Hello everybody. I’m Victoria Rennoldson, Communication and Culture Coach, and welcome to Wednesday Words with communication and cultural strategies and skills for you to learn. You can choose to watch this by clicking ‘play’ on the video above, which also has subtitles.
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Today I’ll be talking about common communication mistakes, and how to overcome them.
I want to talk to you about these common ‘mistakes’, which I put in inverted commas, because I don’t really believe they are mistakes – they’re actually more myths, preconceptions, or ideas that people have about what it is to be a confident communicator.
And there are lots of these preconceptions, people approach it and have a fixed idea about what it means to be confident- how does that person sound? What do they look like? What do they do? What do they say?
I think we see confident communicators, whether these are people that we’re working with, we’re following, even TED speakers and we think: ‘Why can’t I do it just like them?’
Well, let me address this, because I believe this is incredibly important. I am a great believer in that there are no ‘mistakes’ (in inverted commas) in communication. In fact, it is really normal to make these ‘mistakes’, and that’s why I wanted to talk about the strategies you can use to overcome them. I consider this is critical for your performance today, and also for your future, for developing your career or your own business, so you can speak up, share your message and get your voice out there.
So let’s start with ‘mistake’ 1: you get stuck in your own head, and doubt your own abilities. This is a common one, when we’re feeling nervous, we’re not so confident in our communication style, and it’s easy to get stuck inside our heads and think, ‘oh gosh, this is what they’re thinking about me… this is how they’re judging me… this is what they’re taking out of what I’m saying…’ and it’s a bit of a spiral. I talked about Confidence Spirals in a recent episode, and as a reminder we need to get out of our heads and focussed on the other people.
Whether you’re in a meeting or a presentation, no matter what the communication is, I want you to have a real think about the other people that you’re going to be communicating with. Consider: what is it they want to know? What is it they need to know? Think about: what’s the best way to connect with them? How are you going to land the key messages that you need to share? And by focussing on the other people, rather than yourself, you’ll find that that the voice in your head, the doubts in your mind, start to lessen. Also have that self-belief – believing and knowing that you have something important to say and that it’s something that the others do want to hear, that they want you to do well, they want you to communicate what you have to say.
‘Mistake’ 2: you hear your own voice, and you don’t like it. Some of my clients talk about this, that they start to hear their voice and start to cringe. They find themselves getting self-focussed and that limits their communication performance. What I’d say about this, is that you need to keep speaking, no matter what. So even if you’re hearing your voice and you don’t like it, then just keep going. If you lose your way, or you’re feeling like you’re not sure how to say something, focus on saying it simply and getting to the next point. Don’t worry too much about how you sound. It’s quite difficult to judge your own voice, and if you want to get used to it, then record yourself, either in voice or video recording, and listen back to see how your voice is coming across. But the main thing is here, it may not be about your voice, it’s about the message you’ve got to share, getting it out there, making sure that you’re heard.
‘Mistake’ 3: the fear of the long pause… People get quite anxious if they suddenly stop, lose their way, forget what they want to say, and then it almost becomes a spiral again, where they worry about how they’re going to get going again. If you do lose your way, or make a mistake and suddenly pause, and that pause goes on slightly longer than you want, then smile, laugh at yourself, check your notes again, and then move on to the next point. You don’t have to be absolutely perfect in everything you do with your communication. It is much better to use the smile and the laugh to lighten up the mood and keep the communication going. There’s no need to fear the pause. The pause can be your friend, and actually help you re-orientate where you are in your message.
‘Mistake’ 4: you speak too fast. I think this one happens when we’re nervous, as we want to get to the end. Or we want to try and remember the key points and get the message out there. If we speak too fast, then it can be hard for other people to understand us and follow exactly what it is we want to say. It is much better to try and slow down, to regularly pause, make sure we give that time and space for the others to digest the information, and the key messages that we want to land.
‘Mistake’ 5: you believe you’re the only person struggling with communication challenges. This is clearly not true, we are all human, and we all have our struggles when it comes to communication confidence. Even the most confident communicators have their ‘off’ days, and it is a journey, we’re always learning and improving. The more we practice the skill of communication, the more natural it becomes to us, and the easier it becomes. And the journey is what hat everybody goes on, even the most confident communicators have their struggles, also have started from a point where they were building up their communication confidence. So do remember this, it isn’t just you, everybody is human, and we all go through these experiences. Plus in most situations, others are willing you to do well.
Finally, ‘mistake’ 6: you want to be perfect. If you know me, then ‘perfect’ is a concept which is tricky for me, because I believe in Communication Agility, which is about having the flexibility to express yourself in a number of different ways, even if you say it simply, which is much better than trying to aim for perfection. Perfection may sound good in the moment, but it can come at high cost, and isn’t necessarily the best way to connect with others. We are much better to approach communication as normal conversations, whatever the situation is, whether it’s a meeting or presentation, where we potentially make mistakes, pause too long, or we could lose our way, and trust we have the ability to find a way back to what the key message is. This is much better to aim for, rather than to aim for perfection.
So today we have busted some of the key myths behind some of these communication ‘mistakes’, and I hope this reframe will help you make progress on your own communication confidence journey, towards being the confident communicator that you want to be.
I do hope that’s been useful for you, and if you have any questions about this then please do get in touch, I always love to hear your feedback your comments, what you have found particularly useful today.
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Thank you so much for joining me today for Wednesday Words, see you next time!