how you were saying it to help the audience understand your message.
  • You used the right tone. You were positive and enthusiastic so that your listeners enjoyed listening to you.

Here are some tips to help you strengthen each of these areas so that every communication is successful.

1.    Confidence

Confidence comes from being secure in your knowledge and expertise. While learning from mistakes is important, putting too much focus on them is harmful and undermines your confidence. 

Before you have to speak, remembering past accomplishments can bolster your courage. Give yourself credit for what you know and have learned in your career. Affirm that you have the ability to handle this communication and be successful. 

Sit or stand with an upright, but relaxed posture. Slumping conveys uncertainty and uneasiness. It’s also unprofessional. 

2.    Audience Focus

One of the highest compliments you can give someone is giving your full attention to them.  The more you focus on your listeners, the easier it is to communicate effectively because you can monitor their responses and make adjustments as needed. Also, when you focus on them, you put them at ease. This makes communication easier because they feel comfortable with you and subconsciously trust what you are saying. 

3.    Body Language

Watch body language to see if your audience is communicating openness and receptiveness or are closing themselves off. Generally, folded arms, leaning away from you, and not making good eye contact signal rejection of what you are saying. On the other hand, open posture, slightly leaning toward you, and good eye contact mean the person is listening and accepting your message. 

Be aware of your own body language, too. Keep your posture open and inviting. Use good eye contact and smile. 

4.    Tone

Your tone of voice conveys many things to your listener. Take a deep breath to put more power in your voice and speak slower since some people take longer to process what they hear. Use simple, positive words and short, easy-to-follow sentences. Modulate your voice to add interest to what they are hearing.

Good oral communication skills are necessary if you want rewarding relationships and a successful career. Some of us are naturally good speakers—we are comfortable speaking up at meetings, delivering presentations, and answering questions. Just know that if you find oral communication a challenge, you can become a better communicator.