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Nine practical ways to improve verbal communication

Verbal communication skills are essential skills in today’s business environment.

Most of us will have participated in formal communication skills training such as ‘Presentation Skills’ or ‘Business Development Skills’ courses.Many courses cover the formal, planned and group situations we often face. But they rarely cover our regular, informal ones, such as discussions, meetings, workshops, telephone calls and conversations.

The following tips are a starting point to help you think about how you can improve your verbal communications skills, whether in planned or unplanned situations:

1. Read more – Simply increasing what you read (business texts, novels, newspapers etc) can improve your vocabulary, help you express ideas clearly and eliminate weaknesses in your language skills.

2. Think about the words – Too many words will bore your listener, take up too much time and result in you losing credibility. There is no need to waffle! Remember not to use words that people don’t understand (they may not even tell you that they don’t understand what you are saying), as you may appear intimidating and make them feel inferior.

3. Prepare (if you can) – You would spend time planning what you would say if you were writing. You would also think about how to make it accessible to as many readers as possible. If you know of an approaching situation, take time out to think about the questions you may be asked and what answers you may need to give. If you are delivering a presentation, you should be prepared for awkward questions and situations where you may need to explain something in a different way.

4. Listen and be interested – Listening more and talking less means you will understand and bring your listener into the conversation. This helps them to trust you and make them feel that you really understand their needs. When they talk, be interested and show your interest. This will improve the rapport you are trying to build. Using note-taking skills like Mind Mappingcan help you to take more effective and memorable notes.

5. Be aware of non-verbal communication traps – The impact of the words you say is only a small element of the communication you are giving. You should make sure that your words, their tone, the gestures you make, facial expressions and body language you use, are all relevant to your conversation.

6. Honesty is the best policy – Promising something that is not possible will break down any trust that you have developed. Telling someone that you “don’t know – but can find out” is more positive than just trying to give an answer you hope is effective.

7. Show and seek some understanding – Look for understanding from your audience. It’s easier to back track at certain points in your conversation than revisit the whole conversation again – or you risk getting the wrong results because your audience did not understand! You can use this when delivering or receiving a message. Occasional summaries and confirmation questions can be extremely useful.

8. Think about perspectives – Think about what you are saying from the other person’s perspective. Just because you understand what you mean, it doesn’t mean that they will.

9 Develop your skills – There are a number of techniques you can learn to help improve your verbal communication skills.

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Skills development is one of the key features of the B-BBEE act and therefore, Learneship is another ‘easy’ way to improve your B-BBEE Score.

By offering skills development learnership at work, you will not only develop your employees but you will also make a contribution to empowering your industry.

Skills Development contributes 20 points to the scorecard and are split between the level of investment in skills development as a percentage of payroll and people employed through both learnerships and internships.

If you plan to set up a learnership within your company, you must make sure that it complies with the following six criteria to enhance your BEE Scorecard:

Your company’s learnership program must:

      Consist of a structural learning component

 

      Include practical work experience

 

      Be Registered through a SETA

 

      Must be governed by a learnership agreement

 

      Lead to a SAQA NQF registered qualification and

 

    Relate to an occupation

If your learneship program meets the above criteria you could add 20 points to your scorecard and you will have well-trained prospective employees to choose from when you need to hire new staff.

Re: How to Improve Written Communication.

Types Of Correspondence
Effective written communication affects all aspects of your fitness career, including “your ability to successfully connect with your staff, educate your clients about important fitness concepts and make a positive first impression on prospective customers,” according to Amanda Vogel, MA, writer and owner of Active Voice, a writing, editing and consulting service for fitness professionals, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Honing excellent writing skills doesn’t apply only to the marketing materials you commonly think of, such as articles, newsletters, brochures, fliers and website copy. Effective written communication also applies to more routine, business-related correspondence, including the documents described below.

Welcome Letters to New Clients and Participants. The sale of a fitness program doesn’t stop when your clients register for your program or class. A welcome letter that thanks them for their business and summarizes how your exercise program will help meet their fitness goals shows that you’re a professional and their decision to work with you was a smart one.

Requests for Medical Clearance. When you have clients or class participants with health issues that require medical approval, there are insurance and legal policies that require you to obtain that approval in writing. While it’s common practice to use the one-size-fits-all medical clearance form, a more effective approach would be to include, along with the form, a well-written cover letter that explains who you are, your credentials and how you plan to approach your client’s (their patient’s) exercise program.

Internal Organizational Memos. Whether you own a studio or work for a fitness facility, you may have to write correspondence to your subordinates, superiors or co-workers. The purpose could be as simple as introducing new fitness staff or as complex as giving the details about a major change in your company’s pricing structure.

Instructions. Instructional correspondence helps the reader complete a task. You may need to write exercise instructions for your clients, equipment operation instructions for club members, procedures on how to complete a transaction for staff, or posters with instructions about what steps to take in an emergency.

Incident Reports. Unfortunately, the nature of the fitness business exposes you to the possibility of experiencing a health- or safety-related episode with clients, class participants or staff. For an Incident Report as for a Request for Medical Clearance, you most likely will use a standard form; however, most forms require a written statement, either within the form or attached to it, describing the details of what occurred and when, who was involved and where it happened.