5 Steps to Better Communication

The Public Speaker’s 5 expert tips on improving your interpersonal communication skills.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #155

We live in a goal-driven world. We create vision and glory boards, hang motivational posters in our offices, and pin inspirational words on Pinterest, My friend Mallory recently set a goal to run a 10k by summer. She created a blog about it and updates her Facebook status almost daily. “I ran 1.5 miles without stopping today!” She announces. “I’m officially a runner!” and “One step closer to my goal.”

Like Mallory, we set goals for exercise and health. We set career goals, personal goals, and financial goals. But have you ever thought about creating communication goals?

Although effective communication is how we achieve all of our goals, it’s often overlooked when it comes to goal-setting. In school we’re taught reading and writing, yet rarely (if ever) are we taught to be smart about what we say and how we say it. We aren’t taught communication skills. 

Some people think that good communicators are born with those skills, but research suggests that with effort and practice, all of us can easily improve our communication skills. 

What are some areas you might want to focus on? Perhaps you want to get better at first impressions and introducing yourself. Or maybe you’d like to be more comfortable and engaging when making conversations. Perhaps you’d like to work on being more inspiring and motivating, or better at keeping in touch, or better at giving and receiving feedback, or you’d like to brush up on your diplomacy skills. 

Too often, for many of the areas I mentioned above, we have some vague notions that trick us into thinking we are effective communicators. But often, we realize that we really don’t have the communication skills we need only when we have a problem, or after we’ve significantly damaged a relationship.

So, today, we’ll cover the 5 steps to more effective communication:

Step #1: Establish a Timeframe

Like any goal, set a deadline.  

Is the morale on your team waning or worse, dismal? Donut Monday or Smoothie Tuesday isn’t really solving your problem. Better to deal with it before you lose your best people. Pick a date to have a meeting, and block it off on your calendar.

Do you avoid delivering feedback because you figure it won’t change anything anyway? Then you’re missing out on some key opportunities, both for you as well as for your colleagues and employees. Check out my episode on the Importance of Feedback for the 4 steps to delivering effective feedback, then schedule a meeting to create a detailed plan of improvement for your feedback delivery.

Step #2: Create an Objective

All communication plans begin with your objective. Why do you send that weekly status email to your boss? Why did you set up a video call with your top customer? Your objective for the morale meeting is simple – to make people want to come to work every day. Your communication goals for this meeting should be based on that. Although the goal is simple, achieving it may not be.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.