how to be a great communicator

Being a Great Communicator can be Rocket Science and It’s Okay

It’s crazy how many people think they’re unique when it comes to their communication skills. Granted, each individual is unique in millions of ways. But not when it comes to communicating with others.

We all suffer from the same speech & communication problems; the vast majority share the same emotions. But each client describes their speech issues as if they’re the only one who has them.

We all have trouble being concise, we all use too many filler words sometimes and occasionally have to work to articulate our thoughts into words. We have trouble making small talk and we really want people to like us

That is until we learn the techniques! Then we’re smooth as silk in all those communicative situations and more 🙂 

Read on to learn how!

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Speech-Language Pathology School, It’s a Thing

After I finished grad school for Speech-Language Pathology, my friends were getting jobs in their chosen careers. Many of them would come to me privately, individually, and complain that their message wasn’t getting across. 

So many times I heard, “I have something to say in the morning meeting, but when I open my mouth, it doesn’t come out right.” 

The other one that crushed me was when my friends said, “I have good ideas, but I just keep my mouth shut. Nothing comes out.”

At first, I thought, why are all of these people coming to me? I can’t help them speak their minds! 

But I drew upon my school training. I realized we could help the average communicator become incredible using the same techniques I learned in school.

Thus, speech improvement is available to you! 

How to Be a Great Communicator

So I set up shop at Barnes & Noble. It was the 90s, don’t judge! And I read book after book, bought the ones chock-full-of-info, and took notes from the ones where I gleaned only a bit. (Sorry!)

Then I hung out my shingle. I loved working with kids, but tons of Speech-Language Pathologists helped the folks who need to reach normal limits. There was relatively NO ONE providing speech improvement to the regular people dealing with the challenging communicative situations that we face in our daily lives.

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Why am I not a great communicator?

For the past 23 years, I’ve been hearing versions of my friends’ confessions all that time ago. The crazy part that I can’t understand is, why is this all under wraps? Why is it still a secret that people aren’t supposed to be incredible communicators without some training?

how to be a great communicator

Firstly, you didn’t learn communication skills in school. They taght you reading ‘riting & ‘rithmatic. But not how to be a great communicator. Not even how to be a good communicator.

Secondly, your genetics are against you. Your body goes into fight or flight when you speak in a meeting or any time there are high-stakes. Dang, some of my clients don’t like saying their names at the Starbucks counter. 

Thirdly, our society shames us for not being good communicators and the people that go out of their way to learn the techniques and become superior communicators? Well they don’t tell you that they did it!

What great communicators know that you don't.

Let me tell you a real secret. The way your brain processes information is significantly different from the way you convey information. There are different processes involved. Your brain provides you with brilliant passageways for you to understand challenging concepts. But the system for delivering that information to others is quite different.

I’m going to say that again: Formulating your ideas is easy. Articulating those ideas to others is where the challenge lies.

Once you learn the steps to becoming an incredible communicator, you become the rocket scientist, and everything becomes easy for you. For example, 

Camilla came to me reporting that she wasn’t as engaging as she’d like to be in meetings. That her voice seemed “small” and people didn’t respond well to her ideas.

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How to be a great communicator

  1. Have executive presence.
  2. Use concise speech.
  3. Learn and practice articulating your thoughts into words.
  4. Be influential & kind.
  5. Learn to be a great conversationalist.
  6. Have confidence.

You know I’m not going to leave you hanging as most people do. They say, “have executive presence!” “tell a good story!” “Be confident!”

I’m going to tell you how to be a great communicator with actionable steps!

You can have executive presence. Being concise is one of the most important things you can do if you want to be an influential, supreme communicator.

You are not the only one who needs to learn to articulate your thoughts into words! So don’t be hard on yourself! 

I recommend working on one skill for 12-15 minutes a day for a week. Applying it to easy speaking situations and mastering it there first. 

Or you can take The Voice Spa to learn to be relaxed, concise and engaging as a communicator. Take The Executive Communicator to learn to use executive presence.

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The first step was to evaluate her speech & voice. She had a tight throat with a thin resonance that wasn’t making an impact. She wasn’t chunking her concepts into small groups of meaning and that was making it hard for people to process her ideas. 

Then we were able to apply the skills she needed (open throat, lots of air, chunking her concepts, etc.) hierarchically throughout her life. It took about 5 weeks and now this crystal clear, highly engaging speech is her new normal.

Share your communication stories with your friends & colleagues!

So stop beating yourselves up and start talking about it with your friends and colleagues. Share your stories. 

You can begin with, “Gosh, I don’t know why I can explain myself to you so well, but when I’m in front of the board of directors, I get a bit tongue-tied.” (Not a mystery.)

Or even, “I have no idea why I forgot what I wanted to say when I was delivering my speech.” (Also, not a mystery.)

How about, “I heard myself on the recorder and couldn’t believe how many filler words I use!” (Again, not a mystery.)

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Speech Improvement. Incredible Communicators Have Worked on It.

Embarrassment about not being an incredible speaker is stupid and a waste of time. And it prevents you from getting better.

Nobody is a perfect communicator. No one.

I’ve been working on my speech/communication skills since I was 14, and I’m not perfect. The other day, someone called me out online for using the word “just.” (The word “just” is undermining)

Perfect speech isn’t the goal. The goal is to create and maintain incredible strong relationships with others. It’s to get people to find you credible, trustworthy, authoritative, and warm. And if you’re not getting your message across those goals are hard to attain.

The most challenging thing humans do is communicate. You might think it’s rocket science or brain surgery. It’s not. It’s the ability to communicate with other people.

Your brain must complete so many processes to get your message out (and to perceive information simultaneously.) Consider that there’s stress and emotions and desires involved. Your brain is BUSY.

 
Articulating your thoughts into words is super challenging and requires you to learn the techniques. 

The people who can think and speak on a dime are the ones that learned those techniques and apply them regularly.
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Becoming a great communicator is a systematic process.

Now compare that with rocket science, brain surgery, or whatever field in which you find yourself. Did someone throw you out to the wolves? Did they say, “Build a rocket, get yourself to space, you have ten days?” 

No, you started learning math when you were two years old. You studied physics in high school. You went to school for years to study; when you came out, it was as if you had to learn it all over again.

Right? Seriously, when you finished your marketing degree, you were like wow! I’m so educated! Then you got your first job, and you felt as if you knew nothing! 

Then you climbed the ladder and became quite proficient, learning as you go—continuous learning throughout our lives. So speech improvement is necessary for our lives.

how to be a great communicator

Influence, kindness and confidence.

With influence and authority must come kindness. Always consider other people’s feelings when communicating. Not only does that help you become a great communicator but it makes others feel good.

If it’s confidence you’re lacking, I suggest you take some classes with me. You can do it yourself with The Voice Spa.

Remember, Warren Buffet said improving your communication skills is worth half a million dollars. And that was about 20 years ago! Inflation makes that number go up. It’s worth it in so many ways. 

Having confidence means no more stress, no more fear, and nerves or sleepless nights.

I also mention that great communicators are great conversationalists. Even if you’re shy or an introvert you can become a great conversationalist without becoming exhausted. And you’ll end up with incredible relationships.

Join the Great Communicator Club!

The steps involved in conveying your message to a fare-thee-well are many. The process that makes you come across as highly competent and authoritative, and so you persuade people to see your point of view and do what you tell them, is intricate.

But I assure you, it’s easily doable. You need to learn the steps and apply them systematically. Then it’s ridiculously easy. And crazy fun. So why do we beat ourselves up? We just need to take it upon ourselves to become better communicators.

Please don’t feel alone when you feel frustrated about an inability to convey your message perfectly all the time! It happens to everyone!

Can you find the two places where I used the word “just” in this article? Let me know how you feel about your communication skills and speech improvement in the comments.
 

Watch this video of Ita Olsen: Why am I Not Automatically an Incredible Speaker

12 thoughts on “Being a Great Communicator can be Rocket Science and It’s Okay”

  1. That makes sense. I mean why do I think I should be a great communicator if I’ve never worked on it? Why do I get so mad at myself for not being perfect at communicating all the time?

    1. Yes! And we feel bad about ourselves when we make speech mistakes like using too many fillers or upspeak, but really it’s just something we have to work on–like anything else! Do tennis players have coaches until they get to the Open? Yes! They’re coached at the Open.

      Everything we’re great at, we have worked on a lot.

  2. Hello! I’m a fellow SLP who has recently made the transition from sub acute rehab/skilled nursing to teletherapy. My new case load is mainly adults who want to develop their professional speaking or decrease the impact of their accents. I love this post! You perfectly articulated what I try to convey to my clients weekly.

    1. Hi Rachel! Nice to meet a fellow SLP 🙂
      I wish you well in your new venture. Remember, people weren’t taught communication skills in school, so regular folks also need our help 🙂

  3. This is the best article I have ever read about speech in general. This article made me wanna keep myself up. Thank you Ita.

  4. “Right? Seriously, when you finished your marketing degree, you were like wow! I’m so educated! Then you got your first job, and you felt as if you knew nothing! Then you climbed the ladder and became quite proficient, learning as you go—continuous learning throughout our lives. So speech improvement is necessary for our lives.”

    That’s funny and so true. I remember being quite proud of my proficiency in Business and when I got my first job I was definitely knocked down a few notches. But it wasn’t discussed, just like no one talks about how they feel and perform as a communicator.

    I leave this article feeling a little better about myself. These are problems most of us face: being at a loss for words, or not being concise enough, sometimes talking too fast or drawing a blank. We just need the process to become better communicators.

    Thank you for this.

  5. I really resonated with the line stating “why is it still a secret that people aren’t supposed to be incredible communicators without some training?”. I’ve always felt like something is wrong with me. So it feels great to know that others have struggled with the same thing and improved their way of speaking.

    1. Yes! I’m sad that you felt something was wrong with you; most people feel they are the only ones. It’s a crazy phenomenon that being a great communicator takes a bit of work, but most people just think it’s supposed to be natural like your eye color!

      To be good at something as complicated as communicating, you have to work at it.

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