Professional Communication ZAA 105


Set the Scene – Reflection:

Take a minute to think about the importance of effective interpersonal communication.

What does it mean to you?

How would you define it?

How do you know when someone has good interpersonal communication skills?

Name five (5) specific things that they do.

In business, you are required to communicate with a diverse range of people – many you may find it easy to relate to, others not. Most organisations require staff to have the ability to develop and maintain productive and positive client and colleague professional relationships. For many reasons, effective interpersonal communication skills are extremely important.

List five (5) situations that you can recall from your professional or personal life when effective communication has been very important and why:

On the importance of people skills, take this short quiz, assess your response and read the information that follows after the quiz. Take notes on any information that resonates with you. It is important to take notes as you move through this course of ideas that you find interesting or points that you want to remind yourself of later – they don’t need to be detailed, rather something that will help you retain the information or jog your memory.

It’s been said that some people would prefer to lose a limb than have to speak publicly in front of an audience. However, the reality is that being able to speak effectively to a group of people when required, is a skill that is both relatively easily developed and important to professional success.

Now, as the last stage of this introductory reflection on the importance of effective interpersonal skills, click on the following link posted by the Australian Institute of Business.

After reading the posts, compare the communication approach of your organisation (or an organisation that you are familiar with) to the suggestions in the reading.

In your opinion, is communication managed effectively or is there room for improvement? Why?

Drawing on your responses above and with the information that these blog posts provide, identify three (3) areas or skills you will start to focus on, with the goal of developing your interpersonal communication skills over the course of this term.

Effective Public Speaking

This clip is of Steve Jobs – CEO and founder of Apple computers. Jobs had an unconventional and but very successful career/pathway through his life and in this clip, shares some of his life’s story and wisdom with a university commencement speech to Stanford University students in the USA.

Steve Jobs | Stanford Speech | 15 mins

Now, I would like you to watch the speech again and we are going to more formally explore the structure of the speech. Please printout and use the Speech Structure Document and as you listen to the speech again, explore the structure of his speech in the following format:

This exercise should have given you a deeper insight into how an excellent narration is constructed. An outstanding speech is something that is crafted, but within the reach of everyone in following a few simple techniques and attention to detail.

Next, watch this clip by Barack Obama and the assessment of his technique by the two political commentators that narrate the clip. This clip is on one specific speech that he delivered in his presidential campaign of 2004 (before he was elected) and still considered an outstanding oration to this day. After watching the clip, please answer the following questions.

The speech that made Obama President | 6:13 mins

Now, we are going to answer a similar set of questions that we answered when assessing the Stanford address by Steve Jobs, except this time, it is about the speech by Barack Obama.

To finish, watch these clips, where the speakers demonstrate a number of very common mistakes for a presenter who lacks confidence.

Please take notes on each clip with suggested improvements.

Non-Verbal Communication – Body Language

Non-verbal communication is an essential element of how we communicate with one another. Did you know that the spoken word only makes up 30% of the message that we exchange?

Have a look at this clip for an introduction to body language and the importance of developing an understanding of both your body language and the body language of others. Write down the words that describe how you ‘read’ the following images.

Please note that depending on your internet connection the slideshow loading time may vary.

Body Language at Work in Business: Tips for Better Communication | 2:09 mins

You may be surprised that our analysis at the moment doesn’t include the message or the content of what the speaker is saying. To be a great speaker, of course you need solid content. However, to begin with we want you to understand the mechanics of great public speaking. As I mentioned above, and I’ll say it again (for effect), more than half of the value others perceive in your speech comes not from the words you use, but from your delivery.

Watch this  narrated clip, where Communication Coach Michael Kelly analyses ex-prime minister Julia Gillard’s body language for further insight into the impact of this important (and often underestimated) communication tool. Please read the article that follows.

In the following two clips on body language, Amy Cuddy (a Professor from Harvard Business School and social psychologist) presents a fascinating insight from her research on how our body language shapes who we are, and how we can better control it. Watch her TED talk on this topic and take a couple of minutes at the end to consider how you might apply some of her insights into your own life (or that next job interview).

Amy Cuddy | Game Changer | 5:58 mins

Amy Cuddy | Fake it Till you Make it | 15:17 mins

Lastly, a couple of funny ones, that we can all ‘read’ but that demonstrate again, body language communicates more than words often can.

Public Speaking – Over to you!

In the last section of this week’s content – the focus now turns to you..! (I can hear the silent scream). Remember – you’ve got this! All the content that you will need to plan and prepare your first short talk is in this section and you get to present to someone that you know well…. We’ll save the scary audience for later in the course……. Only Joking!

I want you to know that with increased familiarity will come increased comfort as a speaker. Nobody starts out as a great speaker, nobody. Here's one of my favourite quotes. This is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once said,

"All great speakers were bad speakers at first."

I'll go even further. All speakers experience nerves. You can learn to do what they do, which is to control the nerves and use them to help you deliver with energy instead of allowing them to cause you problems.

It all starts with watching the greats (this is what our first assignment will be focusing on), analysing them using the variables we covered, and then slowly improving what you're doing as a speaker, variable by variable. With patience and a little time, you just might become a great speaker too.

Please view the whole series of short tutorials on Overcoming your fear of Public Speaking.

Managing verbal fillers. “um, er, ah, like.”

Overcoming your fear of public speaking

Short – tips for preparing and overcoming anxiety

Developing great body language as a speaker

Developing great body language

Basic structure of speech

The following information will help you to plan the final exercise for this week. Click on the link for information and a suggested structure of planning a simple talk. This is a good example of a structure that you can follow for the two minute talk you will be preparing.

Next, use the Speech Structure Template to plan your own short talk.

Plan a short talk

Now is your chance to put into practice the points that we have presented above. Hopefully you have observed some areas that you could develop from watching some outstanding speakers and are ready to take on the challenge of developing your skills.

The Exercise:

Taking the information presented above, plan a two (2) minute speech. This could be on a number of topics:

A hobby || A project at work || A recent or upcoming holiday or other travel experience || Something you are currently interested in.

Hint: think about points or ideas that are interesting and engaging and consider the transition between them as you move through your talk.

Using the Speech structure template, plan out the points you will make, in addition to the introduction & conclusion. It is important that you DO NOT READ directly from this form, it is there to help you prepare and remind you if you need to keep yourself on track.

Lastly, what will you like to be mindful of as you present your talk? Choose one thing to work on and propose a solution: e.g.

“I tend to rush my speech from feeling nervous”. Solution: start with three deep breaths and take a breath/pause at the transition of each point in your speech.

Now – once you have prepared your speech, present to someone you are familiar with. As you finish, ask them to provide you with a little feedback:

e.g. something that you did well and something to work on.

It would be great if you could now practice your speech again, either do the same one a second time to feel more confident or choose another topic and plan out a different speech. If you don’t have anyone to easily present to, an alternative is to use your phone to record yourself presenting. While sometimes difficult to watch, it’s a great way to get immediate feedback!

To conclude, I’d like to acknowledge that at this stage, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed at the leap you think you need to make to improve your skills, or you might be feeling pretty good and it’s just a bit of fine tuning.

Don’t despair. Change takes time and commitment and the hardest but most important step to take is the first one (which you have just taken).

In conclusion, read this short blog post that makes practical suggestions on how to make change and write down two (2) skills that you commit to working on throughout this course.


Created with images by Gellinger - "phone communication call" • EyeMindSoul - "Irony" • phalinn - "Steve Jobs" • familymwr - "Photographers expand horizons in 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest 110311" • hzv_westfalen_de - "gramophone turntable shellac disc" • vanleuven0 - "microphone radio broadcast" • bomei615 - "telephone phone sound"

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