Verbal communication involves using speech to exchange information with others. You usually communicate verbally in face-to-face conversations. Meetings, interviews, conferences, speeches, and phone calls are other forms of verbal communication. In business, you communicate verbally to exchange ideas, understand diverse points of view, and solve problems. Because verbal skills are among those most valued by employers, developing these skills will help you find jobs, advance your career, and improve your professional performance. In verbal communication, or oral communication, one person sends a message to another person or group using speech. Communication is successful only when the speaker and listener understand each other. Because the average person is exposed to thousands of messages every day, your message must rise above competing information to gain your listener’s attention. After receiving the message, your listener must be able to interpret, or decode, its meaning.
• Start with what your listener needs to know Your listener is most likely to remember the first and last parts of your message. Before you speak with someone, identify the purpose of your discussion, and shape that to be your main idea. Make sure your message is best delivered using spoken rather than written words.
• Limit the amount of information People have a limited capacity to listen to and decipher a message, especially if they are distracted by noisy surroundings, interruptions, or other communication obstacles. Packing too much information into a conversation can leave your listeners confused or remembering only part of what you said. Limit the amount of information you convey in a single interaction.
• Eliminate unnecessary words It can take more concentration to understand spoken words than written ones. When you use complicated language or unnecessary words, you make it more difficult for your listener to interpret what you are saying. Use simple sentences, and avoid technical language and jargon whenever possible.
• Make your messages relevant to your listener Although it is natural to discuss subjects you consider important, if your listener has different interests or priorities, your message might not be well received. Frame your ideas so they are relevant to the other person. Adopt the point of view of your listeners, and then explain or show how your subject is important to them and how they can benefit.
• Take a direct approach Your listeners have to manage several tasks as they listen to you. They must pay attention to what you are saying, interpret your nonverbal signals, ignore noise and other distractions, and make sense of the incoming information. Listeners can understand your messages if they are clear and consistent with your body language.
• Pause occasionally Your listeners need time to process incoming information. As you communicate, include brief pauses so your audience can absorb your message, especially when you’ve made an important point, requested action, or are preparing to introduce a new subject. Use these short breaks to review their body language and gauge their understanding. However, avoid long pauses, which can make your listener feel uncomfortable.