10 Ways to Further Develop Your Communication Skills

Q: Have you ever used any training to develop your soft skills, namely communication? If so, which?

A: Practice with toastmasters. “I’m a huge fan of Toastmasters. A number of our employees have completed the certificate program. Anyone who needs to eliminate their fear of public speaking, brush up on tone, increase projection and eliminate filler words like ‘um’ and ‘like’ will benefit from this stellar non-profit. Chapters are worldwide and free for anyone to join.” Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

Do an elevator pitch. “There’s no better training than the cold pitch. Find someone random outside the office who’s willing to bend their ear. Take two minutes and describe your business in an elevator pitch format, then ask for feedback. Not only does this keep your communication skills fresh; it can also help you, as an owner, keep your sales skills honed. That’s something many of us lose after spending too much time in the boardroom.” Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

Participate in media spokesperson training. “Early in my career, before I even spoke regularly with the press, I completed media spokesperson training. Even the best public speakers would benefit from the skills taught in one of these trainings. A day in front of a camera practicing crisis management and answering hard questions will improve anyone’s communication skills, whether it be with media, your staff or investors.” Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

Compete in a policy debate. “If you can participate in a policy debate, you can communicate anything and speak anywhere. If you want a crash course in communication, spend three weeks at a summer debate camp. You may be the oldest one there, but you’ll be grateful.” Joel Butterly, InGenius Prep

Take an Enneagram Test. “I have used the Enneagram Test to really get to know myself. Once I found out what my communication style consisted of and what makes me tick, I was able to develop a better set of skills crafted for my personality and behaviors. Not only did it help me communicate better with others, but I learned how others communicate too.” John Rampton, Calendar

Create a YouTube channel. “You’d be surprised by the effect that hosting a YouTube channel has on your communication skills. Not only does it force you to create scripts, presentations and impromptu dialogues, but it also puts you in front of an endless amount of viewers who can comment at their own will. Being in front of a camera helps you work on speaking naturally and fluently, while also getting a solid point across.” Miles Jennings, VocaWorks

Take a creative class. “This is kind of offbeat, but we recently did a two hour calligraphy class in our office. It was mainly to help get the creative juices flowing, but it really helped the design team because it allowed them to explore different edges. Although we don’t use calligraphy on our site, the class helped everyone on our team explore their creative side and learn a skill that is highly applicable to the events industry.” Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

Meet with a life coach. “I have occasionally met with a life coach to try and develop soft skills like communication, brainstorming, speaking and mindfulness. All these areas help improve empathy and sensitivity, and provide a way to better understand myself and others I manage or work with.” Cynthia Johnson, Bell + Ivy

Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” “There are a lot of books that cover the topic of communication and relationship building. The one all-time favorite book of mine is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It covers all the topics related to managing, communicating and connecting with others. It’s an easy read and a great starting point for understanding how to truly communicate with people.” Andy Karuza, FenSens

Try Gestalt Therapy. “I’m finishing an 18-month program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. Every two months, I spent four days immersed in their training. While it is a therapeutic model, as a CEO, the training has been incredibly valuable to me. It has helped me learn how to create safe spaces within my company and with clients so more profound work can be done. I’m working with them to put together a program for CEOs.” Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

(Article written by Young Entrepreneur Council)