Verbal Communication Skills for Success


In a highly interactive industry such as recruitment, good communication skills are crucial to your ability to succeed.  Here are some tips from an expert on how to communicate verbally at your best.

Human communication specialist Valerie Panayiotou, from Organisational Effectiveness Consulting, writes: Verbal communication makes up the other 35 per cent of any communicative interaction (with 65% being non verbal).  Verbal communication:
  • is more than just the words (semantics);
  • includes the method of delivery (articulation, fluency, voice, pitch, paralinguistic);
  • includes pragmatics (turn taking, topic maintenance, topic initiation, appropriate responding);
  • includes grammar and syntax.
When we communicate with others, we generally don’t pay attention to all of these parameters; we tend to mainly concentrate on our words because we’re focused on getting our meaning across. Unless we are asked to repeat what we said or to slow down, we often don’t realise that our message has not come out as effectively or as positively as we might have intended. So, how do we reduce the occurrence of poor and ineffective communication, especially when we are in a situation where we are trying to convey a positive and competent image?
  1. To the extent that you can, remove or minimise any communication barriers in the room during times of verbal interaction (e.g. turn off noisy projectors once your presentation is done; remove distractors such as computer screens and mobile phones; move items aside if they obstruct your vision of a person’s face; and move your seat if you are blinded by the sun).
  1. Listen attentively and respond carefully.
  1. Try to control the amount of talking you do – don’t dominate the conversation, wait for your turn and allow others to have a turn.
  1. The more relaxed you are, the better your voice will sound, as a strong relationship exists between voice and emotion. Here are some tricks:
  • make sure that before an important verbal communication you take time to relax and collect your thoughts;
  • take a few slow deep diaphragmatic breaths (as you breathe in expand your stomach area trying not to lift your shoulders);
  • clench your jaw and neck muscles tightly and then relax, as this is a good way of relaxing your facial and laryngeal muscles;
  • if you can get to a bathroom or private area, try humming your favourite tune (a great way of relaxing your vocal muscles);
  • in a private location, make a chewing action in an exaggerated manner (like a cow) as this will relax your voice and articulators (but do this without the gum!).
  1. Remember that your language and speech forms an immediate and lasting impression. You should:
  • pronounce words clearly but deliberately, articulating all the sounds within the words (don’t leave off sounds in the middle or at the end of words or abbreviate them, as in “gonna”, “dunno”, “scuse me”;
  • not talk too fast – keep your rate of speech at a slow but good pace;
  • try to use complete sentences and avoid colloquialisms, slang or offensive language;
  • use specific vocabulary rather than phrases such as “you know”, “like”, “thingo”, etc.;
  • use appropriate loudness levels and inflection to convey your enthusiasm and level of interest;
  • try not to raise your pitch level at the end of every statement (unless it is a true question) as this comes across as insecurity and a lack of confidence;
  • try to use positive language and vocabulary such as “and”, “in addition”, “it was a good learning experience”, “it helped me…” (e.g. avoid overuse of “no”, “but”, “you’re wrong”, “it was a bad…”, “I didn’t gain anything”);
  • include enough information in your responses – if your information is lacking in detail it will be misunderstood:
    • give enough background;
    • provide specific information;
    • be as informative as required – not repetitive, redundant or superfluous;
    • know when to stop.