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In any aspect of your life, communication is one of the most important skills you can have. Communication allows you to effectively talk to other people about what you want and what needs to be done. If you can communicate well, you’ll be more likely to find an effective solution to a problem and work well with other people on projects. With quality communication, you have less conflicts and misunderstandings between people. While communication is vitally important to business success, far too many people have sub-par communication skills. It’s time to change that fact and develop better skills.

Sincerely and actively listen

If you want to be a great communicator, the first step is not actually saying anything at all. You need to learn to listen to other people when they talk. When someone is talking to you, actually listen to what they’re saying. Set aside any distractions and pay attention. Nod, ask questions, and make yourself focus on the conversation. People will be more willing to work with you and you’ll be able to work more effectively with people when you develop your listening skills.

Monitor your body language

We naturally move and gesture when speaking and oftentimes these cues from body language convey important information to the person we’re talking to. However, there are some times when your body language may give a different impression than what you want to get across or it makes you appear anxious. Try to stay conscious of how you’re moving and what certain gestures mean.

Plan out talking points

If you’re going to present an idea or speak to a group of people, it’s a smart move to plan out your talking points ahead of time. Type or write out what you’d like to say and consider making notecards with a few bullet points on them. If your talk is an important one or you’re nervous about it, rehearse what you’ll say a day or two before; practice helps you deliver your message more effectively.

Attempt to be brief

People find it all too easy to tune out someone who drones on about their topic and can’t seem to arrive at their point. No matter what subject you’re talking about, you should attempt to keep your sentences and explanations short. Think about what you want the other person to take away from what you’re saying then focus everything on that point and how to get it across to your listener as simply as possible.