Many EAs are not reaching their full potential because they struggle with communication skills says Anthony Laye.
As an EA your ability to communicate has a direct impact on how skilled, trustworthy and effective people perceive you as being. You could be a highly skilled EA, but if you are not able to communicate, people may never notice your amazing talent, leaving you feeling under-appreciated and not presented with the opportunities to take your career to the next level.
Communication broken down to its basics, consists of three parts:
- Verbal—the words we say (a.k.a the data)
- Vocal—the way we say the words (use of voice)
- Visual—gestures, posture and movement (body language)
Have you ever been in the situation, just before you pick up the phone and think to yourself, “oh, what am I going to say?” Did you also think, “and how am I going to say that?”
Most EAs think about the words they are going to say, not putting much thought into how those words will be said. According to UCLA, 38 percent of communication comes from the tone of voice. Learning how to use your voice effectively will instantly improve your ability to communicate, allowing you to showcase how skilled you are and creating maximum impact.
I run a session called Voice Of A Leader where participants are guided through six elements of Vocal communication. Improving just one of these elements will give you a huge advantage.
Clarity: How easy are you to understand? If people frequently ask you to repeat a sentence, or you see them straining to listen, chances are you are not speaking with clarity. If you have a strong accent or tendency to mumble, make a conscious effort to speak so people can understand the words you are saying.
Speed: Are you a fast talker? Something I see often in people who are nervous or excited, they are so focused on getting the words out, they end up bombarding people with a tsunami of words. A mistake many people make is they think they have to slow down and end up sounding boring. If you have clarity in your speech, it may be you need to add more pauses rather than slowing down.
Tone: Are you feeling your words? Anyone can blurt out a collection of words. Communicators who captivate an audience will ‘embody’ the words, causing the listener to feel the emotion of the words. Feeling your words is as simple as elongating the vowels, read the following out loud to experience for yourself:
- Read normally—Today I woke up feeling amazing.
- Read elongating the vowels—Today I woke up feeeeeling amazing.
How did you feel reading it the second way?
Pitch: Think Bee Gees vs Barry White (if you have no idea who I am talking about YouTube will give you all the information you need). Most people talk with a default pitch, which can lead to sounding monotone, but by varying your pitch you will create a more interesting and engaging sound.
Volume: Do you sound like a megaphone or a mouse? While you don’t want to shout, the increased volume demonstrates a sign of certainty in the message you are communicating, while a lower volume can draw people in.
Pause: Are you comfortable in the silence? The pause is one of the most powerful vocal tools you have. Many EAs fear the pause—silence creates a feeling of discomfort and tension—it is this tension though that has influence. Start to explore the pause, force yourself to stay in the silence for a couple of seconds longer than normal.
One final note on the voice: contrast is the key. Don’t stay at the same pitch or volume, imagine using your voice is like a dance and allow yourself to play with the sounds you produce.
Anthony Laye works with entrepreneurs, professionals and executives who want to amplify their speaking and communication skills, so they can stand out, win trust and influence. www.anthonylaye.com