How to Become a Great Communicator

by Uche Onegeria 11 Feb , 2016  

Answer: READ!!

I can sum this with that single word “READ” and publish this post.However, there are some oddities involved in this fact.
Communication has 2 forms: Verbal and non-verbal which consists of reading, listening, speaking and various body languages. I will not discuss body language here but it has been said that more than 55% of communication is non-verbal. Note that!Great Readers, Great Writer, Poor Speakers
You might read extensively but your speaking might not be great. By “speaking”, I mean having the Obama or Oprah Winfrey oratory prowess. Being able to know what to say and how to say it. You will have the right words and can connect them on paper to equally amaze a fellow reader but when you open your mouth to say the words:

“How powerful are your lungs?”
“How confident are you?”
“How convincing/assertive are you?”

 

There is a reason why Obama has a twenty-something year old who writes his speeches in the background. FYI, this speech writer might be a great speaker but because we have never heard him speak, he is delegated to his position as Obama’s speechwriter at least for now.

Personally, I started reading and writing (for fun) quite early in my life. However, someone forgot to tell me how important “speaking” equally is. My environment (Nigeria especially) did not encourage that. Thus my speaking skills might not check the “excellent” box (remember Oprah Winfrey-speaking level) but my writing and reading is excellent. I think :). Most great readers are great writers by the way.

Great Speakers, Poor Writers, Poor Readers
There are people who do not read a lot but are great when they speak. You notice that I have not called them great speakers but only said that “they are great when they speak”.
What makes a great speaker is also the content of your speech which is an assemblage of the vast knowledge garnered in the course of your life usually through reading and other sources. “Reading” enriches your life in more ways than you can ever imagine and thus lends to your credibility when you are imparting knowledge to an audience. Ever heard of empty barrel making the most noise? I assure you that even comedians read. Most poor readers are poor writers by the way.

Irrespective of the group you belong to, you need one important piece – Listening. If you cannot listen, you might as well not open your mouth to speak.

Great Speakers, Great Readers, Great Listeners (Great Communicators)

If you check all 3 boxes, then you can go toe-to-toe with the Obamas of the world, maybe have dinner with them and maybe get into a heated debate with Obama himself on maybe his policies. The factors engaged in action here are: your speaking skill, reading skill (based on your knowledge from your research on Obama, his policies etc.) and listening skill. There is never one without the other.

“Abraham Lincoln was known as an avid reader. In fact, many popular stories about his childhood describe his main source of education was the endless hours he spent reading anything and everything he could get his hands on. And it’s a trait he shares with many of history’s greatest leaders. Today, many statistics show that top CEOs read four to five books per month, which is four to five times the number of books the average person reads in a year.” 
Quote from Refresh Leadership

When to Start
It starts in your youth or for older people, as soon as possible. It is never too late. I started reading and writing essays when I was 7 (or even younger) in both my native and English language.

With extensive reading history or background, you accumulate a huge library of words and information in your mind without breaking a sweat. Imagine seeing the same word or idea, repeated over and over again in various texts, and in various contexts. With time, even without looking up the meaning of the word in the dictionary, you will automatically know what it means based on the various contexts that you have seen it in, in your books. You become a human thesaurus.

All these skills can be learned as well. “Fake it till you make it” actually means “Practice builds perfection”.

In a nutshell, unless you are a natural, you might not be able to dazzle an audience if you do not cultivate these skills. There are some natural speakers and listeners but I am yet to see a natural reader or/and writer. Read!

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