The moment your boss tells you to present the next quarter’s marketing plan, you are jittery, nervous, and plain anxious. You have seriously no clue how you are going to present the plan in front of your top management – especially when you know that your promotion and recognition depends on it. So what is that one definitive way via which you can start getting better at your communication skills right from the get-go, even before you are given such momentous opportunity to present and speak in front of an audience?
Simple: start reading a book ‘aloud’ for at least 45 minutes daily.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, How Reading Is a Reflection of Your Career Success, that it is extremely important to be keep learning to stay afloat, but most of us just happen to glance through a piece of content on the Web and think this will steer us through important meetings and presentations.
Right? Not quite.
You have to be a dense reader – and reader who reads aloud, from cover to cover. That’s right: when you start reading a book aloud, you develop more confidence on the correct usage of words, pronunciation, emotional articulation, and overall delivery. You will discover your pace, and increase your power of discerning when the sentences are too long or short, or in case of any grammar or punctuation errors, which your brain skipped when not reading aloud. Over a period of consistently reading aloud, you will understand yourself and develop a personality you want to become.
Back in my college, we were given topics to present in front of the whole batch; one of the topic was to give a presentation on a book – Naomi Klein’s No Logo. I was really fidgety at first as the book was really dense and words were completely alien to me: a tough read. But I kept practicing and practicing aloud in front of the mirror, or just sitting at my desk, and I read every word, made notes, created sections and started putting them into slides. Well, initially it was daunting, but when as the presentation day approached, I nailed it!
Lesson: You have to work harder and outwork everyone else when you want to sound a world-class communicator. And in time you will realize that you really don’t have to push yourself that hard when you start communicating like a true professional – it will become so ingrained in you like a part of your DNA.
To some it maybe a little bit too much since many of us not paperback readers, well, to that I recommend you start small and then go intense. You can start reading your favorite blogs aloud, and once you get the rhythm of your speaking, go for the real-deal books that can nudge you to more versatile side of your communication.
And more thing: if you want to see the improvement in your speaking skills, record your voice, from the first time your started reading aloud to the next time –and you will yourself discover flaws that can be worked upon in subsequent practice sessions. Practice, practice, and practice.
Today, it’s not just important to be a content consumer and internalize; you have to manifest your content consumption into words that spark more connections, more business – and most importantly, impact your audience in ways that they just can’t afford to forget you.
Think of Ted Talks, whoever presents on this platform works so hard, prunes unnecessary words and intonations to make their oratory so powerful and engaging. This skill is the number 1 criteria to land your dream job, or nail that client pitch, or present a book you just authored. And no, it’s not just for salespeople to master this skill; it is equally important for book keepers! Why? Because even they present the financial reputation of the company top their stakeholders – so, yes, start working on your oratical skills (irrespective of your role in your company).
Do you read aloud? If yes, do share your experience. And if no, start now!
And see the difference.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net