How to Have Strong Oral and Written Communication Skills in the Workplace

Strong speaking skills help you get your point across effectively.

Strong speaking skills help you get your point across effectively.

You might be really good at talking your friend into going shopping with you instead of to the gym, or schmoozing the cute guy next door to help you change your car's oil, but that doesn't necessarily translate into strong workplace communication skills. Watch established network news anchors to pick up pointers on how to concisely convey important information. Read famous authors or noted literary journals for examples of effective writing. Adapt these techniques to how you communicate at work to improve your skills and come across as more confident, polished and professional.

Listen to people in the workplace who you consider to be effective, persuasive speakers. Identify specific techniques they use that you might be able to adopt to improve your own speaking style. Watch speeches by famous orators such as Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. If movies are more your thing, watch famous movie speeches. Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko or Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" are powerful, direct speeches.

Rid your office vocabulary of slang, overused phrases and poor grammar. Just because some of this has slipped into daily use doesn't make it right. For example, the window didn't get "busted," it was "broken." And while using "big words" appropriately can make you sound educated and knowledgeable, using them incorrectly or unnecessarily just makes you sound foolish. Don't say "utilize" when you mean "use." And don't say "myself" when you should just say "me."

Strengthen your written communication by brushing up on English grammar. Make yourself a cheat sheet for words that frequently trip you up, so you have ready reminders and examples of how to use them correctly. These could include "it's" versus "its," or "who's" versus "whose." If this kind of thing makes your brain explode, treat yourself to the latest edition of an established news media style guide, so you have a ready reference to help you navigate the intricacies of written English.

Proofread all your written communications before hitting the "print" or "send" button. And don't just rely on spell check functions, since they don't tell you if you're using the words in proper context. "There," "their" and "they're" will all be considered correct by computer spelling checkers, but that doesn't help you know if you've used the right one in the right place in the sentence, "They're sure that their car is over there."

 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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