​​Be Your Best Communicator

​​Be Your Best Communicator
The most important step in being the best communicator is to start off with the main point, and then fill in the details as needed. (Fei Meng)
Learning how to be your best communicator, whether in written or verbal form, is an art form that requires practice and effort to master. These simple tips can help you become an effective communicator.

Be Direct and Approachable

The most important step in being the best communicator is getting to the point. It can be confusing if you offer a long preamble, often causing your listener(s) to tune you out. Start off with the main point you want to make, and then you can fill in the details.

No matter if you’re writing a letter, an email, or a text or talking, nobody wants to be lectured. Using a friendly tone creates an atmosphere in which your audience is eager and receptive to hearing your thoughts.

When writing, use a spell-checker every time! Misspelled words make a bad impression on the reader.

Choose Your Words

Some people try to fake communication skills by using big words, but unless they truly understand the meaning of their words and how they’re meant to be used, they end up looking silly. Use simple, clear words to deliver a concise, easily understood message.
On a related note, break the habit of using fill-in phrases such as “you know” that undo any credibility you’ve built up to that point in the conversation. It’s OK to pause while collecting your thoughts rather than torpedo what you were saying. Likewise, avoid using terms such as “whatchacallit” or “that thing” when you forget the actual name of what you’re attempting to describe.

Look Them in the Eye

To be your best communicator, you need to connect with whoever you’re talking or writing to. When having an in-person conversation, make and maintain eye contact, but be careful to not make it a who blinks first contest! Eye contact reassures others that they’re important to you.
If you’re making a speech, scan the crowd to find the “friendly eyes” and talk to them with a smile in your voice. Pay attention to how your audience—be it one person or 100 people—is reacting to what you say. In written communications, if you know the person, keep the tone friendly.

Actively Listen

A key factor in being an effective communicator is knowing your audience, which requires actively listening to them or, when communicating in writing, taking the time to discover what their concerns or interests may be. Most people attribute good communication skills to those who give them their undivided attention and who discuss issues that they feel are important.

Unless you’re giving a speech, don’t dominate the conversation. Let others talk, too, and really listen to what they say, rather than just thinking about what you'll say next.

In addition to being good manners, asking for feedback lets you know when you have or haven’t made your point.

Get Your Facts Right

The most effective communicators have a good grasp of the topic they’re discussing or writing about. There are few more effective ways to shred your credibility and lose an audience than to pretend to be an expert on or even be fairly familiar with a topic that you simply don’t understand.

Being passionate about something isn’t a substitute for actual knowledge. It’s just as important to have the facts right and know the current status of whatever you’re talking or writing about; if you aren’t aware of major changes, you end up looking silly.

Sandy Lindsey is an award-winning writer who covers home, gardening, DIY projects, pets, and boating. She has two books with McGraw-Hill.