Improving Communication

Gary R. Collins, psychologist, teacher, author and speaker, offers these insights he has learned about communication:

Good communication is difficult. It requires work.

Knowing your audience is crucial. I never write an article or agree to speak without first inquiring about the nature of the audience. Different audiences need to be approached in different ways.

We can learn about communication by watching others. When you read a book or listen to a speaker, look for the content but also watch what the communicator is doing. How is he or she connecting with the audience? What is effective or ineffective about the teaching?

Sometimes I take notes in two columns. One is for notes about the content; the other has notes about the communicator’s methods.

Learning from the pros also helps. (Consult instructional books or videos produced by effective communicators.)

Keep improving. Whenever I teach a class or give a talk that I’ve given before, my preparation always involves working to improve on what came earlier. When the same old talks are given in the same old ways, usually they sound like same old talks that have been given before.

Good communication, especially in public speaking, flows out of careful preparation, effective presentation, and passion in the speaker.

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