Humans use verbal communication to interact with other people. According to the website Effective Communication, words alone have no meaning. Only people can put meaning into words. Language reflects social factors such as class, gender and age group. People want their words to be understood, but most times only assume that the recipients have received the message. People also have a tendency to believe that what is important to them as individuals is equally important to everyone else. A speaker, whether involved in an interpersonal conversation or speaking to thousands, must develop effective communication to relate to the audience.
An important tool in improving verbal communication is paying attention to nonverbal communication. Nonverbal cues actually make up more than 90 percent of total communication. Be mindful of body language, eye contact and posture. Gestures and facial expressions are also important in conveying the message communicated. Also, be aware of differences in culture. What might be polite in one culture may be rude or misunderstood in another. Finally, respect others' personal space. In the United States, personal space is about the distance of a person's outstretched arm and continues all around the individual.
Allow ample time not only to deliver the message, but also to enable another speaker a successful turn at speaking. Many people find it difficult to endure silence. Learning instead to appreciate silence will only improve communication. When an issue arises that must be discussed, whether in a work situation, family or with one individual, allow enough time for participants to prepare their viewpoints.
Develop tools to ensure the message is understood. Understand the purpose of the conversation or presentation, keep the words brief and to the point, know what you are going to say and use words that pinpoint your meaning.
Have a clear idea of the goals to be achieved in the conversation or presentation. Understanding your motives as well as knowing the audience and how they might best receive the message helps hone verbal skills. If you must deliver an unwelcome message, one goal would be to preserve the recipient's dignity.
Verbal communication is typically most effective when you keep it simple. As a speaker, don't bog yourself down in flowery or academic language. The message will be easier to understand and received with more success if it is simple and straightforward.
Whether entering into an interpersonal conversation or a presentation, take some time to think before you speak. One of the most important elements of successful communication is preparation, which people often overlook.
Take some time to hone your delivery technique. Using examples to color the message, keeping body language loose and learning to speak slowly and with varying tones are all ways to improve the delivery. To become comfortable with these methods, practice when looking into a mirror.
Be mindful of manners and think about verbal and nonverbal methods that might be offensive to the listener. Take a moment to think about the recipient's background, culture, gender and religious views to help select appropriate words.
Lynda Lanford began her writing career in the technological arena in 1989, working for such organizations as National Computer Systems and KnowledgeNet. She has also worked in medical transcription. This combination of experience has led to a strong interest and capacity for writing medical topics in everyday language. Lanford earned an Associate of Arts degree from Glendale College with a journalism emphasis.