Everyone needs to master strong verbal communication skills. They are extremely valuable in both your personal and professional life. When you speak clearly, confidently, and with poise, you are much more likely to command the respect from others and build rapport. This is particularly important in business interactions, especially if you are using the international language, English.
Below are some tips that will help you improve your verbal communication skills, whether in person or over the phone so that you can better connect with your audience, earn respect, and build the relationships necessary for successful business interactions.
Imagine a newly-born baby. In the beginning, the young child does not understand language as such but communicates through body language, crying and so on. Then it starts to engage more actively with its parents, who speak to it constantly. While the baby cannot speak properly for several years, the baby is also a great listener. Our understanding is always one step ahead of our practical ability to speak and this is especially the case when learning English as a foreign language. Work on improving your understanding of English by exposing yourself to the language as often as possible. Great listeners and observers make great speakers!
Often, the most confident ones are the most active and vocal students in any classroom. Being afraid to make mistakes in English will almost certainly lead to nervousness, which in turn produces a higher incidence of speech errors. At the same time, being overly confident can mean your ego gets in the way of progress. There is always room for a little constructive criticism and self-analysis but we should be proud of our achievements and sure in our ability to speak English well. If you are ever shy or embarrassed about making mistakes when speaking English, remember this: the vast majority of our mistakes in a foreign language come directly from our mother tongue and this is a 100% natural process.
When trying to express your thoughts and ideas, knowing more words in a language gives you greater choice and power. Having a larger vocabulary will help you understand native speakers better and read more complicated texts. Remember that there are always several ways of saying the same thing and knowing more words will simply mean you can express an idea faster and more directly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the new words and phrases you learn.
Poor pronunciation is a barrier to fluent spoken English and if you fail to clearly distinguish certain sounds you may be misunderstood. Native English speakers often use contractions and connected speech to make pronunciation easier. It is a good idea to select a speech model you like – for example, the newsreader or a favourite actor – and try to copy how they speak English. Listen and notice where your pronunciation differs from that of the native speaker.
Films provide great listening practice and insights into “real” speech situations involving native English speakers. Material of this kind often contains a wide range of vocabulary, including slang, professional jargon and popular expressions in the modern language. If you regularly watch new films and TV programmes, you will always have your finger on the pulse of current English usage.
At the end of the day, there is no substitute for real conversation practice with a native English speaker. If you don’t live in an English-speaking country and don’t have native English friends, then a logical alternative is to take conversational lessons with an English teacher. Regular 1-to-1 speech practice will give you the targeted approach you need to make fast progress with your English speaking skills.