Almost everyone agrees that the first few moments of a meeting with a stranger are the toughest to get by. We don't know the other person. We don't know anything about his/her attitude, cultural background and interests.
Not to mention the butterflies in the stomach. Many of us barely survive these awkward moments.
However, to become a successful communicator, mastering these first moments is the first challenge to beat.
Well, practice makes perfect. Here are 10 ways to communicate more effectively. The first few ice-breaking sessions may be a bit clumsy. But with experience, it becomes fairly easy to start conversations with complete strangers. It becomes a natural trait. After a good amount of practice, it becomes so normal that it won't feel like you are trying to break the ice. You just do it.
10 Ways to increase your communication skills
1. Surround yourself with people you do not already know. While this may be difficult for those that are shy, putting this weakness behind will enable you to make new contacts in a short period of time, and potentially give you a business lead.
2. If you are in a group, individually introduce yourself to everyone in the group, shaking each person's hand and giving them the attention you would want to receive.
3. Always introduce yourself by stating your first and last name slowly and clearly. If this is a business networking opportunity include your business title when you introduce yourself. Make sure that the person you are speaking to heard your name, and if necessary, nonchalantly repeat your full name.
4. Shake their hand firmly while making eye contact. A firm handshake is never forgotten, and making eye contact shows you are serious.
5. Repeat the person's name that you just met. For example: "It's a pleasure to meet you, Robert." This will make the recipient feel special, and immediately remember who acknowledged them. Repeating their name will also help you memorize it.
6. Learn about the other person to create a trusted relationship, by letting them speak. Find out what they do and where they are from. Ask them about their past, and what brought them to the career path or business they are in today. Listen carefully, show them you care, and do not interrupt them!
7. Don't talk too much about yourself and your business. You can briefly mention what you do, but unless you are asked more by the other party, don't begin rambling about your great new business or endeavor. It may be exciting, but no one likes shameless promotion!
8. Always carry business cards. You never know who you will run into and when, whether you are eating cheese and crackers, in the middle of a conversation, or in the restroom.
9. Read at least one news article a day. If there is a moment of silence, you can break the awkward pause by bringing up an interesting story you read. This can be about an interesting local story, a TV show, a book, a movie, and more. Note: Steer clear of political news. This is not a good conversation piece, as this can lead to a loud and unpleasant outcome.
10. When introducing a friend or a colleague, be sure to mention their first and last name, along with a piece of information that the recipient may find interesting, such as where they work, or something they have accomplished that is out of the ordinary. This will make everyone feel comfortable and lead into a good conversation topic.
A Final Word
You can only leave a first impression once, so it's crucial to present yourself in the best way possible so you are never forgotten. Rapport is almost priceless. Agreements, contracts, big business deals are often concluded between people because they sense a bonding.
Now that you have the techniques, follow these simple rules and there is no looking back to you becoming a an effective communicator:
- Prepare yourself for the challenge
- Kick yourself out of the comfort zone and volunteer for ice-breaking
- You may fail initially but remember that every failure is a stepping stone to success
- Do it every single time there is an opportunity. After a while, it becomes a natural trait.
Develop and practice these effective communication skills and your life and business will take on new vitality!