Mind Gliding Ltd
Professional Management Development
Dr Eddy Kloprogge
© Mind Gliding Ltd – all rights reserved
1. Communication 3
1.1. Why communications skills are so important 3
1.2. Communications skills - The importance of removing barriers 3
1.2.1. Sender... 3
1.2.2. Message... 4
1.2.3. Channel... 4
1.2.4. Receiver... 4
1.2.5. Feedback... 4
1.2.6. Context... 4
1.3. Removing barriers at all these stages 5
2. Communication in your organisation 5
2.1. The importance of non-verbal communication 5
2.2. Giving people time 5
2.3. Enhancing your communications
3. Better public speaking & presentation - ensure your words are always understood 6
3.1. Being prepared - guidelines for thinking ahead 6
4. Writing skills - before you write it down, know this 7
4.1. Write with necessary caution... 7
4.2. The importance of "style"... 7
4.3. Letter writing hints... 7
4.4. The importance of careful proofing 8
5. Effective email - how to communicate powerfully by email 9
6. Running effective meetings 10
6.1. The importance of preparation 10
6.2. Managing a meeting 10
6.3. Issuing minutes 10
7. Win-win negotiation - finding a fair compromise 12
7.1. Preparing for a successful negotiation… 12
7.2. Style is critical… 13
7.3. Negotiating successfully…
8. Speaking to an audience - communicate complex ideas successfully 14
8.1. Preparation – the key to successful speaking... 14
8.2. How to structure your presentation 14
8.3. Achieving clarity and impact 14
8.4. Reinforce your message with visual aids 14
8.5. Arranging the room 15
8.6. Tips and techniques 15
9. Active listening - hear what people are really saying 16
10. Start by understanding your own communication style 16
11. Be an active listener 16
12. Use nonverbal communication 16
13. Give feedback 16
14. Presentation planning checklist 17
14.1. Presentation 17
14.2. Delivery 17
14.3. Appearance 17
14.4. Visual Aids 17
15. Communicating internationally - cross-culture communicating made easy 18
Regardless of what business you are in – a large corporation, a small company, or even a homebased
business – effective communication skills are essential for success.
1.1. Why communications skills are so important:
The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others. This is a process
that involves both the sender of the message and the receiver. This process leaves room for
error, with messages often misinterpreted by one or more of the parties involved. This causes
unnecessary confusion and counter productivity.
In fact, a message is successful only when both the sender and the receiver perceive it in the
By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas
effectively. When not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you convey do not necessarily
reflect your own, causing a communications breakdown and creating roadblocks that stand in
the way of your goals – both personally and professionally.
In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication skills, many individuals
continue to struggle with this, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively –
whether in verbal or written format. This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to
compete effectively in the workplace, and stands in the way of career progression.
Getting your message across is paramount to progressing. To do this, you must understand
what your message is, what audience you are sending it to, and how it will be perceived. You
must also weigh-in the circumstances surrounding your communications, such as situational
and cultural context.
1.2. Communications skills - The importance of removing barriers:
Communication barriers can pop-up at every stage of the communication process (which
consists of sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback and context - see the diagram
below) and have the potential to create misunderstanding and confusion.
To be an effective communicator and to get your point across without misunderstanding and
confusion, your goal should be to lessen the frequency of these barriers at each stage of this
process with clear, concise, accurate, well-planned communications. We follow the process
To establish yourself as an effective communicator, you must first establish credibility.
In the business arena, this involves displaying knowledge of the subject, the audience
and the context in which the message is delivered.
You must also know your audience (individuals or groups to which you are delivering
your message); Failure to understand who you are communicating to will result in
delivering messages that are misunderstood.
Next, consider the message itself. Written, oral and nonverbal communications are
effected by the sender’s tone, method of organisation, validity of the argument, what is
communicated and what is left out, as well as your individual style of communicating.
Messages also have intellectual and emotional components, with intellect allowing us
the ability to reason and emotion allowing us to present motivational appeals, ultimately
changing minds and actions.
Messages are conveyed through channels, with verbal including face-to-face meetings,
telephone and videoconferencing; and written including letters, emails, memos and
These messages are delivered to an audience. No doubt, you have in mind the actions
or reactions you hope your message prompts from this audience. However, your
audience also enters into the communication process with ideas and feelings that will
undoubtedly influence their understanding of your message and their response. To be a
successful communicator, you should consider these before delivering your message,
Your audience will provide you with feedback, verbal and nonverbal reactions to your
communicated message. Pay close attention to this feedback as it is crucial to ensuring
the audience understood your message.
The situation in which your message is delivered is the context. This may include the
surrounding environment or broader culture (i.e. corporate culture, international
1.3. Removing barriers at all these stages
To deliver your messages effectively, you must commit to breaking down the barriers that
exist in each of these stages of the communication process.
Let’s begin with the message itself. If your message is too lengthy, disorganised, or contains
errors, you can expect the message to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Use of poor
verbal and body language can also confuse the message.
Also delivering too much information too fast will result in less information received or
Do not forget to consider your audience’s culture, making sure you can converse and deliver
your message to people of different backgrounds and cultures within your own organisation,
in this country and even abroad.
2. Communication in your organisation
To ensure successful communications within your organisation, it is best to start with the very
basics: your knowledge of verbal and non-verbal communications. In the workplace, these types
of communications are continually exchanged, often without much planning or even the thought
that such communications are taking place.
2.1. The importance of non-verbal communication
For instance, it’s not always just what you say. It’s also how you “say” it – taking into account
your eyes, your posture, your overall body language, even your appearance at the time the
communication is exchanged, and the voice in which you offer the exchange.
In verbal communication, an active dialogue is engaged with the use of words. At the same
time, however, non-verbal communication takes place, relying on nonverbal cues, such as
gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, even clothing and personal space.
Nonverbal cues are very powerful, making it crucial that you pay attention to your actions, as
well as the nonverbal cues of those around you. If, during your meeting, participants begin to
doodle or chat amongst themselves, they are no longer paying attention to you: Your
message has become boring or your delivery is no longer engaging.
Once again, you need to be mindful of cultural differences when using or interpreting
nonverbal cues. For instance, the handshake that is so widely accepted in Western cultures
as a greeting or confirmation of a business deal is not accepted in other cultures, and can
While eye contact, facial expressions, posture, gestures, clothing and space are obvious
nonverbal communication cues, others strongly influence interpretation of messages,
including how the message is delivered. This means paying close attention to your tone of
voice, even your voice's overall loudness and its pitch.
Be mindful of your own nonverbal cues, as well as the nonverbal cues of those around you.
Keep your messages short and concise. This means preparing in advance whenever
possible. And for the impromptu meeting, it means thinking before you speak.
2.2. Giving people time
Setting aside a specific time for meetings and regular communications is a great idea. This
allows time for everyone involved to prepare. Also, keep in mind that listening is oftentimes
much more productive when working to communicate effectively, and can very well be more
important than talking. Allow everyone involved the time they need to communicate
2.3. Enhancing your communications:
Because gestures can both compliment and contradict your message, be mindful of these.
Eye contact is an important step in sending and receiving messages. Eye contact can be a
signal of interest, a signal of recognition, even a sign of honesty and credibility.
Closely linked to eye contact are facial expressions, which can reflect attitudes and emotions.
Posture can also be used to more effectively communicate your message.
Clothing is important. By dressing for your job, you show respect for the values and
conventions of your organisation.
Be mindful of people’s personal space when communicating. Do not invade their personal
space by getting too close and do not confuse communications by trying to exchange
messages from too far away.
3. Better public speaking & presentation - ensure your words are always understood
While we discussed many of the cues used to ensure your spoken words are understood in the
previous section, there are many other things you should do to ensure that your verbal messages
are understood time and time again.
Although somewhat obvious and deceptively simple, these include:
Keep the message clear
Keep the message simple
Be vivid when delivering the message
Keep the message concise
Preparation is underrated. In fact, it is one of the most important factors in determining your
communication successes. When possible, set meeting times and speaking and presentation
times well in advance, thus allowing yourself the time you need to prepare your communications,
mindful of the entire communication process (sender, message, channel, receiver, feedback and
context). By paying close attention to each of these stages and preparing accordingly, you ensure
your communications will be more effective and better understood.
Of course, not all communications can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a
good, thorough understanding of the office going-ons, enabling you to communicate with the
knowledge you need to be effective, both through verbal and written communications.
3.1. Being prepared - guidelines for thinking ahead
Ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?
Who are you speaking to? What are their interests, presuppositions and values? What do
they share in common with others; how are they unique?
What do you wish to communicate? One way of answering this question is to ask yourself
about the ‘success criteria’. How do you know if and when you have successfully
communicated what you have in mind?
How can you best convey your message? Language is important here, as are the nonverbal
cues discussed earlier. Choose your words and your nonverbal cues with your audience in
mind. Plan a beginning, middle and end. If time and place allow, consider and prepare audiovisual
When? Timing is important here. Develop a sense of timing, so that your contributions are
seen and heard as relevant to the issue or matter at hand. There is a time to speak and a
time to be silent. ‘It’s better to be silent than sing a bad tune.’
Where? What is the physical context of the communication in mind? You may have time to
visit the room, for example, and rearrange the furniture. Check for availability and visibility if
you are using audio or visual aids.
Why? In order to convert hearers into listeners, you need to know why they should listen to
you – and tell them if necessary. What disposes them to listen? That implies that you know
yourself why you are seeking to communicate – the value or worth or interest of what you are
going to say.
Be concise. Be brief. Use short words and sentences. Where appropriate, support these with
short, easy-to-understand examples, which help demonstrate your message.
4. Writing skills - before you write it down, know this
Many people are intimidated by writing. Even so, there are times when writing is the best way to
communicate, and oftentimes the only way to get your message across.
4.1. Write with necessary caution...
When writing, be mindful of the fact that once something is in written form, it cannot be taken
back. Communicating through words can be more concrete than verbal communications, with
less room for error and even less room for mistakes. This presents written communicators
with new challenges, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, even writing style and actual
Thankfully, today’s technology makes memo, letter and proposal writing much easier by
providing reliable tools that check and even correct misspelled words and incorrect grammar
use. Unfortunately, these tools are not fail proof and will require your support, making your
knowledge in this area important.
4.2. The importance of "style"...
Some of the most basic tips to remember when writing include:
Avoid the use of slang words
Try not to use abbreviations (unless appropriately defined)
Steer away from the use of symbols (such as ampersands [&])
Clichés should be avoided, or at the very least, used with caution
Brackets are used to play down words or phrases
Dashes are generally used for emphasis
Great care should ALWAYS be taken to spell the names of people and companies correctly
Numbers should be expressed as words when the number is less than 10 or is used to start a
sentence (example: Ten years ago, my brother and I…). The number 10, or anything greater
than 10, should be expressed as a figure (example: My brother has 13 Matchbox cars.)
Quotation marks should be placed around any directly quoted speech or text and around
titles of publications.
Keep sentences short
While the above tips cover the most common mistakes made when writing letters, memos
and reports, they in no way cover everything you need to know to ensure your written
communications are accurate and understood.
4.3. Letter writing hints...
When writing letters, it is best to address the letter to an individual. And, when beginning the
letter with a personal name, be sure to end it with an appropriate closing, such as ‘Sincerely
yours’. If you cannot obtain an individual’s name, consider ending it with a more generic (less
personal) closing, such as ‘With kindest regards’.
For normal business letters, your letter should start with an overall summary, showing in the
first paragraph why the letter is relevant to the reader. It’s not a good practice to make the
reader go past the first paragraph to find out why the letter was sent to them.
The body of the letter needs to explain the reason for the correspondence, including any
relevant background and current information. Make sure the information flows logically,
ensuring you are making your points effectively.
The closing of the letter is the final impression you leave with the reader. End with an action
point, such as ‘I will call you later this week to discuss this further’.
4.4. The importance of careful proofing
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when writing a letter is to check it thoroughly
when it is completed. Even when you think it is exactly what you want, read it one more time.
This “unwritten” rule holds true for everything you write – memos, letters, proposals, etc.
Use both the grammar and spell check on your computer, paying very, very close attention to
every word highlighted. Do not place total faith on your computer here. Instead, you should
have both a printed dictionary and thesaurus nearby to double-check everything your
computers editing tools highlight, as these tools are certainly not always reliable, for a variety
When checking your written communications make sure the document is clear and concise.
Is there anything in the written communication that could be misinterpreted? Does it raise
unanswered questions or fail to make the point you need to get across?
Can you cut down on the number of words used? For instance, don’t use 20 words when you
can use 10. While you do not want to be curt or abrupt, you do not want to waste the reader’s
time with unnecessary words or phrases.
Is your written communication well organized? Does each idea proceed logically to the next?
Make sure your written communications are easy to read and contain the necessary
information, using facts where needed and avoiding information that is not relevant. Again,
outline the course of action you expect, such as a return call or visit.
Close appropriately; make sure to include your contact information. While this may seem
obvious, it is sometimes overlooked and can make your written communications look
amateurish. This can diminish your chances of meeting your written communication’s goals.
5. Effective email - how to communicate powerfully by email
As with all written communications, your emails should be clear and concise. Sentences should be
kept short and to the point.
This starts with the e-mail’s subject line. Use the subject line to inform the receiver of EXACTLY
what the email is about. Keep in mind, the subject line should offer a short summary of the email
and allows for just a few words. Because everyone gets emails they do not want (SPAM, etc.),
appropriate use of the subject line increases the chances your email will be read and not
discarded into the deleted email file without so much as a glance.
Because emails have the date and time they were sent, it is not necessary to include this
information in your email correspondences. However, the writing used in the email should liken
that used is other business writings. The email should be clear and concise, with the purpose of
the email detailed in the very first paragraph.
The body of the email should contain all pertinent information (see writing tips in Written
Communications) and should be direct and informative.
Make sure to include any call to action you desire, such as a phone call or follow-up appointment.
Then, make sure you include your contact information, including your name, title, phone and fax
numbers, as well as snail-mail address. If you have additional email addresses, you may want to
include these, as well.
If you regularly correspond, using email, make sure to clean out your email inbox at least once
each day. Of course, the exception here may be on days you do not work, such as weekends and
Make sure you return emails in a timely manner. This is a simple act of courtesy and will also
serve to encourage senders to return your emails in a timely manner.
Internal email should be treated as regular email, following the same rules as outlined above.
However, internal email should be checked regularly throughout the working day and returned in a
much quicker manner as much of these detail timely projects, immediate updates, meeting notes,
etc. Nonetheless, internal emails, just like emails, should not be informal. Remember, these are
written forms of communication that can be printed out and viewed by others than those originally
6. Running effective meetings
While meetings are wonderful tools for generating ideas, expanding on thoughts and managing
group activity, this face-to-face contact with team members and colleagues can easily fail without
adequate preparation and leadership.
6.1. The importance of preparation
To ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to provide their input, start your meeting off
on the right foot by designating a meeting time that allows all participants the time needed to
Once a meeting time and place has been designated, make yourself available for questions
that may arise as participants prepare for the meeting. If you are the meeting leader, make a
meeting agenda, complete with detailed notes.
In these notes, outline the goal and proposed structure of the meeting, and share this with the
participants. This will allow all involved to prepare and to come to the meeting ready to work
together to meet the goal(s) at hand.
The success of the meeting is hinged on the skills displayed by the meeting leader. To
ensure the meeting is successful, the leader should:
Generate an agenda to all involved in the meeting
Start the discussion and encourage active participation
Work to keep the meeting at a comfortable pace – not moving too fast or too slow
Summarize the discussion and the recommendations at the end of each logical section
Circulate minutes to all participants
While these tips will help ensure your meeting is productive and well-received, there are other
important areas that need to be touched on to make sure your meeting and negotiation skills
are fine-tuned and ready to take to the boardroom.
6.2. Managing a meeting
Choosing the right participants is the key to the success of any meeting. Make sure all
participants can contribute and choose good decision-makes and problem-solvers. Try to
keep the number of participants to a maximum of 12, preferably fewer. Make sure the people
with the necessary information for the items listed in the meeting agenda are the ones that
If you are the leader, work diligently to ensure everyone’s thoughts and ideas are heard by
guiding the meeting so that there is a free flow of debate with no individual dominating and no
extensive discussions between two people. As time dwindles for each item on the distributed
agenda, you may find it useful to stop the discussion, then quickly summarize the debate on
that agenda item and move on the next item on the agenda.
When an agenda item is resolved or action is agreed upon, make it clear who in the meeting
will be responsible for this. In an effort to bypass confusion and misunderstandings,
summarize the action to be taken and include this in the meeting’s minutes.
6.3. Issuing minutes
Minutes record the decisions of the meeting and the actions agreed. They provide a record of
the meeting and, importantly, they provide a review document for use at the next meeting so
that progress can be measured - this makes them a useful disciplining technique as
individuals' performance and non-performance of agreed actions is given high visibility.
The style of the minutes issued depends on the circumstances - in situations of critical
importance and where the record is important, then you may need to take detailed minutes.
Where this is not the case, then minutes can be simple lists of decisions made and of actions
to be taken (with the responsible person identified). Generally, they should be as short as
possible as long as all key information is shown - this makes them quick and easy to prepare
It is always impressive if the leader of a meeting issues minutes within 24 hours of the end of
the meeting - it's even better if they are issued on the same day.
7. Win-win negotiation - finding a fair compromise
Negotiation skills help you to resolve situations where what you want conflicts with what someone
else wants. The aim of negotiation is to explore the situation to find a solution that is acceptable to
There are different styles of negotiation, depending on circumstances. Where you do not expect to
deal with people ever again and you do not need their goodwill, then it may be appropriate to ‘play
hardball’, seeking to win a negotiation while the other person loses out. Many people go through
this when they buy or sell a house – this is why house-buying can be such a confrontational and
unpleasant experience. Similarly, where there is a great deal at stake in a negotiation (for
example, in large sales negotiations), then it may be appropriate to prepare in detail and use a
certain amount of subtle gamesmanship to gain advantage.
Both of these approaches are usually wrong for resolving disputes with people you have an
ongoing relationship with: if one person plays hardball, then this disadvantages the other person –
this may, quite fairly, lead to reprisal later. Similarly, using tricks and manipulation during a
negotiation can severely undermine trust and damage teamwork. While a manipulative person
may not get caught out if negotiation is infrequent, this is not the case when people work together
on a frequent basis. Honesty and openness are the best policies in this case.
7.1. Preparing for a successful negotiation…
Depending on the scale of the disagreement, a level of preparation may be appropriate for
conducting a successful negotiation.
For small disagreements, excessive preparation can be counter-productive because it takes
time that is better used elsewhere. It can also be seen as manipulative because just as it
strengthens your position, it can weaken the other person’s.
If a major disagreement needs to be resolved, then it can be worth preparing thoroughly.
Think through the following points before you start negotiating:
Goals: what do you want to get out of the negotiation? What do you expect the other person
Trades: What do you and the other person have that you can trade? What do you each have
that the other might want? What might you each be prepared to give away?
Alternatives: if you don’t reach agreement with the other person, what alternatives do you or
the other person have? Are these good or bad? How much does it matter if you do not reach
agreement? Does failure to reach an agreement cut you out of future opportunities?
Relationships: what is the history of the relationship? Could or should this history impact the
negotiation? Will there be any hidden issues that may influence the negotiation? How will you
‘Expected outcomes’: what outcome will people be expecting from this negotiation? What
has the outcome been in the past, and what precedents have been set?
The consequences: what are the consequences for you of winning or losing this
negotiation? What are the consequences for the other person?
Power: who has what power in the relationship? Who controls resources? Who stands to
lose the most if agreement isn’t reached? What power does the other person have to deliver
what you hope for?
Possible solutions: based on all of the considerations, what possible compromises might
7.2. Style is critical…
For a negotiation to be 'win-win', both parties should feel positive about the situation when the
negotiation is concluded. This helps to maintain a good working relationship afterwards. This
governs the style of the negotiation – histrionics and displays of emotion are clearly
inappropriate because they undermine the rational basis of the negotiation and because they
bring a manipulative aspect to them.
Despite this, emotion can be an important subject of discussion because people's emotional
needs must fairly be met. If emotion is not discussed where it needs to be, then the
agreement reached can be unsatisfactory and temporary. Be as detached as possible when
discussing your own emotions – perhaps discuss them as if they belong to someone else.
7.3. Negotiating successfully…
The negotiation itself is a careful exploration of your position and the other person’s position,
with the goal of finding a mutually acceptable compromise that gives you both as much of
what you want as possible. People's positions are rarely as fundamentally opposed as they
may initially appear - the other person may quite often have very different goals from the
ones you expect!
In an ideal situation, you will find that the other person wants what you are prepared to trade,
and that you are prepared to give what the other person wants.
If this is not the case and one person must give way, then it is fair for this person to try to
negotiate some form of compensation for doing so – the scale of this compensation will often
depend on the many of the factors we discussed above. Ultimately, both sides should feel
comfortable with the final solution if the agreement is to be considered win-win.
8. Speaking to an audience - communicate complex ideas successfully
Speaking to an audience can be fun and exciting. However, lack of preparation or not clearly
defining the presentation’s goals and its audience can make even the best-intended presentation
a complete disaster.
8.1. Preparation – the key to successful speaking...
To ensure your presentation is effective, first determine your objective. Ask yourself:
Why am I giving the presentation?
What do I want the audience to take away from the presentation?
Second, determine your audience. Their familiarity with the presentation topic will determine
the level at which you present your speech.
8.2. How to structure your presentation
Once you have determined your presentation’s objective and overall goal, as well as the
audience, it’s time to structure your presentation. You will need to start this process by
determining the length of the presentation.
Take the allotted time and break it into smaller segments, with each segment tackling a
specific task (all of which reflect the overall objective of the presentation). For example, the
fist segment should be the presentation introduction. In this segment, you should give an
overview of your presentation, or a short summary of your speech, explaining the topic, why
you are covering this topic, and what you hope to accomplish.
The next segment should tackle the first item on your agenda, with the following segment
tackling the following item on your agenda, and so on.
Once you have developed the introduction and outlined the following segments, spend some
time thinking about the conclusion of the presentation. The introduction of the presentation
and the conclusion of the presentation are the most important parts and should have the
8.3. Achieving clarity and impact
Keep your presentation short and simple. Your audience will not remember every point of
your presentation, so highlight the most important parts: The longer the presentation- the
higher the risk of boredom.
When in doubt, use the “tell ‘em” structure:
Tell them what you are going to tell them (For instance, “In this presentation I will show
Tell them the key points, expanding and illustrating each one, clearly and concisely.
Tell them what you have told them (For instance, “In closing…” or “In summary…”) and
8.4. Reinforce your message with visual aids
Next, consider the use of visual aids. Slide projectors, data projectors, video machines and
computers should be tested out beforehand to make sure they are operating correctly and
that you know how to use them.
Make sure you do not cram too much information onto any single visual. A good rule of
thumb to follow is to keep each visual to six lines or less. Also, make sure any type or
graphics are large enough the audience can see it clearly (from all seats) and make sure the
colours used are easy on the eyes, taking into account the lighting.
A sad fact is that much of your authority will be judged by the quality of your slides - you need
to make sure that their design supports the style of your message.
Overheads should be clearly marked and arranged in order beforehand. Flip charts should be
prepared in advance when possible. When used during the presentation to take notes, make
print large enough for all participants to see.
When using these various visuals, do not turn your back to the audience. Position yourself so
you can use the visuals while facing your audience.
8.5. Arranging the room
If possible, visit the room in which you will make the presentation well in advance. Determine
seating (circle seating encourages interaction, rows of seats discourages interaction, etc.)
and determine how the visual aids you choose will work. Consider lighting, space, even the
temperature of the room. Consider placing notepads and pencils at each seat if participants
need to take notes. Or, you may want to have glasses at each seat with a few pitchers of
water if the presentation is going to last more than half of an hour. If you do this, make sure
you allow time for bathroom breaks.
While you do not need to memorize your entire presentation, make yourself very, very
familiar with it through several practice runs. Rehearse the presentation in its entirety as often
as you can before delivering it to a live audience. The more you rehearse, the more confident
you will be and the more fluent you will seem to your audience - if you know your subject
matter and have adequately prepared, you will be able to deliver your message loud and
When in doubt or nervous, stay focused on your purpose – helping your audience understand
your message. Direct your thoughts to the subject at hand. The audience has come to hear
your presentation and you will succeed!
8.6. Tips and techniques
Tips to help make your presentation a smashing success:
Avoid too many statistics and confusing information in your presentation. Instead, put this
information in a handout for participants to refer to at a later date.
If you forget your words, pause for a moment and remember your objective. While the words
may not come right back to you, this will help keep you on track and may even help you to
think of additional thoughts and ideas your audience will benefit from hearing.
Visualize yourself succeeding.
Begin by breathing.
Before the presentation, focus on the needs of the audience.
Take a public speaking course at a local college or university. These are oftentimes offered
as night courses and are usually very inexpensive, while providing you with important skills
that will enhance your confidence in this area.
Videotape yourself going through the presentation. All you need to do this is a video camera
and a tripod. Then, run through the video and make changes according to your thoughts on
the taped presentation.
9. Active listening - hear what people are really saying
It is obvious to say that if you have poor interpersonal communications skills (which include active
listening), your productivity will suffer simply because you do have the tools needed to influence,
persuade and negotiate – all necessary for workplace success. Lines of communications must be
open between people who rely on one another to get work done.
Considering this, you must be able to listen attentively if you are to perform to expectations, avoid
conflicts and misunderstandings, and to succeed - in any arena. Following are a few short tips to
help you enhance your communications skills and to ensure you are an active listener:
10. Start by understanding your own communication style
Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your personal
style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting
impressions on others. By becoming more aware of how others perceive you, you can adapt more
readily to their styles of communicating. This does not mean you have to be a chameleon,
changing with every personality you meet. Instead, you can make another person more
comfortable with you by selecting and emphasizing certain behaviours that fit within your
personality and resonate with another. In doing this, you will prepare yourself to become an active
11. Be an active listener
People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute (WPM), but they can listen intelligently at 600 to 800
words per minute. Since only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy to go into mind drift -
thinking about other things while listening to someone. The cure for this is active listening - which
involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand
others, solve problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show support, etc.
If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their
words mentally as they say it - this will reinforce their message and help you control mind drift.
12. Use nonverbal communication
Use nonverbal behaviours to raise the channel of interpersonal communication. Nonverbal
communication is facial expressions like smiles, gestures, eye contact, and even your posture.
This shows the person you are communicating with that you are indeed listening actively and will
prompt further communications while keeping costly, time-consuming misunderstandings at a
13. Give feedback
Remember that what someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different! Our personal
filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Repeat back or summarize
to ensure that you understand. Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you
correctly?" If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for
more information: "I may not understand you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said
personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"
Feedback is a verbal communications means used to clearly demonstrate you are actively
listening and to confirm the communications between you and others. Obviously, this serves to
further ensure the communications are understood and is a great tool to use to verify everything
you heard while actively listening.
14. Presentation planning checklist
This presentation checklist will help you deliver successful presentation.
Does your introduction grab participant’s attention and explain your objectives?
Do you follow this by clearly defining the points of the presentation?
Are these main points in logical sequence?
Do these flow well?
Do the main points need support from visual aids?
Does your closing summarize the presentation clearly and concisely?
Is the conclusion strong?
Have your tied the conclusion to the introduction?
Are you knowledgeable about the topic covered in your presentation?
Do you have your notes in order?
Where and how will you present (indoors, outdoors, standing, sitting, etc.)?
Have you visited the presentation site?
Have you checked your visual aids to ensure they are working and you know how to use
Make sure you are dressed and groomed appropriately and in keeping with the audience’s
Practice your speech standing (or sitting, if applicable), paying close attention to your body
language, even your posture, both of which will be assessed by the audience.
14.4. Visual Aids
Are the visual aids easy to read and easy to understand?
Are they tied into the points you are trying to communicate?
Can they be easily seen from all areas of the room?
15. Communicating internationally - cross-culture communicating made easy
With more and more companies globalizing, employees in various international locations now
have day-to-day communications with each other. Given different cultural contexts, this brings new
communication challenges to the workplace.
Even when these employees speak the same language (for instance, correspondences between
English-speakers in the UK and English-speakers in the U.S.), there are some cultural differences
that should be considered in an effort to optimize communications between the two parties.
In such cases, effective communication strategy begins with the understanding that the sender of
the message and the receiver of the message are from different cultures and backgrounds. Of
course, this introduces a certain amount of uncertainty, making communications even more
Without getting into cultures and sub-cultures, it is perhaps most important to realize that a basic
understanding of cultural diversity is the key to effective cross-cultural communications. Without
intently studying the individual cultures and languages, we must all learn how to better
communicate with individuals and groups whose first language, or language of choice, does not
match our own.
Learning the basics about culture and at least something about the language of communication in
the host country are necessary. This is necessary even for the basic level of understanding
required to engage in appropriate greetings and physical contact, which can be a tricky area interculturally.
For instance, kissing a business associate is not considered an appropriate business
practice in the UK, but in Paris, one peck on each cheek is an acceptable greeting. And, the
handshake that is widely accepted in the western world. is not recognized in all other cultures.
While many companies now offer training in the different cultures where the company conducts
business, it is important that employees being thrust into communicating across cultures practice
patience and work on their own to increase their knowledge and understanding of the different
culture. This requires the ability to see that a person’s own behaviours and reactions are often
Perhaps simply showing a genuine interest, paired with patience and understanding, is the best
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