Contrary to popular belief, becoming an effective communicator is a skill set that is learned, not something embedded in a person’s DNA. While there are certain personalities that have easily obtained the qualities of astounding communication, there is no communication skill that cannot be learned through hard work and dedication.

With that in mind, let us review a few fundamental skills that will help improve one’s ability to effectively communicate and influence others as a leader.

Think outside of the box

To become an effective communicator, think creatively and do not immediately dismiss an idea because it seems outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, the most inspiring ideas evolve upon reflection and adaptation. Therefore, smart leaders know they need to stretch their creative bounds to inspire and influence others.

Practice makes perfect

Organizing thoughts and ideas into a polished outline will not only keep them in order, but also allow for a more natural message conveyed in real-time — a trait that is especially imperative in large meetings and other professional gatherings.

Once one has completed this step, it is imperative they practice all they have put into place. Read each point of conversation aloud, as this will allow for the discovery of content that needs to be adjusted or re-worded. Rather than reading from a slideshow or stiffly reiterating lines on a sheet, the message will be confidently and naturally delivered to the audience.

Be an active listener

A speaker best communicates when they are actively listening, which ultimately allows for a more organic response and expands their understanding of the dialogue at the same time. Keep in mind that real communication involves an exchange between all parties involved, not just by one individual.

Engage in organic dialogue

Leaders that engage in organic and interactive dialogue will establish a trust and rapport that cannot be formed from an audience that is being talked at. When a speaker reads from a slide with little to no emotion, the experience is dull and most will not take anything away from the message. Engaging and connecting with the audience will convince them to show empathy and pay attention to the message.

Avoid using certain words

Using strong, effective words will contribute to better communication as a leader. There are words that should not be used often and some that should be avoided entirely. There are situations that are more cavalier, but profanity should be avoided.  

Other slang words like “dude” and “guys” are informal and can come off as being immature. Words like “actually,” “but,” “assume,” and “fine” lead to a negative connotation immediately. Therefore, it is imperative you adapt your language accordingly, as co-workers and peers do not want to hear excuses or sugarcoating.

Finally, always be constructive, respectful, and positive when communicating with individuals inside and outside of the workplace. You may be surprised how small, seemingly meaningless changes will garner results.