Developing Communication Skills

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Developing Communication Skills (2:43)

“Think about the communication as a two-way channel. You’re conveying something to them. And then secondly, decide what it is that is most important for them to know, why is it that they should be listening to what you’re trying to convey to them?”

Role models in order of appearance: Myra Jolivet, Almetria Vaba, Susan V. Booth, Yvette Huygen, Leah McGowen-Hare, and Anne Feighan.

Quick Start

1) During the video, the role models explained how important it was to think before you speak. What do you think this statement means? How can preparing ahead of time help you become a better communicator?

2) One role model told us that communication is a two-way channel with one person talking and the other person listening. How can you make sure people listen to what you have to say? How can you become a better listener when someone else is speaking?

3) The video taught listeners that good communication begins with being a good listener. What do you think is meant by this sentence? How do you feel when someone listens well to you? Why do you think that is?

4) When you speak in a low, confident, and calm voice people trust you. Do you agree with this sentence? Why or why not? Who would you trust more: someone who is speaking calmly or someone who is screaming and yelling? Explain your reasoning.

5) When you are trying to convince someone to agree with your ideas, it’s important to use language that “paints pictures.” This is language that helps the other person understand what you mean. Why is it important to get the other person to understand the situation from your point of view? How can understanding someone else’s point of view help you communicate your wishes better?

6) One of the role models said that if you want to become a better communicator, you should record yourself as you present information (speak). Then, watch the recording. Why would watching your own presentation help you improve your communication skills? Tell why it might be valuable to record and review yourself speaking over time.

7) It’s easy to be nervous when you don’t know what you’re talking about. What’s the best way for you to know what you’re talking about so you won’t be nervous when speaking? Even with preparation, people can feel nervous when speaking before others. What are some other ways to stay calm when giving a presentation?

Video Transcript

Let’s break down communications into a formula. The absolute best way to communicate with someone is to listen. Listening is your first wave of communications. When you listen to people, you understand where to bridge that gap and meet them halfway.

Think about the communication as a two-way channel. You’re conveying something to them. And then secondly, decide what it is that is most important for them to know, why is it that they should be listening to what you’re trying to convey to them?

When you speak confident truth and you are unafraid, your body will automatically lower your voice. When people hear a low, authentic, confident voice, they trust the speaker. So first and foremost, learn where your real voice is.

Another technique in communications is to use what we call analogies. So we advise people in communications to, as much as they can, paint pictures with your language. So when you’re describing things, give somebody a visual or give them something that it can remind them of. Say, “It’s like this,” or, “It’s kind of like when you X, Y, Z.” Those are good communications points.

In your life, you’re going to have to get up and speak in front of people or try to influence people somewhere in your life, even if it’s just your family. And that can be really scary to do sometimes. And all I suggest is really think about what you want to say, the thought you want to express.

Present and record yourself and watch yourself and go, “Oh, okay. That will tell you. Everybody has an outlet for their nervous energy, so you need to figure out what is that for you and then work with that. So that’s just on that. But also, know what you’re presenting on.

When you don’t know what you’re talking about is when you get nervous. And so the more research you do ahead of time, the more you practice it on your friends, your family, whoever wants to listen, the more confident you’re going to be in your presentation and the stronger it’ll be. Think about what you really want to express. Try to do it in the clearest, calmest way possible, and always be true to yourself. Really have it come from your heart, and then it’s very rare that you could go wrong.

Discussion Guide

Independent Learning Guide: This all-purpose guide can be used by educators, parents, and mentors to jumpstart a lively discussion about effective communication.

Classroom Lesson Plan

Want to crush that next presentation? Learn practical strategies and tips for improving communication skills, including to make speaking in front of people way less scary!

Classroom Lesson Plan: This step-by-step lesson plan is available to guide a more in-depth “before, during, and after” learning experience when viewing the video with students. This lesson plan is also suitable for use in after-school programs and other educational settings.

Empowerment Activity

Use Empowerment Activities as a fun way to reinforce the video topic and build community with your students.

Related Empowerment Activities:

Fun Page Activity

Fun Page Activity: What’s the best way to avoid being nervous when you give a presentation? Take this quick quiz to see what you know about six keys to communication. Plus, try “painting a picture” of a favorite place!