By Goke Ilesanmi
To get your dream job, impress prospective or existing employers, boost your career or achieve business success, you need the employability or general skill of effective communication. Communication is simply defined as the process by which information is shared between two people or organisations, or among individuals, etc. It is very critical to success in (almost) all areas, including career and business. For communication to be relevant, we must ensure it is effective. It is effective when the intended feedback or result is achieved.
There are four communication skills you need to master. These are speaking, listening, reading and writing. Listening and reading are called Receptive Skills because they are about assimilation or comprehension; while speaking and writing are called Transmitting Skills because they are about information dissemination or projection. And mastery of all these skills is very important.
That is, you need to be able to speak well at meetings and in public and listen attentively to others without attempting to interrupt like a compulsive or domineering talker. You also need to be able to read voraciously to acquire necessary knowledge and intellectual leadership because readers are leaders. Finally, you need to need to master effective writing skills. In short, you need to be good at writing speeches, letters, proposals, business plans, reports, emails, memos, etc., as a worker, business person, pastor, consultant, etc.
Potency of speaking
Speaking is the most potent, most important and most sensitive of the four communication skills. It can make or mar a career. If it is well deployed as required, personal and/or corporate image is rapidly and immediately enhanced. But if it is done otherwise, the effects can be irredeemably damaging to individuals and/or organisations.
Speaking is a crowd-puller and stimulates immediacy of attention. With a single mouth, one can address a whole country, continent or the world simultaneously. So it has the benefits of immediacy of information dissemination, access to accuracy of information from the original speaker, etc. Unlike written words, spoken words are less mentally taxing (not “tasking”, please) for the audience because we exert less energy listening than reading. That is why people find it easier listening to news than reading newspapers.
Speaking is also a communication indicator because we can know if somebody is listening or not by telling him or her to speak. For instance, a speaker can test if people are actually listening by simply saying “raise your hand if your mind is not here and say ‘great’”. And those who are actually not listening will do as comically commanded.
We can also know if somebody is reading a distributed document or not immediately through request for oral feedback. Also, if someone is a voracious reader, it is through speaking that he or she can effectively project his or her intellectual competence in a gathering for immediate commendation.
Equally, if someone is a prolific writer, he or she will naturally get invited to speak at events. His or her ability or inability to speak fluently, especially on areas he or she has shown writing expertise will determine how people will eventually rate his or her true intelligence and/or originality or credibility of his or her writing.
Self-positioning through speaking
One of the ways to excel in life is to know how to effectively position, sell or market yourself in every situation. And effective speaking ability is very critical to success in this area. That is, every time you open your mouth to communicate, you have to sell yourself. If not, such communication is ineffective or of low value.
Arch Lustberg, a communication expert who taught Speech and Drama at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. for 10 years, says we normally think of selling as being product-oriented. But this is just one aspect of selling.
According to Lustberg, in the case of selling products, the factors are usually the salesperson and the price. And even when there is a slight price difference, we rarely buy any big-ticket item from someone we really dislike. It is about the same for people because the only time we pay close attention to an idea being communicated by someone we do not like is when we have a heavy personal or emotional interest in the subject.
One can have the best message in the world, but if one does not present the message the intended way, one is probably communicating the wrong message.
There are three things you need to sell yourself. These are competence, likeability and luck. If you are competent, people will naturally like you or be compelled to relate with you. For instance, if you are competent, people hardly think about your religion, tribe or gender before making you a leader or doing you a favour. In the same vein, if a student is a genius, his or her classmates will naturally relate well with him or her because of intellectual benefits derivable from such a relationship and can even make him or her their leader too.
That means competence will naturally lead to likeability; and combination of competence and likeability will almost always deliver the third, that is, what people will tag “luck” because of the torrents of benefits the person will be enjoying.
It is noteworthy that competence and likeability are not enough. While competence and likeability will almost always deliver “luck” to you, one potent instrument that is very critical to your being able to advertise your competence and become likeable and “lucky” is the power of effective public speaking or oral presentation skills.
This is why an average but articulate and confident candidate often outshines brilliant but inarticulate candidates at an oral job interview.
More than ever before, people are now being increasingly called upon to present their information publicly to co-workers, customers, etc. To get ahead, you must make presentation. Being an excellent presenter will enhance your business, career and social life. Organisations from time to time make presentations to existing and prospective customers to sustain and increase their customer base. This means that if your staff cannot display enviable oral (and written) communication skills, your business is paying the price in lost time, lost customers and lost revenues.
To be continued
GOKE ILESANMI (FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425