The rise and evolution of technology have made email and smartphones more convenient to communicate. However, nothing can replace verbal communication both in our social lives and in the workplace. Verbal communication gives you and the people around you a chance to build rapport and connect.
Although sometimes you may face challenges when communicating, tactful verbal communication skills can help you resolve any issues and get over disputes when they arise.
Read on to learn more about the importance of verbal communication, what it involves, and some communication tips to help you communicate.
What is Verbal Communication?
Verbal communication is a person’s use of words to relay information with others. That means it can include written and spoken communication. Most people assume that the term verbal only includes spoken interaction, which is not the case.
This type of communication involves the words you choose to speak, how the other person hears them, and how they interpret them.
Communication is a two-way process, which means that both the person speaking and the one receiving are equally essential. With verbal communication, the speaker must pass the message, and the listener needs to make sense of what is said.
It’s challenging to isolate verbal communication from non-verbal communication, as you’ll need to use facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language to send the message. You’ll also need to be polite, remain focused, and have clarity of speech to make communication seamless.
Purpose of Verbal Communication
While verbal communication has many goals, its primary function is to pass across a message to a recipient. It depends on the language and emotion to produce the desired effect.
You can use verbal communication to inquire, inform, discuss, or argue about any topic. This communication is essential in learning and teaching. Moreover, it helps to build relationships and form a bond with other people.
Types of Verbal Communication
Verbal communication can be classified into four classes, mainly:
- Interpersonal communication
- Intrapersonal communication
- Small group communication
- Pubic communication
Interpersonal communication occurs between two people and is considered a one-on-one conversation. For both the receiver and the sender to communicate clearly, they need to swap their roles.
Intrapersonal communication is restricted and private. That includes the silent conversations we have with ourselves, where we act as both the receiver and the sender while processing our actions and thoughts.
That type of communication is where more than two people are involved. The number is small to allow everyone to interact and converse. Examples of small group communication include board meetings, team meetings, and press conferences.
With this type of communication, there’s a need to have an agenda or a specific issue that needs to be discussed. Failure to that can make communication a challenge, often leading to miscommunication.
Public communication is where one person addresses a large group of people. Examples could be public speeches or election campaigns. With this communication, there are multiple receivers and a single information sender.
Why is Verbal Communication Important?
Verbal communication has several benefits in our daily lives. That includes:
Verbal Communication Saves Time
Can you imagine a situation where someone is not clear with his communication and needs to pass across some critical information? That would lead to a loss of effort, time, and energy. Verbal communication is vital as it ensures communication if clear, authentic, and concise for everyone.
Verbal Communication Increases Motivation
As human beings, we like being appreciated from time to time. You can only pass these words of motivation and encouragement through verbal communication. It’s the only way to make someone feel understood and valued.
Verbal Communication Provides Clarity of Information
It would be challenging to pass on critical information through non-verbal communication. Some people may not comprehend what’s being said without you doing so verbally. Verbal communication allows you to interact directly with the receiver, ask questions, get answers, and understand what’s required of you immediately.
Verbal Communication Allows Us to Think
It would be difficult to function as human beings without verbal communication. Our ability to reason and communication is what sets us apart from other people. We can use language to reflect on the past, view the present, and think about the future.
That allows us to recall our first memories formed at a time when we started using verbal communication. The language shapes our thoughts, the reason why you depend on language to count dots, or distinguish between the different colors. It’s also why most people may find it challenging to do a task that involves thinking and speaking at the same time.
Verbal Communication Makes it Easier to Organize Ideas
We all have five primary senses. However, it’s difficult to understand everything we come across. You’ll rely on verbal communication to distinguish various things and to arrange some things into categories to comprehend how things work.
For example, when dealing with daily tasks, you can categorize them into most urgent, least urgent, and to be done at a later time. That type of organization creates meaning in our world.
Verbal Communication Defines Reality
It’s through verbal communication that we can define our experiences, thoughts, emotions, ideas, and people. For example, you can describe yourself in terms of your career, relationships with others, or your past experiences. You can be a lawyer, son/daughter, student, etc.
These descriptions are both evaluative and descriptive. You could be at a sunny place enjoying the day and all of a sudden the rain starts and ends up ruining your day. That could be described as a disappointing experience. In the same way, someone could define the day as beautiful as you got to spend time together.
That shows we have choices about what to focus on and how to describe our experiences and their impact.
Verbal Communications Shapes Our Attitudes
Your language shapes your attitude about the world. A hypothesis developed by Benjamin Lee and Edward Sapir explains that language develops our thoughts. It goes on to claim that people who speak a different language, think differently.
That means that when you describe events, you use the symbols of the language you speak, which represents your reality.
Verbal Communication helps Us Expand Our Horizons
You’re not confined to one place or career when you follow the rules of verbal communication. For example, you can interact with people from various social classes or get into a different job, depending on how competent you are. It’s your interpersonal skills that will make you attain success and go places you’ve never imagined,
Verbal Communication Helps to Persuade
You have the power to influence or persuade when you have excellent verbal communication skills. What’s more, these skills are vital when you need to market yourself or promote products/services.
When you can express yourself clearly, that shows you’re confident. It’s this quality that will help you succeed in your relationships and the workplace.
Helps to Break Cultural Differences
Interacting with people from different cultures becomes imperative, especially if you’re working with multinational companies. These companies have diverse cultures and religions, which could bring problems when relaying information. Developing verbal communication skills can help promote effective communication and productivity.
Helps to Increase Popularity
Having excellent and practical communication skills is not only vital for your professional life, but it also comes in handy in your social life. You can easily make friends when you can express yourself clearly. However, you need to be careful to avoid miscommunication.
Verbal communication can help correct wrongs done, where actions don’t count. Powerful words are useful as you can use them to persuade and create a chance to debate. Moreover, words help to stimulate creativity and thought, something that helps to reconcile and create new beginnings. It’s also a cheaper way to communicate, something that could save you lots of money.
Verbal Communication Tips
How well you communicate strongly influences your life. If you communicate clearly, more people will want to listen to you and associate with you. You’ll notice that the most influential people are excellent communicators. They do it in both spoken and written forms. Their ability to express their ideas effectively makes them relatable.
Below are some tips to improve your verbal communication.
Write it Out
Often we assume that we said something when we only thought about it. You may have already mentioned it in a long conversation, which means its meaning was lost in the process. If you’re speaking in a meeting, you need to write out the purpose of the meeting, what topic is being discussed, who is talking about it, and what outcome you expect. That keeps you on track and avoids any distractions in the process.
Use Fewer Words
Less is more when it comes to communication. It’s vital to think about the number of words you’re using when speaking. Too many words could leave one confused, and you may end up miscommunicating the intended message. Also, anything that’s not retained becomes a waste.
Reading is one of the most effective ways to improve your verbal communication skills. You can start by reading for thirty minutes and do it loudly. Don’t read any content, but focus on expertly written books. These books will give you more vocabulary that you can use when communicating with your peers and friends. What’s more, reading introduces you to different ideas, which makes communication more interesting.
Know Your Context
Each word you use operates within a context. The context could change the meaning of those words. For example, if you use the word power to a political figure, it could mean being in control or charge. However, if you mentioned the same concept to a group of electricians, it could be interpreted differently. You need to recognize the context and be sensitive to your audience when using your words.
Remember the 3 Cs of Communication
Communication is all about consensus, coherence, and conciseness. You need to keep your message short, that’s where brevity comes in. You also need to be coherent, which means aiming for an organized order of words.
In regards to consensus, you need to use speech that is polite and respectful. Use words that won’t bring friction or conflict with other people.
Learn to Listen to Others
Communication is a two-way thing, which means there are times you’ll need to speak, and times you’ll need to listen to others. Attentive and active listening is a fantastic way to gain new ideas, something that can enhance your verbal communication skills.
During the conversation, learn to visualize what’s being said and ask questions if you need more details. Use this to your advantage. Remember to keep an open mind and avoid rushing to make conclusions about the other person. Be objective and concentrate on the main direction of the speaker’s message.
Avoid letting prejudices get in the way as this could distract you. If you need to ask questions to gain understanding or seek clarification, wait until the speaker pauses and gives time for people to ask questions.
Be Honest and Open
While lying may seem to get you on top, it’s not always the best approach. It’s best to remain honest and be real when passing across a message. Moreover, honesty allows you to connect with people more and find a way of quickly communicating your opinion, thoughts, and ideas.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
When you are interacting with others, check their body language, and yours. Find out where their hands, eyes, and posture lead. You’ll realize that most of what is said is not by spoken words, but through body language.
Your body language shows the person you’re communicating with how you feel both on the inside and outside. Match your body language with your words so that the recipient sees and understands you.
Avoid the Perfect Grammar Trap
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need the perfect grammar to succeed. The best part of speaking is that you have more flexibility. You need to make sense and not just say some jargon that will leave everyone confused.
Communicate what you want to say clearly using the right intonation and pace. Don’t mind your grammar; instead, practice speaking all the time.
Be Audible and Clear
Being audible and clear is an essential aspect of communication. You need to be heard and state your exact purpose. Remember that the primary goal of communication is to pass your ideas across. If people are struggling to listen to what you’re saying or understand what you mean, then those signs should tell you that you aren’t an excellent communicator. Work on it, and gradually, you’ll be useful.
When talking, avoid interjections like laughing or using some short forms to hide your anxiety. You can pause in between thoughts or ideas and slow down your speaking to get understood. Don’t pay attention to your accent.
Vary Your Vocal Tone
You can bore your audience when you focus on a monotone voice. No one wants to listen to someone’s monotonous speech, that’s why you should use voice inflection when you need to add emphasis. You can express emotion by varying the pitch of your voice. The change of vocal tone will keep your audience engaged and will help pass the message.
Allow your voice and body language to reflect the significance of what you are saying. Use hand gestures, open your eyes wide, and learn forward to emphasize vital points.
Don’t Forget To Practice A Lot
As they say, practice makes perfect. If you’re having problems sharing your ideas or being heard, take time to listen, adapt, and repeat. It’s all about having the right balance that makes sense for your audience and gets you heard. You can start by talking to a person at home. Let them give you feedback, and use it to improve on your challenging areas.
Engage Your Audience
Nobody wants to feel like they are in a lecture when in a meeting or a social interaction session. Remember that audiences have a limited attention span regardless of how compelling you may sound.
You can become an excellent verbal communicator by engaging the audience in discussion. That’s something that makes the sessions interactive and fun. A perfect way to do this is by coming up with a brainstorming session to call out people’s thoughts. Alternatively, you can ask hypothetical questions to keep the audience stimulated.
Use the Purpose, Importance, and Preview Approach
The PIP approach is an effective way to improve your verbal communication skills. It’s particularly helpful when making presentations. When starting, you need to state the purpose of the presentation. The second step is to say why the presentation is important by looking at possible outcomes and later giving a preview of the topics; you intend to discuss.
Using this approach gets the audience excited about what you’re about to say, which helps them focus on key takeaways.
Also, you can record presentations for posterity. Platforms like Zoom allow you to record yourself delivering a presentation, something that gives you time to figure out what you could include In the next presentation to make it more helpful and engaging.
Practice Humility But Speak With Confidence
Humility involves having a modest view of your importance. It’s a trait that gets you respected and held in high regard. Nonetheless, speaking with humility doesn’t mean you should lose your confidence.
It’s still essential to understand and appreciate your abilities; that’s where confidence comes in. When you speak with confidence, you’re careful with the words you chose, how you portray your body language, and the tone of your voice. You also seek to make regular eye contact without staring.
While this may seem counterproductive, it’s often helpful as most people may not understand or act on things if you only say it once. However, be tactful when you’re repeating yourself. Avoid using the same words, but find a different way to convey a similar message.
For example, if you’re doing a presentation, you can go back to an image or a slide, and use your own words to explain what’s already written.
Reinforcement involves the use of words and non-verbal cues like eye contact, facial expressions, and head nods. The inclusion of these gestures encourages openness in others and helps to build rapport.
Moreover, reinforcement gives reassurance and always fears. It also shows that you are interested in what others have to say. As a tool, reinforcement can help reduce nervousness and pave the way for the development of a relationship.
Adapt Your Message and Make it Personal
Another effective way of improving your verbal communication is to tailor your message to the audience you’re speaking with. Find something they can easily relate to without being confused. Seek to know what niche interests them; this will make it simple for you to share your ideas.
Also, you need to make the message personal. If you look at most speakers, they find a way to relate their speech to their journeys, That makes them relatable, and people can quickly connect.
Always ask when you have concerns or don’t understand. Asking shows that you’re attentive to the other person, and this could help avoid wasting money, time, and effort. Questioning allows you to seek support from other people.
In verbal communication, you can use open and closed questions. Open questions require further elaboration and discussion. These questions broaden the scope for a response and start with words like what, who, and how. Open questions further prolong the conversation, allowing the other person to express themselves and get involved in the conversation.
Closed questions require a one or two-word answer, which means they limit the scope of the response. These questions keep the person asking them in control. Although these are not the best questions to ask when you’re trying to encourage verbal communication, they are useful when you need to get concise responses and focus on the discussion.
Don’t Fake It
You’ll realize that fake interactions are never productive as the topic will fizz eventually. People want to see your authentic self and not a version of you. Avoid copying another person’s style of communication. However, you can adopt someone’s way of communicating to prove your point. Have evidence to back up your main points.
Pay Attention to How You End Communication
The way you end a conversation will determine how memorable you’ll be. You can opt to close communication with verbal and non-verbal cues. Examples of verbal signals would be well, it was nice talking to you, etc.
Non-verbal signals could include standing up, closing a book, or avoiding eye contact. These actions tell the other person that you wish to end the conversation. Note that closing communicating may not give the speaker time to wind up. However, it’s the closure that allows you to organize for any future arrangements. What’s more, you’ll have time to make parting gestures.
Mistakes to Avoid in Verbal Communication
Some errors you need to avoid to be an effective verbal communicator include:
Using Technical Language
Using acronyms and jargon that’s only relevant to your profession, you could end up boring the audience who won’t understand your message. Keep your words simple and easy to understand, even for the ordinary person.
Overwhelming People With Words
It’s normal to spew put words if you are short of time or anxious. Most people are afraid that pausing will get the audience disinterested. However, this approach could overwhelm the listener. That means the listener won’t have time to understand or reflect on what’s being said.
In this case, communication becomes a one-way flow, making it irrelevant to the listeners. Avoid doing this and try to take some breaks in between to make the process more engaging. Relax and focus on quality over quantity.
Ignoring Communication Markers
Communication markers are non-verbal cues that you give to the recipient. The main ones are the tone of voice and body language. Watching out for these markers will tell you if your audience is interested in what you have to say. Ignoring these cues could be detrimental as you won’t be able to pass the message across effectively.
Don’t be self-focused, always be concerned for the other person to keep the conversation going. Also, focus on audio cues as well as physical ones.
Assuming That It’s the Listener’s Responsibility to Understand
Some people think that if something wasn’t clear, it’s the audience’s responsibility to ask. However, this approach has flaws as some people are shy of asking out of fear, while others may not be sure if what they understood is the correct version.
Focus on ensuring that everyone understands your message. Your audience should understand and act. Ensure that you encourage your listeners to participate in the conversation to clarify any misunderstood points.
Becoming excellent in your verbal communication is something that takes practice. Verbal communication is not only an essential element, but it’s also a vital part of the overall message you’re trying to convey. Spending time to improve your verbal communication is worth every minute.
Remember that empathy, clarity, conciseness, confidence, and open-mindedness are all vital in verbal communication.