Some people have an innate ability to command a room. They know how to get their point across in a group without barking orders or dominating the conversation—they are good at talking and listening.
But good communication skills don’t grow overnight; good communication takes planning, preparation and consistent practice. So, we asked the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) for their 9 best tips to be better at communicating. Which one will you try first?
1. Give a valuable takeaway.
Whether you’re giving a talk or participating in a group discussion, decide on one thing that will really deliver value—an actionable item that people can walk away with. This is especially important when we have to speak up to critique or correct an idea that’s going around, because when you’re not adding value, it’s no longer constructive criticism; it’s just dissenting.
—Nathalie Lussier, AccessAlly
2. Be a good listener.
Being a good listener is key. Don’t go in with the sole objective to just speak. As the conversation goes on, listen and respond, incorporating your points into the response. People are more willing to listen if they believe they’re being listened to.
—Alex Lorton, Cater2.me
3. Pick an opportune time to speak.
The best way to ensure your voice is heard in a group is to pick your spots, meaning find a gap within the conversation to speak, no matter how many people are involved. By selecting the most opportune time to speak, you can ensure that you have the attention of the group and can get your entire message across without being interrupted.
—Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc.
4. Be the unifying voice.
Discussions can often drag on and turn circular. By stepping in and first unifying all the best thoughts, you get people to calm down. Once they’ve calmed down, you can insert your point and it will resonate with people. The more influential people are, the more important this becomes.
—Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group
5. Keep your responses succinct.
Keep it simple when responding in groups. This shows you have respect for others’ time. A long, drawn-out answer to a question is not only inconsiderate, but you lose their interest in what you have to say. Short, snappy answers that get right to the heart of the issue will help get your point across—and be remembered in the process.
—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
6. Don’t be the person who needs to comment on everything.
You’ll be respected more in a group if you have a reputation for kicking in only when you have something important to say. It’s easy to tune out the people who make some reflex comment on almost any situation, but someone who rarely talks usually catches attention when they have something to say.
—Matt Doyle, Excel Builders
7. Cut the fluff.
When speaking in a group, you need to make the most of the small amount of time you are given to speak. This means you need to get straight to the point. In a group setting, anyone who is long-winded will lose the attention of the group and slow the progress of the conversation. Always cut the fluff.
—Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID Inc.
8. Prepare ahead of time.
Public speaking is hard for anyone, and most of us don’t communicate on the fly as well as we’d like. You are much more likely to provide a strong and memorable contribution if you take the time to sort out your points and practice them first. The difference is noticeable. Think closely about what you’re trying to communicate and how that could best and most briefly be said.
—Adam Steele, Loganix
Be positive. If you smile and nod along as other people speak, they will be positive about opening up and letting you speak as well. If they see that you aren’t listening to them, but are impatiently waiting for your turn to speak instead, they won’t pay you any respect.
—Yoav Vilner, Walnut.io
This article was published in September 2016 and has been updated. Photo by SDI Productions/IStock