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    • kaz

      At the beginning of the year my wife and I set personal, family and relationship goals. One of my goals is to become a better communicator. I suck (it seems). I want to be able to tell ideas to others. I want to be effective in delivering a new message with the right tone and teach. And I want to communicate better by listening.

      This is tricky. I’m looking to start reading books to help me. I know how to read. I just choose not to because I’m so tired. So I’m looking for tips to get started, like audio vs paper, or only do at a certain time, etc.

      And more importantly, what are good books for me?

    • cvdavis

      Toast Masters was always popular if you wanted to become a better speaker. Finding a format to practice your method of communicating is the most important thing in my opinion. Think of it like you do sports and work at it like you work at being competitive in sport. I think we need to know a bit more about your end goal to better be able to help you. For example do you just want to communicate with other people you meet or do you want to go on a speaking tour?

    • cvdavis

      I used to read lots of positive thinking and self help books. What I learned is that you should find someone (or a few people) you think of as excellent communicators and emmulate aspects of their techniques so long as it fits your personality. We'll all develop our own personal style of doing things of course.

    • kaz

      Hey cvdavis. I want to most importantly be a better communicator to my wife and my kids.

      Next I want to learn to be a great communicator to professionals across industries- telling them about my experience, ideas, something about work, or whatever!!! to make sure they know what I’m talking about. I speak with so many people each day that I want to stay on the point.

    • cvdavis

      First off I'm not going to say I'm an expert on this topic. I am a 47 year old math/science/PE teacher (grades 5-9) with 7 years of university (HBA, MA, B.ed) and I'm an avid reader of mostly non-fiction. So while I'm no expert I do consider myself a student of many things or rather a generalist. I do have some ideas about this though that I've developed/learned over the years. Here are some ideas:

      My list of things to do that follows mostly doesn't include reading books on it. Being a great communicator can be developed without having to necessarily read about it, especially since you aren't all that much of a reader though you seem ready and willing to start doing it. I have recommended a book or two however.

      1) FIgure out what you actually think or believe on the topic. I think this is best done by actually writing it down. Start with a topic, make some point form notes or an outline on it, and then clarify your thoughts by either writing a series of main point notes, or other form of a written answer. This could be informal or essay format. If you can't write it out clearly then you don't really understand the material - in this case the ideas you want to clarify. What may surprise you (as it does me) is that we often only have a superficial idea or understanding of where we really stand on many issues. Writing it down will clarify it for you.

      2) Discuss the topic at length with a trusted partner or the person you want to communicate with. I'm referring to people who have plenty of time to talk at length on the issue. Start by saying this is a work in progress and understand that you're still developing your ideas about the topic. I am of course assuming you haven't yet fully clarified your exact ideas about the topic. Understand that you may have to reword what you're saying several times until you actually get at exactly what you mean. You need the other person to be somewhat uncritical or at least understanding that your first try or two may not be successful in communicating your message.

      3) Summarize in words or writing where you now stand on the issues. Lecturers and authors are the people in my mind who communicate their ideas the best. How do they do it? We they usually do the above but then either get other people to read, critique, edit and/or help them rewrite the material. Teachers/professors have the added advantage that they get to keep presenting the material over and over to new groups and tweak their arguments to clarify things, counter criticisms and/or weaknesses and just generally strengthen their argument aka communicate more effectively. This format is for something you want to communicate with over and over and/or to a lot of people. It doesn't really apply to just being a better speaker but it can help that too.

      4) If you don't have a ready audience to practice communicating your message with, then find one. Where? Well try a site like Youtube, create a blog, find a website with people with similar ideas to your own, Cake.co or other Internet site that has a blog/conversation format.

      5) Try writing a weekly column. It need not be published but it could be. It could even be done within a household and published on the fridge for example. Kaz Column: This week I want to express my thoughts on family trip planning... Go with the flow and write up whatever is on your mind that week. Instead of a column you could do a small talk at say dinner or maybe make a mini video to be saved and added to the family archives. Whatever writing you do decide to do (if any), share with your partner or the person you want to communicate with. Encourage them to do something similar.

      6) Practice communicating in the medium you wish to have the most eventual impact in. If you want to be a great orator for example then you'll have to speak. If that's the case then read historic speeches that are well known for having moved people or changed history. Learn why they had such a big impact. Was it the message itself? The timing? The way it was presented?

      7) Ask people to repeat back to you what they think your message was. This is big for teachers but works for family members and for a significant other. It's a fast way to figure out if the other person is actually getting your message.

      8) Read books like how to Win Friends and Influence People. You may have already read this. The main point of this in my mind is to understand that people don't necessarily want to hear your message but to tell you THEIR own story. They want others to genuinely listen to and care about them. Get them to think you really care about them and get them talking about themselves and they'll like you and think you're a great communicator even if you didn't really say much. Remember communicating is also about listening, body language and acknowledgement as much as being the speaker.

      9) Read books that help you start conversations. I've read a great book like this in the past and I wish I could remember the title of it but it changed my life. Again the main point of these books is to get the other people talking about themselves, have some conversation piece to help aid these conversations, smile, be sincere, listen. From the few posts you've typed on here I already think you are a good communicator but of course everyone can improve. I'm working on it by typing this.

      10) Ask others to criticize your message and delivery. Only pick people you trust and first accept the worst that could happen if you ask and they tell.

      11) Join a group. When I go to California for example I sometimes go to a critical thinking meet up group. In Calgary I've gone to a couple of CFI (Centre for Inquiry) meet ups at a pub. Basically it's a meet up of people with similar interests. We talk about whatever is on people's minds and we argue the validity of each side of the issue. It's my belief that arguing issues (respectfully and about facts) forces you to clarify your ideas and strengthen your argument from attacks. I'm not saying you should join the same meet up groups as I have but find some group of thinkers that like to talk about the things that are important to you and join them. This may simply mean joining a family barbeque.

      12) Accept that people convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. In other words it's hard to change other people's minds and the most logical argument isn't necessarily a winning argument. Sometimes winning an argument means losing the argument. That is if you 'win', the other person may feel alienated, attacked, disrespected, stupid and therefore just not like you. People also often strengthen their own beliefs when they are challenged.

      13) Keep a diary. Yep that's right you are never too old for a diary. It could be a journal. You could add some drawings, maybe family pictures. Whatever you want. Communicating can be done in many ways.

      14) Start writing a book. Not full out but short essays that could later be turned into a book chapter or part of a chapter.

      15) Start a Youtube channel. Be prepared to get trashed and thrashed. Some criticisms will be valid, others not so much.

      16) If you're religious join a church and start taking on larger leadership roles.

      17) Join a choir. Exercise your vocal chords and learn how to breath properly while singing and talking.

      18) You must have certainly done a Google search on the all time top sellers of books on communication.

      https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Communication-Skills/zgbs/books/2560

      19) Write down some communicating goals. Make them real. Share your goals with trusted individuals you know will support and encourage you on your journey.

      20) Talk about things you are passionate about but also listen to other people talk about things they are passionate about. See how you become more interested about things the more you learn about them. Pay attention to how passionate speakers communicate.

      21) Watch Ted videos. Well that is if verbal communication is your top goal. Don't just watch the video though but watch their body language. Shut the audio off. Are you still interested in watching them? The really good communicators will often still seem somewhat interesting even with the audio off.

      22) Write more Cake.co posts but go in lots of depth.

      23) Join Toast Masters

      24) Run for a political position

      25) Set goals on communication. Write down reasons why it'd be worth your while. Write down what it would look like (sound like) if you were the communicator you dream of becoming. I went to a goal setting workshop with Zig Ziglar and took a few day long seminar by Brian Tracy. One thing I think that really helps us accomplish things is writing down and regularly reviewing our goals. But don't just set goals. Make sure you have a long list of reasons why your efforts will be worth it.

    • kaz

      Hey cvdavis. Wow! Thanks for all that. I don’t know if you drink but you deserve a drink for posting all that. Great stuff.

      Here’s to you 🍻

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      I know a guy. Most people know him from books, being a business school professor at Stanford, or his leadership consulting firm.

      But I got to know him and his 7 sons personally in everyday life. He's fascinating!!

      In 2016, he wrote this Harvard Business Review article on what great listeners really do. I love it so very much. I've shared it maybe 20 times and I re-read it myself every few months because, if anyone needs it, it's me. I can talk way too much and tell long, meandering stories. Before I meet with anyone, I remind myself of how much I need Jack's article.

    • kaz

      Thank you so much. I am moving this to the top of my todo list.

      By the way, you tell the most fascinating and inspiring stories. I always walk away feeling so driven and much more energized about things after I talk with you.

    • Chris

      Thank you. 😊 Considering how many days and hours you had to listen to me in the gym, I'm surprised you can stand me anymore.

      Obama told a story to Letterman about one of his daughters. He found out she got a poem accepted for publication. "Can I see it?"

      "No dad."

      He explained how he'd love to see it and will probably love it. After some back & forth, she relented but said she doesn't want to hear a word from him about it.

      "But I'll probably love it."

      "No dad. Not a word."

      Maybe it's a parent/child thing that happens to the best of them, but have you noticed how quickly my sons leave the room when I start to tell a story? I'm trying to learn and not become that guy for you guys.

    • Bradford

      i had to present and communicate effectively in my last job quite a bit. I was given some tasks to improve. One of them was to read the book “You are the Message”. It is available in all formats from Amazon. While you might not agree with the author’s political view (I don’t) the book was still very effective.

      As I worked internationally, i also became aware about being precise in word choices and avoiding colloquialisms i.e “Bob is your uncle” to increase the effectiveness of presentations and meetings. I still try to avoid slang and vernacular as a result. That has helped improve communication.

      There is of course the other thing, I avoid saying I don’t know when the wife asks me what I want for dinner. The better, and yet the same answer, I am not sure, I don’t really have a craving or preference at the moment.

    You've been invited!