Point Made: Improving Communication Skills

When I was a freshman in high school, I took a class called “speech and drama” where half of the year we focused on public speaking skills. One of the things the teacher would say to have us focus on being crystal clear in our speech was “point made.” It was something everyone in the class would get told on occasion, but it practically became a running joke every time I had to talk. Succinctness, if you can tell from the lengthy posts on this blog, is not my strong suit.

Being verbose might be beneficial in a social situation when you’re in a room full of introverts who would prefer not to speak or at a table of people who culturally like to talk a lot to and over each other, it’s not ideal for the board room. While I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I actually believe in my points that I’m trying to make, I’ve yet to uncover how to turn my mush-pot of a brain into quality communication. My boss pointed out the other day that I was verbose and sounded defensive over a project I was in charge of that didn’t go over so well, and speaking of points I agreed with his. Yet I find no matter how hard I try I just cannot in the moment figure out how to produce words that say exactly what I want to say without babbling. It’s especially hard on conference calls as one cannot quickly see others in the room zoning out.

I know I need to focus on improving my communication skills if I will ever be a successful executive. But how do I do this? Yes, there are things like toastmasters and such, but those are more for getting up in front of an audience and presenting. I could use help there as well, but my bigger problem is just general conversational communication. I did not learn this from my parents as my mother is the type who will just talk your ear off and my father, while he’s better at debating, is so convinced that he always has the right answer that he taught me that I’m always wrong (unless, of course, I agree with his POV.) I wasn’t taught that it’s ok to stand your ground or believe in your point so much that you don’t need to constantly defend your point. The more you defend it the weaker you seem, the quicker your conviction foils.

So I have good ideas, just as good as anyone else, yet some people with good ideas get others to buy in and stand behind them and others just get lost to the wind. I can take my ideas and execute on them and then finally people see that they were good ideas. I’m not the type who can just speak with great charisma and get others to join alongside me. That’s what I need to be if I’m ever going to become a successful executive. But is that something that can be learned, or is it just not in my personality? And where could I go to learn such a skills, if it is learnable?

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One comment

  1. Jon Atkins says:

    Find a local Toastmasters and attend as a guest. If you are curious or scared, keep going back and practice. Will improve your comfort and confidence with communicating to others and give you tools to use to improve both prepared and impromptu speaking.
    http://www.toastmasters.org/

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