If you’re looking for a resolution this year that is a little different than “I’m going to stop eating desserts”, we have some communication skills resolutions that will help your career by helping you connect better with audiences.
Here are five New Year’s resolutions that will improve your speaking skills. We’ve listed them in reverse order of importance. But all will make you a better communicator.
5. “I resolve to make only three points.” Most presentations end and the listeners aren’t sure what to take away. To avoid this common mistake, begin preparing your presentation by writing down your three key messages in the form of short “bumper stickers.” Deliver your presentation by stating your three bumper stickers at the beginning. Then divide your speech into three sections, detailing the ideas and stories behind your “bumper stickers.” Then repeat the bumper stickers at the end.
4. “I resolve to speak with passion.” Most people in business speak like they’re bored. Don’t let that be you. We don’t want you to come across as a used-car salesperson. But you should speak to the audience with the same energy that you would use during an energetic dinner conversation with a friend. Of course, a presentation doesn’t feel like dinner. So you have to really “push” the energy.
3. “I resolve to tell more stories.” Think about the best presentations you’ve ever heard. They almost always involve stories. Usually a lot of stories. If you’re trying to sell software, tell a story of another company that has used the software successfully. If you’re explaining how to complete a difficult task, tell a story of another person who completed the task and how she did it. Stories bring a presentation to life.
2. “I resolve to leave half my time for questions.” You read that correctly. Half your time. Leaving plenty of time for questions ensures that your listeners get what they want from the presentation. And that’s why you’re there: to help your audience.
1. “I resolve to rehearse.” Nothing can make you better faster than rehearsing your presentations extensively. When you rehearse your presentation, you’re better able to speak with energy, you’re better able to adjust when things go wrong (and they often do), and you’re better able to inspire confidence.
Joey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”