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38. Communication Tips for Public Speaking or Negotiating




Description and Purpose:

Tips on verbal communication.


Consider the following communication tips for public speaking and negotiation, and try to incorporate any approaches that are suitable for your national situation.

Voice and Delivery

  • Voice: Speak clearly and project your voice. Speak with enthusiasm and conviction. Don’t talk too quickly, or too slowly.
  • Language: Avoid the use of abbreviations, jargon or complex language. Simple, expressive speech is more effective.
  • Humor: Humor can increase interest, but ensure that it is used appropriately.
  • Statistics: The use of statistics or figures can be effective if they are used sparingly and for impact (e.g. 91% of all children around the world are now in school. But that still leaves 72 million children missing out.). But beware as too many statistics can be boring!
  • Respect: Avoid using derogatory remarks relating to race, creed, sex, age or color, as these can offend and alienate.

Assertive Communication

  • Speak in short, direct sentences
  • Use phrases such as “I think,” “I believe,” and “in my opinion” to show that you assume responsibility for your thoughts.
  • Ask others to clarify what they are saying when you are not certain you understand them.
  • Describe events objectively rather than exaggerating or embellishing.

Body Language

  • Maintain eye contact (as this helps to build up a relationship). Switch eye contact between people when talking with a group.
  • Avoid overt body language and mannerisms. Be relaxed and confident. Have an open posture and gestures. Don’t be rigid, but don’t fidget or gesticulate too much.
  • Stand upright, with a relaxed stance. Place your feet comfortably apart, and arms hanging loosely by your side (when not in use).
  • Smile at those you are talking to (when appropriate). Convey charisma and warmth.
  • Maintain an easy spatial distance. Try to get close to those you are talking to, but not too close as to crowd them.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence or pauses. Some space and time is sometimes needed for the person you are with to think and reflect.

Active Listening

  • Watch for non-verbal signals
  • Lean forward and look interested
  • Pay attention: do not let your mind wander on to what you are going to say next!
  • Show empathy
  • Summarize to show understanding
  • Use encouraging contact words (e.g. "I see") or nod in agreement
  • Ask non-threatening, open questions (to build understanding and dialogue)
  • Do not fiddle, look bored or look at your watch
  • Do not interrupt, change the subject or bring in your own viewpoints when the target is talking

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