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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

How to Set Communication Goals to Improve Your Social Relationships

How to Set Communication Goals to Improve Your Social Relationships

Communication is essential for maintaining healthy social relationships. It is also a major vehicle of progress.

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers identifies communication skills as the most sought quality in job candidates.[1] Many of the setbacks experienced on the path to success can be traced to the inability to communicate accurately and effectively.

It is, therefore, essential to set communication goals to boost your reputation, strengthen your relationships, and improve your work delivery.

This article is about how to set communication goals and what those goals should include.

What Are the Goals of Communication?

Whether it is personal or corporate communication, the primary essence of communication is to inform, influence, inspire, motivate, build relationships, learn, gain inspiration, promote yourself, and socialize.[2] Communication is also used for persuasion, negotiation, and improving work delivery.

To achieve the goals of communications mentioned above and make the most of your conversations, you can deliberately set your own communication goals. You can gear these goals towards improving or developing your verbal, non-verbal, and written communication skills.

How to Write Communication Goals

1. Identify the Areas of Deficiency

Writing your communication goals begins with identifying your areas of deficiency in communication. To identify these areas, you have to evaluate your life and work, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the things that have drawn you back the most in your relationship with people or at work?
  • What feedback do you get from friends and colleagues?
  • What are the things you have been unable to achieve because of your perceived limitations in some areas of communication?

2. Define What You Want to Achieve

Now that you have identified your areas of deficiency, you need to define what you want to achieve. This would be how you want to fill the gaps that you have identified or how you want to develop yourself.

3. Outline the Goals

Outlining your communication goals involve writing out what you desire to achieve and to what extent you want to achieve them. It also includes when you intend to get results for your goals

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4. Make Your Communication Goal SMART

The idea of making goals SMART is to make your goals feasible. A popular quote about setting goals states that “a goal properly set is halfway reached.”

Many goals that are not properly set end up as unfulfilled dreams. Therefore, you have to set your goals in Specific terms, with measurable objectives, writing out how they are achievable and relevant to your needs, and the timelines you hope to achieve them.

14 Examples of Communication Goals

1. Improve on Diction

One of the things that can make your communication effective is your diction. Diction has to do with your style of speaking or writing which is determined by your choice of words when conveying an idea or point of view.[3]

Your choice of words should fit into the context in which they are used so that the listener or reader can easily understand the message you are passing across.

Master the appropriate use of words in communication contexts

2. Be More Engaging When Communicating

To be engaging is to be able to draw in a person (or an audience) with interesting content or conversation.[4] If you want your audience/recipient to commit attention when listening to you or reading from you, you have to devise ways to be engaging with your content.

Develop the set of skills required to keep an audience interested and engaged in a conversation

3. Become an Active Listener

There are two gates to the mind: the gate of the eyes, and the gate of the ear.

The key to comprehending what is being said is active listening. If there is a missing link when listening, some information may not be fully comprehended, leading to faulty feedback or response.

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Create weekly sessions for active listening without any form of distraction

4. Manage Emotions

Giving or receiving information comes with lots of emotions such as excitement, sadness, shock, fear, surprise, anger, elation, depression, hurt, etc. The expression of emotions can make or mar effective communication. Great communicators learn to put emotions under control.

Practice putting emotions under control and respond to information based on what is best in facilitating mutual understanding and progress.

5. Become Relatable

Being relatable means keeping the lines of communication open so that people can be naturally drawn to you[5].

This is an essential social and work skill. You don’t want to miss out on important information or miss the crucial feedback that you can get from people about themselves, yourself, and your work. Pull down communication barriers and develop habits and skills that make you a relatable individual.

6. Effective Email Communication

Email has become a vital tool for communication, especially for work and business. You have probably sent and received tons of emails from people you have never met, but this email contact with them has already given you some perspectives about them.

Learning how to communicate appropriately and professionally via email can help you get more cooperation from associates and win you more business. Learn how to be courteous and professional when handling email conversations.

7. Be Persuasive

Being able to sell yourself and your ideas is an essential skill. While you don’t have to always have your way when communicating with people, you have to sound convincing.

Being persuasive is a skill that would be especially useful when you are dealing with skeptics or you find yourself in a competitive environment. Learn the techniques of persuasion and apply them in conversations.

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8. Improve Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is described as “a process where two or more parties with different needs and goals discuss an issue to find a mutually acceptable solution.”[6] This skill is essential in finding common grounds with people and avoiding reaching a deadlock in conversations.

By learning how to negotiate, you will also be able to win more things for yourself in difficult situations. Improve your negotiation skills so you can always get the best possible result.

9. Be Objective in Conversations

To be objective is to reflect on situations based on facts rather than personal feelings, self interpretations, or prejudice.

People who are not objective can be difficult to deal with as they only see things from their point of view. When you are objective, however, you will be able to look at issues with an open mind and that would lead to having robust conversations.

Let the goal of every conversation be to understand and speak of facts rather than opinions.

10. Give Constructive Criticism

Criticism is what we give when we find some inadequacies in what someone else has done. Most people are quick to point out what someone has done wrong without proferring solutions. Show people what they have done wrong, but also appreciate what they have done right and also show them how they can be better.

Develop the consciousness to always give constructive criticism.

11. Be Inspiring

To be inspiring, you need to be enthusiastic. You also have to genuinely care about people and show them how they can be their best.

Also, do things deliberately to show example and inspire others. Go all out in inspiring people with your work and deeds.

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12. Improve on Team Communication

Team communication involves all interaction and exchanges of information that goes on in a team [7].

If you are a part of a team, you need to play your part to keep the line of communication going so that the team can achieve its goals. Always communicate actively with your team to help achieve its goals.

13. Understand Body Language

Communication goes beyond what is being said. There are other things to look out if you want to comprehend the information someone is passing across and discern their intents. This includes eye contact, facial expression, gesticulation, etc.

Learn how to read body language and their implication in a conversation

14. Improve on Communication Follow-Up

Most communication encounters don’t end at once. Thus, there is the need to follow up and tie up loose ends, get feedbacks, set reminders, or move on to the next things.

Failure to follow up might lead to missing out on important outcomes. Some people might not take some matters seriously until they have been properly followed up. Follow up on important conversations and pursue matters to a reasonable end.

Final Thoughts

If you look deeper within yourself, you will find opportunities to improve your communication and make the best of your relationships. There is much to gain when you master the art of communication.

Knowing how to communicate and manage communications effectively is an essential skill both for now and for the future.

More Tips for Improving Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques What Are The Levels Of The Mind And How To Improve Them

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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:

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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  • 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

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