Effective communication is the most important skill you will ever learn. Though experience and perseverance can make goals a reality, communication skills give you that extra push to achieve your goals. For example, the primary purpose of an interview is to identify if a candidate is capable of completing a certain task. Often it is never a question if they could complete the job, but whether they could be successful in the task and work well with other employees. Because most of our lives are surrounded by people, it makes sense that interpersonal connections would be of importance. Communication is one way in which you can maintain relationships with people throughout your life; whether they are your fellow employees, your boss, or even your family members.

With communication skills also comes a need to appear confident. In this two-part blog, we will discuss 12 tips in which you will become visually more confident, in addition to a stronger communicator.

Eye Contact

Eye contact can be a double-edged sword in the world of communication. If you give too little eye contact with the person you are addressing, they are likely to lose interest and disengage. However, if you give the person you’re talking to a little too much eye contact they can interpret your message as threatening, romantic, or obsessive — all of which are the opposite of what you are intending to communicate. The key to successful eye contact when speaking is to look the person you are talking to in the eye. You will want to look them straight in the eye when you reach to shake their hand, as well as whenever they are talking. If you are communicating with multiple people at one time, it is also acceptable to move from one pair of eyes to the other, giving each person about five seconds of eye contact.

Again, don’t feel pressured to master all these steps perfectly all at once. The last thing you want to do is actively think about all these steps while you are talking to someone. If you do, it is likely the other person will be worried about you, as your actions will be over-thought and robotic in manner.

Mastering a Proper Handshake

It may seem like the easiest thing to do, but it is actually extremely difficult to master a perfect handshake. As it is a two-person exchange, it helps if the other person knows how to shake hands as well. Odds are, if you’re going to shake the hands of a business owner, they are likely to know how to shake hands.

The concept seems simple; reach for each other’s hands and then shake them up and down in a vertical motion. However, the factors of speed, grip, and length are all crucial for the completion of a perfect handshake.

Speed: Sometimes the speed can be an example of how earnest you are to engage in a conversation. The faster you shake a hand, it provides a clear signal to the opposite person. Shake the hand gently but with small traces of vigor. An energetic handshake will demonstrate your excitement, as well as your youth.

Remember, it is ok to shake their hand a little fast, but don’t shake their hand uncontrollably. Their hand is not an etch-a-sketch! If anything, if you shake too hard, they will wonder why you are acting manically.

Grip: If you give weak handshakes, you will be perceived as weak. Unfortunately, a handshake is an employer’s first impression of you, so it is important to shake their hands with intention. Obviously, the key is not to squeeze the life out of their hand. It is wise to give their hand a small squeeze when you initially make contact with their hand. This will signal your interest in meeting them, as well as begin the initial engagement of a conversation.

Smile, But Not Too Much

Smiling is important when communicating with someone. As humans, we respond friendlier when faced with openly positive people. When you smile, you release tension within the conversation and provide communication in a more friendly environment. It is important to smile when the other person is talking, as it will signal to the other person you are listening and are understanding what they are saying to you.

Try not to smile the entire conversation. If you over smile, you might come across as goofy or uncomprehending. Smile at humorous or light-hearted parts of the conversation, but be sure to be mindful of when you should properly smile. For example, do not smile during sensitive subjects or negative moments in the conversation. The key to a smile is to be perceived as friendly, not psycho.

Don’t Shift

During your life, you have probably had to stand in front of a crowd. Speaking in front of people can be nerve-racking and can cause great amounts of anxiety. Because of the overwhelming sense of fear, some people begin to fidget or move while they are speaking. Shifting or rocking is the most common nervous tick that people have. The movement can be extremely distracting and nauseating to audience members. When you speak make sure to plant your feet firmly on the ground to keep yourself from moving.

Talk Slowly

When communicating with others, it is important to maintain a level tone. In terms of communication, slower is always better. No matter what, when we have a conversation we subconsciously increase the speed in which we talk. Even if you think you are talking very slow, audience members will not notice the difference. Besides you aren’t an auctioneer, it is important that people understand what you are saying when it comes to communication.

Speak Up

When you are trying to communicate make sure you speak loud enough so people can hear you. It may not seem like a difficult concept, but when you are anxious your voice can be noticeably softer than usual. This can obviously provide issues if you are speaking to a large group that doesn’t have supersonic hearing. If you talk softly the impression you give off is that you are quiet and shy. Speaking loudly is far better than talking too softly.

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