I found this wonderful online article about how leaders can communicate more effectively. Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer at N2growth, put forward the following five tips:

  1. Are your words consistent with your character? Will your choices stand the test of time, or will they come back to haunt you? It is important to understand that words are not easily forgotten – they leave a lasting and often indelible impression.
  2. Are your words consistent with your actions? Nothing hurts a leader’s reputation faster than becoming known for being disingenuous. Do your words build bridges or burn them? Do your words engender confidence or destroy trust? If you say one thing yet do another, it won’t be long before you lose the confidence of those around you.
  3. Are your words intended to help or hinder? Do they offer constructive criticism or do they belittle and intimidate? Are your words benefiting others or just yourself? Are your words adding value or just adding to the noise? The goal of every interaction should be leaving others with the feeling that the time spent with you was beneficial to them. If you cannot espouse something helpful, then why say or write anything at all?
  4. Do your words leave room for others? If your words overshadow or drown-out the words of others you’ve simply wasted your breath. Remember that most people don’t want to be lectured, and that it’s very difficult to learn anything when giving a monologue. However great things tend to happen when engaged in meaningful dialogue.
  5. Do your words start conversations or end them? The goal of any interaction is not to get in the last word, but rather to remain engaged in order to create the desired outcome. You don’t learn, inspire, motivate, influence, educate, or inform by shutting someone down.

I have found this immensely helpful in improving my own communication skills. I believe that we all oftentimes take the importance of communication for granted. We focus instead on our education, experience, or power, forgetting that one cannot hope to be a successful person without proper communication skills.

I challenge you all to read these tips and apply them to yourself. I chose to record an audio of myself speaking with my friends for a 30-minute period. I was ASTOUNDED by how many “fillers” I used. All in all, I counted 32 “likes,” 40 “ums,” and 7 “I means.” Before I completed this exercise, I believed I was a great communicator and did not have much room to improve my skills. Now that I have reflected on how I actually sound, I need to take the proper steps to edit my speaking skills.