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How to develop Effective Communication Skills

This article is very relevant to anyone who is interested on how to develop their communication skills.
Effective communication skills

What is effective communication skills?

I wrote this blog in September 2018 as part of a school assignment at Strathmore Business School. I wrote it to pass my exams then, but today I find it very relevant to anyone interested on how to develop their communication skills. That is why I am sharing it. 

How true is the statement that says “if you know how to communicate you can go anywhere”. Since a long time I have been hearing people alluding to this statement, but I did not put much thought into it. The reason why this statement never awoken any nerves in me is because I have always assumed that communication is all about oral speaking, having a good voice, and eloquence. To me, good communicators were those people who can entertain a crowd using their voices notwithstanding what they said. To consider an example, people always said that if you are not a good communicator, you can never win a political office in Kenya. This is because politicians go around making statements that excite crowds while behaving in an uncouth manner. Regardless of this, many politicians make their way to victory by hurling insults.

The above story reveals what my understanding of communication has been for quite a long time. I did know that I had misinformed myself about what communication is. I always thought saying something that makes me earn favor is what communication was all about. I had blindfolded myself to the extent that I did not recognize how politicians struggle while making official statements. I ignored to appreciate the fact that many politicians must have written speeches while in official meetings, most of which are done by professional speech writers. Someone told me one day that, if you abruptly invite a Kenyan Politician to give a talk in a meeting, he will send his assistant. This is because, in actual sense, most politicians are poor communicators.

The moment I started my lesson of effective communication mid this year (courtesy of the Bridge Africa), I was shocked to discover how I have been in the dark for so long. In fact, I was worried to see that at my age I didn’t know what communication is (am still worried about many other things I might have been ignoring without knowing). First of all, I found out that communication has nothing to do with your voice, having a soft voice of heavy voice does not make someone a good or bad communicator. I understood that politicians are in no way good communicators but mare beneficiaries of miscommunication. I discovered that communication is a mental process and not a variation of voice.

How can one develop Effective Communication Skills?

 Delivering effective communication starts with preparing what to say and saying it using a structured method that allows the message to flow in a logical manner. When you open your mouth to speak or pick your pen to write, you should not only think about the core message, but also the logical flow of the message. By this I mean, the structure of your message must follow a “chronological’ kind of structure. Imagine of a storyteller who is narrating about the road to independence for Kenya. If he wants his audience to understand and follow his story with ease, he must structure his message following the order of years. For example, he could choose to start from the present to the past or vice versa. It is only by doing so that the audience will not get confused by the story.

In the same manner, people who possess effective communication skills are those who know what to say and how to say it. one trick towards good communication is always is by remembering to break the ice at the beginning of your communication process. Let people know what you are going to talk about in your introduction message. Don’t be caught in the trap of saying “That is what I  was talking about”. Rather, have a habit of saying “ I am going to talk about…”. This will give your message a logical structure making it easy for you to deliver the message, as well as easy for your audience to follow and understand your story.

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