Speak Up Be Heard

By Claire Cockerton

Communication expert and advisor to celebrities, Lindsay Maclean offers her top tips on how to communicate in the most effective way.

Many things interfere with our natural ability to communicate. Worrying about what other people think of us is one of the most common barriers. Here are five quick ways you can rediscover your natural ability for being a brilliant communicator:

1. Be present, listen and ask… 

This doesn’t come naturally to many of us but it’s essential for effective communication. If you’re in conversation listen and focus on being in the present moment. By doing this you’ll give people the space to speak, to clearly think and resolve any challenges. People have a fundamental need to be understood.  Summarise what you hear so that the other person knows that you have listened and understood.  If you are listening effectively, you’ll ask the right questions. Take an interest in others. Questions often fuel effective communication. Also, if ever you feel nervous or self-conscious, ask lots of questions. People often love to talk about themself so this will help you relax and the communication flow.

2. Body language and voice 

Psychologists now accept that between 60 – 90 % of your communication is non-verbal. The problem that many of us face, when we are under pressure, in the spot light and need to communicate our very best we can become self conscious prompting stiff body language and robotic voices. We can present ineffective versions of ourselves. So turn up your energy levels more than you think to help you avoid that stiff robot. The best way to gain awareness and play with your energy levels is filming yourself giving a mini presentation and watching it back. Do you look like a natural, relaxed, dynamic communicator or do you look boring? The video will reveal what other people may experience if you’re in the spot light – an interview, a meeting or delivering a presentation.

3. The power pose 

I love Amy Cuddy’s popular TED talk encouraging you to do some power posing. By this, she means shoulders back, chest out, imagine a piece of string attached from the top of your head to the ceiling and get yourself into a powerful position before any challenging situation – interview, networking, presentation, meeting or just a date!  Her research indicates that, by doing this for two minutes, you can increase your testosterone levels and walk into challenging situations feeling more powerful.  Many years in this industry tells me it works! One thing I would say, practice in the mirror some time so that you don’t end up imitating a pumped-up superman or a crazed superwoman in the interview!

4. Simple, clear and personable

Avoid jargon, you may think that you have stumbled across an impressive industry word but using this type of language puts people off. The best lawyers, doctors and teachers I meet avoid all industry jargon. If people feel that you’re communicating in a personable way they are more likely to sit up and listen to you. Stories and anecdotes are the most powerful way to engage and inspire others.   We don’t talk in bullet points when we are talking about holidays or life in general so why do some people do this in meetings and presentation? If you want people to sit up and listen, find the simple stories behind the message and keep it human!

5. Responding to conflict 

Many of us can put our egos in front of results at work and in our home life. If you feel angry, if you feel defensive, that’s normal but wait until you respond. Breathe deeply and do your best to remove yourself from the situation.

Speak Up & Be Heard is out now, priced £10.99 available on Amazon 

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