ACADEMIC achievement is not the sole route to success. A good academic record might provide an initial push to your career, but in the long run you can only succeed if you have traits like persistence, curiosity, self-control, conscientiousness, grit, self-confidence and good speaking skills. Even if you possess a degree or a diploma from a good institution, you may find the job market to be very crowded. A range of non-academic qualities is required to make you stand out from the crowd.
Today communication is an integral part most high paying jobs in good organisations. The hiring managers look for candidates who are not only well educated, but are also proficient in communicating their ideas to an audience. In your job, you may be required to give a PowerPoint presentation, which in most cases is followed by a Q&A session with the audience. The effectiveness of your presentation will be enhanced if you can confidently interact with the audience during the Q&A session. Good communication matters because ultimately your ideas are only as good as your ability to communicate them.
What follows is a list of ways by which you can improve your communication skills.
Understand your audience
Whether you are giving an interview or a Q&A, a thorough understanding of the audience is important. You need to understand them to ensure that they think the way you want them to after the interaction is over. An analysis of the audience will also enable you to anticipate the kind of questions that will be asked and the level to which you have to pitch your answers.
Have courage to speak from the heart
You have to appear confident, while doing your best to avoid sounding arrogant. You must be filled with the conviction that you can make worthwhile contributions to conversation that is going on. Take time each day to be aware of your opinions and feelings so you can adequately convey them to others. You should make eye contact with your audience while answering.
Understand what the conversation is really about
Communication is, after all, the process of exchanging information or messages between the speaker and listener. You have to have a full grasp of the subject on which the conversation is being conducted. Before going to an interview or a Q&A, you have to do a thorough research on the topic or topics that will come under discussion.
While you are researching the content, it is prudent to go a step further. You should try to anticipate the questions that may arise in the minds of the audience and ensure that you have the requisite knowledge to formulate coherent answers to them.
Be a good listener
If a member of your audience is saying something to you give them a careful hearing. Give them time to articulate the complete answer. You can also rephrase the question in your own words before staring to answer it; this kind of strategy will help in creating a deeper bond with your audience. During Q&A sessions, it is possible that the questioner might not be able to articulate the question well; in this case you have to engage with him or her to draw out a clear question before beginning to answer it.
Don’t be in a hurry
While furnishing your answers, you should not appear as if you are in a hurry. Smart candidates and presenters usually take time in giving their replies. You should listen to the question carefully before coming up with an answer in as simple a manner as possible. Drawing analogies from well-known phenomenon and citing examples of real-life phenomena are good ways of explaining a concept. If you speak too fast, your audience will have the impression that you are not confident of yourself. However, you should not slow down to the extent, where your audience starts supplying you with words or ideas in order to help you finish.
Be brief and to the point
While engaging in any kind of communication, it is important to properly structure your ideas. There are four principles that you should use for structuring ideas: be brief, convincing, flexible and prioritise. Complex, verbose answers may make it seem that you are not clear about the subject.
You can use a limited amount of gestures with your hands and face to emphasise some important point that you are making. Smaller gestures can also be effective when you are engaged in one-to-one interviews and conversations. The gestures should get larger, as the group that one is addressing increases in size. The thing is that a right kind of body language can say much more than a mouthful of words. An open stance with arms relaxed at your sides tells anyone around you that you are approachable and open to hearing what they have to say.
Master the art of pronunciation
There is no alternative to being well versed in the language in which the interview of the Q&A is being conducted. People judge you by the language with which you speak. Just in case you are not sure of the word that you wish to use during the interview or presentation, you should avoid using it. You should set the volume of your speech by taking the setting into account. You need to speak softly when you are with only one person, and you have to speak louder when you are speaking to larger groups or across larger spaces.