Want to be a great communicator? Focus on this one thing.

It takes discipline to be a great communicator. Nancy Duarte, Resonance

None of us has any more time than the next person. Yet some of us wish we had done better to plan our next speech – taken more time to think it through, to rehearse or even to relate it to our listeners.

As easy as it is, in theory, to talk, to be a great communicator requires time, focus and effort, regularly. Discipline.

We each fall into a communication style laced with assets and patterns that create barriers.

Consider the D’s style. They are fast-paced, speak on-the-fly and willing to speak up without much thought in advance. Their communication style contributes to great amounts of power, yet unless they invest in time for planning and feedback from neutral parties, their power is limited.

C’s have a slightly different approach. Whereas the D is fast-paced, C’s give much more thought prior to speaking. From this research and analysis they have bundles of information at their disposal. The most conscientious and accountable, C’s can overwhelm listeners with too much information until they practice speaking up more regularly, focusing on simple points.

S’s keep a steady, poised communication style which leads to calm thinking and good leadership, but again, unless S’s get out of their own way – just like the others mentioned – they won’t put themselves out there very often.

Finally, the remaining communication style is the I. The most influential of all styles based on their eagerness to communicate and their interest in their listeners, I’s constantly have to break down the soft-skill barrier by adding meat to their message.

Because communicating is both a conscious and unconscious thing, we need feedback to become aware of things that detract from our message and sometimes even want proof that we are communicating effectively. All the DISC styles, (the four listed above) require discipline to pay attention to what we habitually do well and how we habitually get in our own way. With discipline, we take the time to think first, to test our confidence, to clarify our message focus and to pay attention to the needs of listeners.

Discipline.

Prior to a difficult conversation, presentation, argument or other public speaking endeavor, use discipline to enhance your confidence, your clarity and your audience connection. 

1. Note the main points you wish to make. Look at the note prior to refresh your memory and help you shift from passion to logic, as needed.

2. Practice saying the content of your thoughts aloud. This gives you the chance to voice your ideas, simply.

3. Look in the mirror or record from your webcam. This helps you notice things going on with your body or gestures or facial expressions that can detract from your message.

4. Use a test-audience before a high-stakes presentation. A handful of people can give you feedback based on their individual communication styles. This perspective is extremely insightful.

Without using these steps, we naturally get in our own way. But using them we enhance our power, our pleasure, our pride and our peace of mind. All it takes is discipline.

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