3 Tips For Improving Communication Skills

The following is from a post I wrote for the Keynote Connection blog. The story describes the first time I received Keynote’s personalized coaching in public speaking skills. Since most of what I write to you is from a teacher’s perspective, I thought you might enjoy seeing things from the learner’s side instead.

“Hey, I’m half Italian and I naturally talk with my hands all the time, so this shouldn’t be a problem,” I thought. I was being coached on my public speaking skills (specifically on using gestures) in front of a room full of people. Although a bit nervous, I figured I’d do fairly well since I had over a decade of public speaking experience under my belt.

I launched into my impromptu talk and did what I thought were some big, bold gestures. My coach said they needed to be BIGGER. I thought she was crazy, but at her encouragement I made them BIGGER. Imagining how foolish I must have looked doing such laughably huge motions, I went to watch my videotape (yes, this was back in the olden days of VHS camcorders). To my surprise, my coach was right! At the beginning of the exercise, my elbows looked like they were glued to my sides and my largest hand movements looked…well…medium at best. And those “laughably huge” gestures my coach made me do? They looked great!

Based on my experience with Keynote’s communication training, here are three tips that I think are helpful for anyone who needs to communicate with an audience.

  • Get Objective Feedback. Even experienced public speakers (whether on stage, in a boardroom or a classroom) can benefit from personalized communication coaching. Though I had years of experience, it took an objective coach and video to show me how I could use gestures more effectively.
  • Everyone Has Room to Improve. Communication skills are needed in a variety of life situations: leading a small group Bible study, meeting new people, talking with sales clerks. Regardless of who your audience is or how long you’ve been at it, everyone has room to improve.
  • Communication Training Teaches Life Lessons. Tim Downs, author and communication trainer at Keynote’s Comm Lab, often says, “Public speaking is dying to self in front of a group of people.” In other words, it takes humility to put your audience first and do whatever it takes to help them understand your message. And I grew in humility as I accepted constructive input from others. I also developed more confidence as I learned to express my thoughts more clearly.

Short Takes

Take One: Keynote’s Comm Lab is an annual conference providing training and personalized coaching in public speaking skills. Comm Lab was first held in 2010 and attendance is increasing every year. 21 people attended in 2010, 54 were trained in 2011 and this year attendance grew to 70.

Take Two: Keynote Artists recently released a live performance video of an original worship song called “So Much More.” The footage is from Campus Crusade for Christ’s 2011 Staff Conference, and you can watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NF_XVCULQ8.

Prayer Request

My focus right now is on finding new financial partners for my ministry. Pray that God will provide all my financial needs by the end of May so that I can turn my full attention to the Keynote Summer Project, which starts in June. Thank you for praying!

Denise DiSarro

View posts by Denise DiSarro
I am a staff member with Cru, a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ. I work on a creative team in the Indianapolis area.

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