Understanding the psychology of the audience or the group of recipients of the communication is an important communication skill. Communicating or initiating the message constitutes a stimulus, for which a response is expected from the audience.
For the response to be meaningful, the communicator should ensure that the recipient is receptive. In order to achieve this, the communicator should collect and analyze relevant information relating to the audience beforehand, such as their characteristics, moods, level of responsiveness, expectations and awareness.
The skill of the communicator lies in making the message and delivery relevant and timely to the recipients, so that they evince interest and become active listeners. This is particularly important in various kinds of verbal communication—speech, meeting, presentation, counselling and negotiation.
In written communication too, especially while sending non-routine letters which are motivational in nature and seek a high degree of participation and action, understanding the profile of the addressee assumes relevance. Verbal and non-verbal messages should be tailored to meet the level of expectations to the extent desirable.
1. Build Your Confidence:
This is yet another essential in developing effective skills. The communicator may have the knowledge, understanding, physical facilities and material support and yet fail to impress or deliver the message appropriately.
This can be eschewed by ensuring that along with learning all other relevant communication and interpersonal skills, a person also builds the required level of confidence in facing, addressing and interacting with the target group.
When a person lacks confidence, it becomes evident to the recipient. As a result, the credibility of the communicator suffers. The communicator should not only start on a note of confidence, but should also sustain it till the end.
Confidence building is done through conscious efforts—by acquiring conceptual clarity, by knowing the audience profile in advance, by resorting to meaningful intrapersonal communication and, above all, through a positive, sincere approach. Practice too helps. Have faith in yourself, and it translates into effective communication.
2. Reading Skills:
Good reading is another important prerequisite in making communication effective. In today’s business world, knowledge commands a premium. A person who has a good understanding of various subjects, especially those in one’s line of activity, operates from a high level of confidence.
On the contrary, ignorance or insufficient knowledge leads to diffidence. Good reading habits prepare a person in articulating and giving expression to his thoughts. Varied and the right kind of reading provides the much needed preparedness in dealing with a variety of people and situations. Reading results in learning which, like good listening, helps communication.
While rapid speaking is not necessarily a commendable trait, rapid reading is eminently desirable. Reading rapidly, without missing the essence, is a skill that can be acquired. The speed at which reading takes place varies considerably from person to person.
With conscious efforts and regular practice, people can read up to 50 pages an hour. It is said that US President John F Kennedy used to read at an amazing speed of 240 pages an hour.
Another US President Woodrow Wilson was known to read even faster Commenting on such speed-reading skills, Christian Godefroy and John Clark, in their celebrated book, ‘The Management System’ observe, ‘The mind of the poor reader loafs along picking up very small units at a time, while the eyes of the excellent reader race over the lines, gathering an entire meaningful idea at each glance.’
In business and profession, as one goes up the ladder, one will have to necessarily read a whole lot of reports, memos, letters, analytical notes, sales literature, magazines and books, be they handwritten or in print. Each did every piece of writing need not necessarily receive the same level of attention. Some need intensive reading, some need adequate reading, some need browsing and some others need just a casual or fleeting glance. The skilful reader learns to discriminate and allocate just the right share of time for all reading materials put up to him. Unless one is acutely conscious of the relative time allocation, it is very easy to fritter away one’s time on detailed reading of unimportant papers.
One must make a conscious choice of what to read and what not to. There is so much reading material that everybody comes across in personal and business life. The advent of electronic communication has made it further imperative for all of us to make a conscious choice.
Apart from all the handwritten, typewritten and printed material put up to us, there is also the vast e-mail communication, vying for our attention all the time. One must learn to discard the irrelevant pieces of writing, whatever form they may take, prioritize the rest, allocate the right share of time to them and most importantly, develop the skill of speed reading.
People with good reading skills develop the trait of reading fast without really missing comprehension or assimilation. Such people train their eyes and mind so well that they absorb the crucial and relevant messages and can even point out mistakes and inconsistencies quite effortlessly. There is tremendous advantage to a person who has mastered the art of effective speed reading.
Communication skills thus cover a vast area and can be developed through conscious effort. For some persons, good communication skills are a god-given gift and the flow is effortless. Others will have to work on them and acquire proficiency through practice and hard work.
A good piece of communication—be it a speech or a presentation or a write up— stands out. It has the potential to create a deep impact. Moreover, there is so much diversity and versatility in the styles of communication.
Each good speaker or writer can be different from others and yet create a distinct impression and the desired impact. An accomplished communicator can certainly achieve quite a large measure of success in dealing with people and situations.