Communication Skills – Are You Surviving or Thriving?
When it comes to communication skills – things like speaking on panels or at a conference, presenting at client or staff meetings, interacting with employees, or inspiring change within your company or community – are you surviving or thriving? That’s the topic of today’s post.
Last week I got a call from a prospect. She took a program with me several years ago and now finds herself in a more visible role where she has to talk to people, and inspire them, all the time.
Her previous role? CFO at a non-profit. Her new role? President at a different non-profit. The difference? In her role as CFO she talked in numbers. In meetings she presented financial updates. They were simple and to the point.
In her new role, however, she needs to inspire everyone she speaks to including volunteers, staff, donors and the community at large. Numbers, she realizes, won’t do that.
Time to raise the bar
In addition to her own communication skills, she needs to raise the bar on the image and culture of the organization.
She feels overwhelmed and recognizes that something has to change.
So, on the phone she admitted, “I’m surviving. But I’m not thriving. And I really want to thrive.”
She wants to be the one people talk about as inspiring; to have a more compelling presence; to be the one who turns around the culture and image of her organization.
And she recognizes that, with some help, she can make that happen.
Are you surviving or thriving?
We talk to people all of the time. Think about when you’re with friends and family. Are you engaging? Do you tell stories, laugh, use your body and voice in powerful ways?
Then, what happens in a business or professional environment – you know – like the office or a presentation or a networking event? Do you speak naturally or clam up and forget that you have those engaging communication skills?
And so we survive. You know we…
- Believe that we could never be a speaker even though deep down there is a tug to try
- Think our work is boring and that there is no way to make it sound exciting
- Keep attending and running meetings that lack purpose and waste time
- Ramble and lose our train of thought
- Avoid putting ourselves out there and live with the status quo that may, in fact, be undermining our credibility
- Leave money on the table
And yet, it is possible to thrive.
- Meetings can have life in them
- People can, too
- Business is interesting if we tap into the “why” behind it
- Thoughts can be expressed clearly
- We can feel grounded in who we are and our skills without comparing ourselves to others
- People can feel inspired and moved to buy, donate or follow a new process
Communication skills can be learned
Recently a colleague asked me, “Do you think anyone can become a more engaging communicator?”
Yes, of course!
If you’re willing to do the work.
It starts with your mindset. Do you believe surviving is the best you can get (fixed mindset) or that with training, coaching or practice you can build your skills and thrive (growth mindset)?
Build skills and confidence. Once you’ve decided to grow, then take (imperfect) action. Say yes to opportunities, join Toastmasters, take a class, hire a coach, and put yourself out there. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, be human and learn as you go. You must believe that you can grow.
Stay in Motion. A marketing executive once asked me, “How often should I practice my skills?” I said, “Every chance you get.” Improving communication is not a one time event. It’s about continuous learning and practice. Baby steps add up to make a much greater whole or, in this case, a more engaging communicator.
Surviving or thriving. They’re both options. What will you choose?
Your voice matters. Keep shining.
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About the blog
Insights & inspiration to make human interactions like speaking, networking, facilitating less awkward & boring and more natural & engaging.
Topics include presence, getting your message across, relationship building, staying poised under pressure, running a meeting, dealing with burnout and more.
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