18 Best Strategies For Effective Communication Skills

12 min read
Mar 1, 2024
18 Best Strategies For Effective Communication Skills
In the business, communication abilities are among the most used and in-demand. Leaders and individual contributors alike must practice these.
Excellent communication skills are the difference between connected, agile teams and teams that are unable to cooperate, stay aligned, and accomplish shared objectives in our increasingly remote and hybrid work contexts.
The good news is that it's not as hard as you might think to get better at communicating. These fundamental ideas are worth adhering to in order to improve communication.

5 types of communication to develop

It's possible that you and your team have been working remotely for a while. You have probably used a variety of communication styles whether you work a regular office job, manage from home, or operate in a hybrid setting.
Building cross-functional communication skills is essential for long-term corporate success. The top five communication styles are listed here, and they should be improved.
  • Oral communication: Speech is the means of sharing thoughts. Presentations, one-on-one conversations, and virtual calls are a few examples.
  • Written communication: Written words are a means of exchanging ideas and thoughts. Emails, handwritten notes, or signage can all be used for this.
  • Non-verbal communication: No written or spoken words are used in the sharing of information. Body language, gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions are a few examples.
  • Active listening: Active listening is about taking in information, as opposed to the previous examples. Asking questions to better grasp the material is possible when someone is attentively listening, but they shouldn't focus on their answer to the point where they lose track of the speaker.
  • Contextual communication: Information is exchanged based on shared understandings—spoken or not—about a variety of topics, including the environment and interpersonal interactions.

What is effective communication?

The best communicators actively listen to others while also providing clear information to them. They are able to communicate their ideas and perspectives in an inclusive manner and simultaneously welcome input, both verbal and nonverbal.
What is effective communication?
What is effective communication?
Effective communication necessitates a connection with people, regardless of communication method. It's a dance that occasionally moves in unexpected ways when done with a partner. Thus, being in tune with your audience is the most effective skill you can use.
It entails being aware of its demands, responding to them, and getting feedback in real time. It entails engaging in the dialogue that members of your audience desire to have.
But it may take some practice to be able to do all that.
Here are a few successful communication techniques to improve your listening and speaking skills.

How to improve communication skills

Simple messages are typically the finest ones.
It is useless to communicate in any way—spoken, written, formal, or informal—if the message is not comprehended correctly.
A high-level communication talent is being able to communicate succinctly while keeping your audience interested and covering everything your team needs to know.
Here are some tips for improving communication.

1. Keep your audience in mind

When you customize your messages to your audience's interests, they will be more engaged and naturally more intrigued. Their desire to comprehend and connect with the content will automatically be piqued when you speak directly to their interests.

2. When one word will do, don't use 10

Eventually, even the most attentive and involved audience will get disinterested. It will be simpler to comprehend and remember your message if it is clear and succinct. Recall that although you already know what you're going to say, this is their first time hearing it. Make it easy.

3. Think about the most effective way to convey your message

If the information you're sharing isn't urgent, you might choose to write a memo or an email. When expressing expectations, this is really crucial. When you communicate in writing, your audience will have more time to read it over, consider it, and ask further questions. They will also have a helpful history to refer to.

4. Get them involved

If you have ever held a position as a manager, coach, trainer, or teacher, you are aware that teaching is one of the best ways to acquire new knowledge. Request their opinions or have them assist in educating their peers about new ideas and regulations. 

5. Leverage face-to-face communication when possible

Speaking with someone in person adds layers of knowledge to any conversation, whether it is between two or two hundred. In-person contact frequently creates a synergy that is hard to duplicate elsewhere.

6. Make eye contact

Few indicators provide you more insight into whether or not your message is being understood than eye contact. A lot of information is lost in digital communication, but you can detect if the person you're speaking to is comprehending you or is preoccupied, puzzled, or anxious.

7. Ask for feedback 

Uncertain if they understood it? Inquire! Asking them to repeat back what you just said is a really effective strategy. This can frequently enhance recall, facilitate understanding right away, and reduce misconceptions later on.
You may also ask them to get in touch with you with useful suggestions on how to give presentations and other types of communication more effectively.

8. Read non-verbal cues

Nonverbal cues come in many forms. It's typically obvious when someone is yawning, fidgeting, or scanning the room that they are not paying attention to what you are trying to say. Please don't take this personally if you observe it.
Ask them to express what's on their minds, go over any topics from earlier that they might have missed, or set a meeting time for later.

9. Minimize distractions

Remove any unnecessary technology from the room to reduce distractions when having a face-to-face conversation with someone or a group. Restrict attendance to those who truly need to be there, and try to avoid scheduling during times when individuals are more likely to be distracted (for example, just before lunch or the end of the day).

How to improve online communication

How to improve online communication
How to improve online communication
Office premises are quickly being replaced by online communication as the principal area for conducting business. It could be difficult to get used to having meetings, talks, and even colleagues who collaborate with you or report to you digitally, particularly if you're used to working with teams in person.
Online communication offers a distinct means of interaction, thus bear the following in mind: 

1. Stick to a time limit

Because online meetings include the distractions of an almost infinite range of settings, they can be considerably harder to concentrate on. As far as possible, keep meetings brief and focused, and take extra care to avoid long Q&A sessions. To preserve everyone's time, follow up via asynchronous communication channels if necessary.

2. Be mindful of the other person

Usually, the only person able to fully concentrate on the meeting is the one making the presentation. Assume that participants have a variety of demands on their time, particularly while working from home, and organize the material appropriately.

3. Recap important details

Over a digital connection, many interpersonal and nonverbal clues can be lost. Verify comprehension by summarizing the main ideas. You can either conclude a long email with a brief summary or conduct a fast review during an online meeting.

4. Don’t forget to respond

Even if a message is informal, make sure you promptly acknowledge each one. The person on the other end probably won't know unless you tell them, even if you may have gotten the message. Usually, a few words or simply a "like" will suffice.

5 extra tips to sharpen your communication skills

Generally speaking, the following advice can help you succeed in improving your communication skills regardless of the circumstance or audience you find yourself speaking to:
  1. Be approachable: Your coworkers are less likely to come to you with information if they are afraid of you or think you won't react appropriately.
  2. Be patient: Different people communicate in different ways. It pays off to take the time to make sure you've comprehended the other person and have spoken in a clear and concise manner.
  3. Be self-aware: It's acceptable if you're nervous, struggling with communicating, or simply having a rough day. The development of effective communication skills requires time and practice.
  4. Check for understanding: To make sure that everyone is on the same page, don't be afraid to ask questions or solicit comments.
  5. Switch out the messenger: Give other team members or leaders the opportunity to conduct meetings and conversations so they can improve their communication skills.

How to be a better active listener

Although active listening is highly praised, many individuals are unsure of how this translates into practical actions. The obsession with providing a response is one of the biggest obstacles to active listening.
There is no time to interact with the input because so many individuals are preoccupied with coming up with the ideal solution. Take into consideration the following actions in order to break this behavior, which is not truly beneficial to the speaker.
How to be a better active listener
How to be a better active listener

Rethink how to add value

You might believe that speaking is the primary way to bring value to a conversation. However, others may not always see it that way. The majority of us appreciate answers that challenge our preconceptions, make our assumptions more clear, or highlight potential blind spots.
Often, we don't need a listener to be smart or wow us with their own statistics. Rather, we could cherish most how they improved our ability to think.

Paraphrase without judgment

If you find yourself replying too much, consider shifting the subject of your answer. Assign oneself the goal of providing a summary without interjecting your own opinions or judgments. As you pay attention, try to summarize what you hear in a few sentences, maybe explaining some of the speaker's first words.
Repetition of familiar terminology, such as "so you were frustrated with the project because the deadline was an uncomfortable high?", earns bonus points.

Ask questions that help speakers think

After paraphrase, the next step is to pose questions that have an impact. These inquiries encourage presenters to delve deeper into their own thoughts, to clarify their expressions, or to think about potential concerns, much like a coach listens.
You can act as the devil's advocate by drawing attention to contradictions or ambiguous wording. These are all genuine gifts for a speaker and aid in maintaining your attention as they speak.

Interrupt politely

Interrupting someone isn't always impolite, and neither is active listening mindless enjoyment. Occasionally, presenters become mired in detail and provide more information than is necessary. They can maintain their relevance by interfering, and they'll get more interaction in return.
A question that allows them to continue speaking usually doesn't bother the speaker at all. It is far more difficult to cut someone off at a meeting and end their floor time, especially if they are an introvert. Make sure you:
  • Thank the speaker for bringing that up to validate their point.
  • Adopt a kind and courteous tone. Seek out opinions on how you seem and sound from other people.
  • Mention a common interest by saying something like, "I just want to make sure we hear from everyone about the project."

Tips to keep audiences engaged when you speak

Tips to keep audiences engaged when you speak
Tips to keep audiences engaged when you speak

Be relevant

Data won't excite many audiences because we are inundated with it. In fact, wordiness is frequently caused by the attempt to cover all the bases or anticipate all conceivable queries.
Particularly with online meetings, you need carefully select information for relevance if you want to keep participants interested. Consider this: How will my audience be affected by this information? How might that support them in their work? Does this amount of information help you grasp my primary point?
Think about removing some of the content if you are unable to clearly respond to these queries.

Be concise

Concision is the capacity to convey your ideas in the fewest possible terms and is a sign of executive presence. Because it demonstrates your preparation and consideration for their time, listeners value this. Concision also conveys confidence—the ability to say or do less, express it once, and have faith that it will be understood.
Many presenters find it difficult to be succinct, especially in virtual meetings when the feedback loop may be flat. To be explicit, they might say something again "just to be sure" or provide other instances. But when audiences become disinterested after getting the point the first time, this type of "more" frequently amounts to less.
Making a bold move requires faith. the conviction that your communication is clear and that you have prepared yourself. Maintaining this faith becomes more difficult in online sessions while the cameras are off.
As a speaker, you might want to encourage your audience to be fully present and turn on cameras for your own self-care. Then, reward them with a confident delivery of your speech.

Leave spaces for the audience to fill

Pausing after a point is one method to check in with listeners and slow down. Not only a moment to gather your thoughts, but a dedicated area for quiet. It creates a space for your listeners to fill, both virtually and in person, giving you immediate input on what they need next.
To what extent do they want you to drill down? Do they genuinely have the inquiries you planned to respond to? Or are they going entirely in a different path with your ideas?
Silence frequently makes us nervous, as though something is amiss. However, silence breeds silence, and you might be shocked at what your listeners have to say when they are allowed to speak up.
Regardless of how they occupy the space, you could pick up helpful tips on how to align and go forward. At that point, dialogue turns into dancing.

Treat pushback as openings, not obstacles

You might think that if you present a strong argument, people should immediately agree with you. which, naturally, hardly ever occurs. When your suggestions are contested, you become irritated and sometimes even defensive as you attempt to defend your position. Before you know it, boundaries are drawn, one side doubles down, and you're trapped.
You might want to reconsider how you handle resistance in order to prevent such a shutdown of your ideas. It's common for fresh ideas to not be accepted in their original form, and it's possible that your audience doesn't require you to know all the answers to their queries.
Consider your proposal as a first move, and the resistance as a prompt to have the necessary conversation. To validate and investigate the worry, ask follow-up questions rather than defending yourself reflexively.

Final thoughts on Effective Communication Skills

You have a great deal of influence over how your team communicates as a manager and leader. Even while it's simple to slip into poor communication practices, particularly when switching to a more digital interface, a change in one person's communication style can lead to a drastic change in the way an entire organization operates.
It takes time to develop good communication skills, but the benefits pay off at every organizational level.

FAQ for Effective Communication Skills

What are the 5 types of communication to develop?

  • Oral communication: Speaking to share thoughts (presentations, conversations, calls).
  • Written communication: Using words to exchange ideas (emails, notes, signage).
  • Non-verbal communication: Sharing information without words (body language, gestures, tone, facial expressions).
  • Active listening: Taking in information, asking questions for understanding.
  • Contextual communication: Exchanging information based on shared understanding (spoken or unspoken) about various topics.

What is effective communication?

Effective communication involves:
  • Actively listening to others while clearly conveying information yourself.
  • Communicating inclusively while welcoming verbal and non-verbal feedback.
  • Connecting with your audience regardless of the communication method.

How can I improve my communication skills?

  • Keep messages simple and clear.
  • Tailor messages to your audience.
  • Choose the most effective communication method (written vs. spoken).
  • Engage your audience through participation.
  • Utilize face-to-face communication when possible.
  • Make eye contact and ask for feedback.
  • Read non-verbal cues and minimize distractions.

How can I improve my online communication?

  • Stick to time limits and avoid lengthy Q&A sessions.
  • Be mindful of others' demands and organize content appropriately.
  • Summarize key points to confirm understanding in emails and meetings.
  • Acknowledge all messages, even if brief.
Additional tips for sharpening communication skills:
  • Be approachable and patient.
  • Be self-aware and acknowledge challenges in communication.
  • Check for understanding by asking questions and soliciting comments.
  • Rotate communication roles within teams to give everyone a chance to practice.

How can I be a better active listener?

  • Focus on adding value by encouraging deeper thinking and highlighting blind spots.
  • Paraphrase without judgment to demonstrate understanding.
  • Ask questions that help speakers think further and clarify their points.
  • Interrupt politely to maintain relevance and keep the speaker engaged.

How can I keep audiences engaged when I speak?

  • Be relevant and focus on information that impacts your audience.
  • Be concise and avoid wordiness to demonstrate preparation and respect for time.
  • Leave space for audience participation by pausing after key points.
  • Treat pushback as openings for discussion and ask clarifying questions.

Here are some relevant sources