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July 16, 2012
Don't Be a Boring Communicator
 
The way we communicate may be a reflection of how we observe others. You’ve been there before: You’re participating in a meeting or face-to-face conversation and daydreaming because the individual who is speaking…is boring. When it’s your turn to contribute to the conversation, you do exactly the same things you didn’t like. You read to your notes, handouts, and PowerPoint slides, you take too long to get to the point, and non-words are falling out of you like bombs (uh, um, like, you know, so, and, but …). 
 
Sound familiar?
 
Jim Rohn, America’s foremost business philosopher, states, “With success follows clues.” You can learn how to be more influential by watching others. Simply put, don’t follow individuals who are boring communicators. Examine and evaluate how an influential communicator communicates. The following strategies will help you with this process.
  • Watch how they engage and stay connected with their listener.
  • Listen to the inflection in their voice and the words they emphasize. Are their words consistent with what their listener is saying?
  • Listen to where they insert their pauses and the varying length of their pauses.
  • Watch how they move throughout the room if they’re standing while they’re delivering their message. When do they lean or step forward? Where are they standing when they communicate their big ideas?
  • How do they use their gestures to pull you into their message?
  • How do they make their message stick? Are their sentences clear, concise, and to the point? Does their non-verbal language pull you in and entice you to keep listening?
  • How do they invite participation? Are they asking questions? What type of questions are they asking?  How do they weave stories, examples, quotes, and analogies in throughout their talk?
An influential communicator pays close attention to communicating a message that’s consistent with how they deliver. They pay close attention to what’s happening between them and their listener, which allows them to leverage all of these strategies throughout their message. When they communicate their big idea, they communicate their passion through their facial expressions, inflection, and a gesture that has purpose. You will not see someone at this caliber say they believe their approach is the best approach with a frown, monotone voice, no pauses, and clasped hands. 
 
Prior to delivering a message, identify how your impact and influence can be enhanced when you practice one to three strategies. What words can you emphasize or speak with a louder volume? What gesture most accurately emphasizes your point without falling into the trap of distracting your listeners with too much movement?
 
During your conversations, pay close attention to the one to three strategies you practiced. Be flexible about adapting your delivery to what your listener wants. Do you need to pause longer to grab their attention? Are you gesturing or moving too often?
 
Immediately following your conversation, take five minutes to give yourself feedback. Identify what worked, what didn’t work, and what you want to change. Make the commitment to yourself that you will take action on the feedback you gave yourself. 
 
Enhancing your communication skills takes focus and hard work. You don’t need to accomplish this alone. Learn from those who have mastered this art.

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Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc communication. In her book Yes You Can! she reveals practical and immediate skills and techniques to enhance verbal skills to influence others. Stacey helps individuals eliminate the static that plagues communicative delivery to persuade, sell, influence, and effectively communicate face-to-face with a clear message. Learn more about Stacey at www.staceyhankeinc.com.
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