If you want to be a better communicator, take a moment to consider these five tips. Then, give them a try.
1. Be concise. Don't use 100 words to say something you can say in 50. It's easy to become enamored of your own voice, but this may cause you to drone on and lessen your effectiveness as a communicator.
2. Have a point. Don't speak for the sake of speaking. Have a point—especially when you're trying to be persuasive or explain something. It's one thing if you're having coffee or a beer with a friend, but in a business or teaching situation it's important to have a point before you start talking.
3. Don't have too many points. It's tough for most people to remember long lists. It's even tougher if the list is comprised of complex points. Many memory experts say to stick to a list of seven or fewer points if you want your audience to remember them.
Have a maximum of three key points you'd like your audience to remember. Better yet, have just one and hit it from a bunch of different angles. Obviously this is not one-size-fits-all, but in most instances you'll want to stick to a small number of key points or you will confuse your audience.
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4. Use words and metaphors that will resonate with your audience. If you're speaking to a board of directors, a group of CEOs, or a bunch of marketing vice presidents, the words you'll use will be different from those you'll use when speaking to a group of politicians or museum curators. This is true if you are speaking to individuals from these groups as well.
Each audience has its own buzzwords and hot buttons. It's key to use examples, phrasing and metaphors that resonate with your audience. If not, you will not pass the ethos, pathos, logos test, and you will be far less likely to effectively get your point across.
5. Listen more than you talk. Listening to and understanding your audience are critical aspects of being an effective communicator. Unfortunately, it's often tempting to formulate your next great thought while your audience is trying to communicate with you. Given the difficulty of multitasking effectively, the likelihood of you being able to formulate your thoughts and process those of your audience at the same time are very small.
If you don't empathize with your audience, they will sense it, and it will make them far less likely to listen to and understand your message. The law of reciprocity is alive and well in effective two-way communication.
Give these tips a try and see if they help you communicate more effectively.
Paul Morin is founder of CompanyFounder.com, where a version of this article originally appeared.
This story first ran on PR Daily in December 2012.