Personal communication skills and confidence go hand in hand for almost all professionals. Your academic education, your professional training, combined with your intelligence and positive attitudes, have made you a highly competent professional. Yet, only when you are able to communicate, especially verbally, and with confidence, your strengths can be manifested and appreciated. This is what we mean by personal communication skills. If you aspire to any type of management, mentoring or leadership role in your work, no matter what your area of expertise, your personal communication skills will determine how far you are able to go.
This article is written to address the challenges that face many professionals, whose reading and writing skills exceed their listening and speaking skills, who experience fear of speaking, and who strive to achieve a high level of confidence in their personal communication.
Listening and speaking skills not on a par with reading and writing skills
In the traditional professions — particularly law and accounting, there is a considerable gap between writing skills and speaking skills.
This gap can be explained in terms of the academic requirements and training in these professions
In the first place, those professions attract people who are intellectually curious and who have an affinity for rigorous academic and professional training. Most, but obviously not all, lawyers and accountants prefer to reflect on important issues and write and read about them — as a way of energizing themselves. Between academic and professional training, most lawyers and accountants engage in work activities in solitude. Furthermore, 90% of their studies and training are completed through the mode of reading and writing.
The corporate culture also plays a role in this disparity between writing and verbal skills
Lawyers and accountants typically spend a large percentage of their time speaking to their colleagues who are in tune with their own style and jargons, their tendency to use somewhat formal, written language is often entrenched.
There is less demand on a day-to-day basis for lawyers and accountants to “think on their feet”. Most of our clients tell us that they do 90% of their communication at a keyboard. Most lawyers value their early morning, evening, and weekend opportunities to keep up with their work — and so the habit of communicating in solitude and by writing is even more intensified.
The lack of Personal performance skills becomes an obstacle to further career advancement.
In the corporate boardrooms, where personal communication skills are in high demand, there are a higher percentage of extroverted professionals, many of whom have risen through the ranks because they are particularly good at verbal communication. In situations like this, traditional professionals feel that they are at a disadvantage. Their interest is not so much in becoming a “star.” But they feel that the level of their speaking skills does not accurately reflect their professional competence.
Failure in bringing in business
Many young lawyers are shocked to discover that professional competence is only the beginning. The ability to bring in new business is often the determining factor in a lawyer’s success. Most lawyers’ personality types are at odds with the idea of gregariously “selling” oneself. Socializing with clients and potential clients is often out of their comfort zones. It is not surprising that the legal profession is not noted for its sales and marketing abilities.
Marketing is one of the greatest challenges to a law firm. There is generally not much instinct for self-promotion – and marketing is seldom given the priority it deserves. Ask the marketing manager of almost any law firm in North America — and they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, how difficult it is to get lawyers involved in the marketing and sales process.
Good verbal communication is marketing. Arguments, proposals, ideas and advice all need to be “sold.” Sooner or later the potential buyer is going to want a “live” meeting. If the verbal communication doesn’t match the written material, the “deal” may be off! Indeed, without a high level of communication skills, a law firm simply cannot sell itself.
The good news is that by simply developing personal communication skills, you can achieve your sales and marketing goals.
Our Approach and the Commanding Presence Programs
Over 80% of our clients are subject experts and highly skilled in communicating through reading and writing. Our work is simply to facilitate the natural blossoming of these talents into live, in-the-moment, self-expressions. This may seem counter-intuitive — but for 25 years now we have been helping professionals to make the transition to highly effective speaking on a regular and consistent basis. When intelligent subject experts focus their attention on their speaking ability, they are able to combine their intellectual curiosity, discipline and their passion for the subject into an extraordinarily high level of personal communication skills. Once the initial transition is made, the growth is exponential.
The Commanding Presence Programs have been designed to implement this fundamental approach, along with a set of systematically developed techniques to address the various impediments in the development of personal communication skills.
Obstacles in Developing Communication Skills
The benefits of having a high level of personal communication skills and the dire consequences of not possessing those skills should make professionals wildly enthusiastic about developing those skills. However, many professionals have not yet been able to overcome certain obstacles to achieving their goal pf becoming a master speaker.
Over the past 25 years of working with lawyers, accounts, and professionals in various organizations, we have found that the following are the most common issues that frustrate them whenever public speaking is involved:
1. Fear of Speaking
2. Not sounding credible
3. Not being able to think “in-the-moment”
In part two of the article, I will deal with each of these issues — and I hope to prove that every one of them can be relieved or eliminated very quickly.
These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our Commanding Presence Advanced Communication and Presentation Skills Two-Day workshops.
The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.
Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.