Monday, June 21, 2010

Speak With Your Mind, Not Just What's On Your Mind

Speaking comes so naturally to many of us that we often lose sight of those who are listening. If we kept our listeners in mind, we would speak with our minds engaged. Here are a few tips for speaking in a virtual space:

Environment: Try to eliminate any background noise or distractions - anything that could interfere with you understanding others and others understanding you

Pace: Think about who you have on the line. Are there any non-native speakers on the call or individuals who might find your accent challenging? If in doubt, slow down. Check with those on the call if you are speaking at a comfortable pace

Clarity: Articulate your words and phrases clearly. Don't rush over words or speak in a low voice that causes people to strain to hear you

Precision: Try to avoid abstract and vague words and phrases, e.g., 'as soon as possible'. Be specific

Simplicity: Use simple words and short sentences. Make sure everyone on the call will understand any jargon or acronyms you use. Stay away from using slang as it can cause great confusion

Intonation: Be expressive. Put verbal emphasis on important words or phrases. A monotone voice will also cause people to lose attention faster. Use your voice to highlight and engage. Smiling while speaking can also make the voice sound brighter

Courtesy: Keep interruptions to an absolute minimum. Let non-native speakers finish their thoughts, and don't try to finish their sentences. Ask permission before putting anyone on speaker phone

Length: Be concise. Keep your continuous talk time short; people lose attention and could miss important information. Break up what you have to say into small chunks

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