We’ve all been there. In a conversation with a group of people, we offer our opinion. Our idea is met with, at best, polite smiles and vacant stares. Then conversation resumes as if we’d never spoken! Is it any wonder we begin to feel inferior, unsure, and confused? It is a loss to everyone when valuable ideas are not expressed in a way that is meaningful to others.
Practice these techniques for expression, and experience a growing respect for you personally and your ideas:
1. Have a point that is relevant to the conversation.
Before you open your mouth, know what point you want to make. If you talk for no apparent reason, you will be quickly tuned out by your listeners.
2. Be brief.
Don’t use five minutes of words to express a one minute idea. If your listeners often finish your sentences for you, you probably need to work on this area.
3. Speak to your listeners’ level of understanding.
Use terminology they understand. Explain any necessary new, unusual words and concepts clearly. Compare new concepts with ones they may already be familiar with. Watch their face – if they look puzzled, stop and clarify.
4. Speak to your listeners’ interests and point of view.
When they feel you understand and respect their perspective, they are more willing to listen and respect yours.
5. Support what you say with evidence.
There is a reason you believe in what you are saying. You read it, heard it from an authority, learned a new statistic, or experienced it yourself. Share your evidence or story with the listener. This adds authority to your comments. What convinced you, will convince others.
6. Be yourself.
Don’t try to impress with big words, or gain attention by being extreme in your opinions. Do speak out sincerely, with strong conviction for your views. Expressing genuine enthusiasm for your ideas is contagious!
Using only a few of these techniques can pay big dividends in casual conversation as well as formal meetings. Social confidence is enhanced when you communicate with clarity and enthusiasm.
Right now, think of someone you can talk with, decide on a topic, and practice in your mind. Rehearse what you will say and how they may respond. Then go practice in real life. Each time you speak, you’ll take one more step toward selling yourself and your valuable ideas. You are unique in the world, and someone out there is waiting to connect with you!