8 - Develop your communication skill . . . for your best life!

Reason for this Goal:  Good communication skill is essential for life, whether it’s for good relationships with our friends and family, or for developing within our chosen career.  If your communication skills, such as talking, speaking, listening, and writing, are poor, they will limit your success in some key areas.  

There are hundreds of books and courses available to read and attend that will help you in these areas.  Decide which of these skills are in areas you need to improve on, and which will help you the most, and develop a plan.  Dale Carnegie, a legendary person in the self-help field, developed a program called The Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Speaking and Human Relations.  It is a learn-by-doing based program.  It was founded in 1912, and is represented in over 90 countries. More than 8 million people have completed Dale Carnegie Training.

Public speaking is the communication skill that will advance your career the fastest

Of all the communication skills, many successful people, at some point in their life or career, will need to speak publicly.    One of the biggest fears people have, sometimes more than dying, is the fear of public speaking.   If you can overcome this fear and make it a strength (or, at a minimum, something you can do with a reasonable comfort level), you will advance your life.  You will get promoted faster.   You will be able to inspire others to action.   

Examples of times in which you will be called on to speak in public include . . .

  • At a wedding (as a bride, groom, best man, or maid of honor)
  • As you develop your career and are called upon to address others
  • Toasting others on their special milestone birthdays or anniversaries
  • As a guest speaker at a special event

As my daughter pointed out to me while writing this book, not everyone is going to want to embrace public speaking as something they want to aspire towards. Choose an important communication skill to work on instead, and realize that communicating well is a key life skill. The areas to work on include:

  • Listening - Most people are poor listeners as they are focusing on what they are going to say next in the conversation.  Active listening where you actively participate and take responsibility for listening is a key skill that most of us never acquire.
  • Conversation - Being able to have a good conversation with people is an essential life skill. The key to good conversation is to have good questions to ask people to learn about them and their lives. 
  • Reading - Most people never read another book once they graduate from school. Make it a habit to always have a book that you are reading.  In my cases, if you look at my night side table, I currently have 5 books on the go!
  • Writing - Being able to write is an essential skill, especially for those in business who write tens or hundreds of emails each week.  
  • Speaking - Being able to speak publicly will set you apart from others and make you much more promotable within your career. 
  • Storytelling - People who can tell stories are the ones that grab the most attention in any group setting. Over history, this is how the best communication and information is passed down between generations.  Make it a habit to document life events that are worthy of converting into mini stories that you can tell people about.   They will love you for it.  
This is me speaking at a Toastmasters meeting more than 15 years ago. Toastmasters helped improve my communication skill and confidence in speaking in front of people.

One of the best ways to develop your communication skill and become comfortable—and even good—with public speaking, is to join your local Toastmasters chapter. There are chapters in most cities throughout the world.   I joined Toastmasters after accepting an invitation to speak about my career in the Bids and Proposals field.   It is a positive and nurturing environment, with people that help you learn and develop.   The cost is reasonable, and the classes are held weekly.

Some people are gifted communicators, but others, like myself, need to constantly work at it.    It was one of the best decisions I made as I learned how to be a public speaker, a skill which I've used many times since in both my professional and personal life.  

Suggested Target Goal:  Join Toastmasters and obtain the 1st level of mastery.

Outrageous Goal:  Become the best communicator in your company or chosen career and become a good leader.



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