Elements of Effective Oral Communication

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If you've ever flubbed up while trying to communicate a message -- as most people have -- you understand just how important the different aspects of communication are. Communication is far more than just the words that come out of your mouth. It involves an intricate web of cues woven together to tell others what you really mean when you say something. Sharpen your communication and leadership skills by honing all of the elements of effective communication next time you convey a message.

Word Choice

Some people are naturally more eloquent than others and seem to always have the right words to say in any given situation. If you're not blessed with the ability to speak off the cuff, you can improve upon this skill with practice. If you need to communicate an important message verbally, schedule a time to do it, and then practice what you intend to say by writing it down first. Make sure that you have effectively gotten your message across by asking the person with whom you're communicating to paraphrase what you've just told him. You can also greatly improve your word arsenal by becoming an avid reader.

Body Language

Body language is a powerful tool for communicating messages that includes all nonverbal cues used during communication, such as eye contact, posture, gestures and facial expressions. Body language can be far more powerful than spoken words. The two research studies most often cited on the impact of body language over verbal communication, both published in 1967 and led by Albert Mehrabian, concluded that body language accounts for 55 percent of communication. Ensure your message is communicated properly by making sure that your body and mouth are on the same page when you speak.

Hone Your Tone

The tone of your voice helps convey your attitude and emotions during communication. Tone includes vocal inflections and word choice, and when improperly used, can confuse your audience or end up sending an unintended message. For example, an apology offered with a snappy "I'm sorry" is very different from one that utilizes a warm, soft voice and conveys genuine emotion by explaining the reason for the apology.

Be a Good Listener

It may sound contradictory, but an important part of being an effective communicator is simultaneously being a great listener. Remember, communication is a two-way street that involves both relaying your own messages and understanding the messages of others. Become a good listener by focusing intently on the words some is communicating. Make eye contact and nod to indicate you understand, or ask questions once he is finished if there are things you are unclear about. Don't interrupt, and don't allow outside distractions to draw your attention away from your speaker.