Advertising

How To Be Likeable By Improving Your Communication Skills

Advertising
How To Be Likeable By Improving Your Communication Skills

If the thought of conducting a conversation with someone conjures up feelings of anxiety then you’re not alone. Some people seem to have a natural ability to spark up interesting and engaging topics of discussion while you feel you struggle to think of anything or even the right thing to say. Perhaps you’ve started a new job and you find it hard to start or carry on conversations with your new colleagues, maybe you want to strike up casual conversation with people but you find the conversation doesn’t really develop.

The biggest misconception when it comes to good conversation is the idea that we need to keep the conversation going by any means possible. However, it’s all about the quality of the conversation rather than the amount you say.

Awkward conversations happen to all of us but there are ways to improve your communication skills that give you a head start on developing easy interactions with people. Much like any other skill, communication needs to be practised in order to build it up, so with some guidance you can start to strike up those conversations with confidence and show your true likability.

How To Improve Communication Skills

1. Ask The Right Type Of Questions

You’ve probably heard that talking too much and not asking questions is a sure-fire way to deaden a conversation. However, it’s all about asking the right type of questions.

Advertising

Questions that require a certain knowledge background, or are too broad or too difficult to answer in short simplified sentences, can leave the other person feeling uncomfortable and unable to answer. This, in turn, can create that conversational ‘dead air’ and can make it hard for the other person to continue the conversation.

Instead, to communicate in a positive way that allows the conversation to develop and grow, the questions should be simple, relatable and applicable. For example, you could ask something simple like “Are you watching any good TV shows these days?” and then explore more topics from the answers they give.

2. Avoid Negative Talk

One way we feel we can bond with others, either individually or in a group, is to speak negatively. For example, your boss is doing something your department doesn’t like so you take the opportunity to voice your negative opinions.

People who are equally fed up with the boss will join in but be aware that not all people will want to speak in such a negative way – it may not be in their nature or they just don’t want to create a negative environment therefore making it hard for them to respond. It may even hamper how some people perceive you.

Advertising

While speaking negatively can get things off your chest, make sure you strike a good balance between negative talk and positive. If you’re going to bad-mouth your boss for a decision she’s made, you can go on to say despite this she’s a great boss and you’re sure it’ll work out fine. This will allow you to be more likeable to people because, at the end of the day, no one likes a constant negative talker – it looks bad and doesn’t show your good side.

3. Use Interesting Language

By this I don’t mean you need to know fancy words! However, using plain and somewhat boring words can sometimes be a conversation killer. When describing anything – perhaps somewhere you’ve been or something you’ve done – make sure you don’t use too plain words.

For example, if someone asks about your holiday in Italy, don’t reply with “yes, it was really good!”. As much as it was ‘good’ using more descriptive words like ‘amazing’ or ‘marvellous’ evokes more excitement in the other person and allows them to want to probe further. It indicates that there is more to this story – the person now wants to know why it’s so amazing. ‘Good’ indicates it’s alright and nothing special – and who wants to know more about something that doesn’t sound all that exciting?!

Using more vivid and descriptive words can actually have an added benefit because you are forced to give more descriptions to match the expectations you’ve set up. Practising this will actually help your story-telling abilities in the long term so keep in mind lots of great descriptive words when speaking to people.

Advertising

4. Don’t Try To Control The Conversation

The need to control a conversation can be the downfall of many. The workplace can create many discussions – a meeting to talk about new ideas or maybe you’re having a debate with someone who has differing opinions to you.

The problem with trying to control a conversation is that we can get very emotionally invested and it often blinds us to the fact that we’re supposed to be having a two-way conversation. If you’re talking about something you’re passionate about, then don’t get personal with the other person – it’s not a competition or a win-lose situation. Don’t focus too much on the differences but instead find commonalities in both arguments.

Create segways not dead ends. Don’t respond with “I disagree” or “that’s ridiculous” because this shuts down your ability to see their point of view even of you really don’t agree. Instead, say “Well, what about this…” and give alternatives that open up airways for them to start talking.

Respect the other person and don’t make them feel bad about their belief. Doing this makes you come across as much more likeable in the long-run and doesn’t compromise your thoughts and beliefs. We all agree none of us like to feel under-minded especially about something we believe in and by using this tactic the person is more likely to reciprocate the respect.

Advertising

5. Demonstrate Empathy

It’s important to think about how we come across to others when we speak. Being sincere, for example, can sometimes come across as being impolite or offensive to someone. Be aware of the way in which others can interpret what you’re saying and by this I mean demonstrate a level of empathy.

Try to be understanding of others’ situations or experiences and take this into account when speaking to someone. People are far more likely to feel a connection to you and form longer and in depth conversations which will go towards developing your communication skills further.

Don’t make the conversation all about you either. It’s very easy to hop on the bandwagon when a particular topic comes up because you’re so excited that you have a topic to talk about. For example, if someone mentions they visited China, don’t immediately rush into a huge story about the time you went to China two years ago.

By doing this, you’ve now dominated their own conversation starter and taken away their chance to talk about what they wanted to say in the first place! Think about the other person when you talk – most of the time the person you talk to will follow suit and this can be the start of a beautiful conversation!

Advertising

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

More by this author

Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

How to Celebrate Small Wins to Achieve Big Goals Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset How To Overcome Self Imposed Limitations For Goal Setting To Reach Your Goals, Start With Planning For The Worst Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

Trending in Communication

1 10 Signs You Are in a Codependent Relationship (And What To Do About It) 2 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 3 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 4 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 5 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Advertising
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

Advertising

  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

Advertising

Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

Advertising

However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

Advertising

Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

Advertising

  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

Read Next