Hello everybody. I’m Victoria Rennoldson, Communication and Culture Coach, and welcome to Wednesday Words with communication and cultural strategies and skills for you to learn. You can choose to watch this by clicking ‘play’ on the video above, which also has subtitles.
Or, because I know that many of you like to listen to podcasts, you can listen to the audio only version, by clicking below:
Finally, you can also read the blog as well, right here below.
Today, I am going to be talking about reviewing your communication performance.
Today marks a special day because this is the 26th episode in this series of Wednesday Words. That means I have shared a full six months’ worth of communication skills and strategies with you. In that time, we’ve covered a huge range of communication topics, from disagreeing and interrupting, to listening and thinking about our performance and how to improve it.
Creating these videos and blog posts every single week has been hugely enjoyable for me; what I’ve particularly enjoyed is when people have reached out to me and told me how useful these communication strategies have been. It does mean a lot to me that these ideas are helpful to you and are having a positive impact on your performance.
Today also marks a special date because this is the last episode in this current series of Wednesday Words. Now we are approaching the summer, I’ve decided to bring this current series of Wednesday Words to an end – to review learnings and enjoy some time off with my family.
Don’t worry, however, as I will be back in the Autumn, with a slightly different version of Wednesday Words, so do watch this space!
Today’s topic strikes me as a very appropriate one to end the series on. Just like with any other work activity, it’s important to review and assess where we are in our performance.
Here, therefore, are my 5 tips on how to review your communication performance:
TIP #1: Know your communication objectives
We’re going to start at the beginning by thinking about our objectives. Hopefully, by now, you have your communication objectives clear in your mind. If you haven’t been able to articulate these, then I suggest you ask yourself a couple of simple questions:
- a) Why is it you want to improve your communication?
- b) What specifically is it going to allow you to do?
Firstly, you might want to think about specific meetings or presentations you want to communicate well in. Think about what it’s going to do for you, such as: How will that improve my confidence? How will it make me feel when I’m able to communicate in the way that I want to?
Secondly, I want you to think about your ‘ultimate goal’. If, for example, your ultimate goal is about your career or – if you’re self-employed – your business development, then how does improving your communication help you to reach that career or business goal? Do make sure your objectives are clear.
TIP #2: Focus on the positives first
Once you know what you’re measuring yourself against, then I encourage you to think about the positives first. When I’m working with my clients, I notice that they often find it difficult to be objective and quickly jump to being quite self-critical, focusing on what they’re not very good at. And what they notice about their communication tends to be ‘bad’. I encourage you to notice the ‘good’ or the positives first. Even if we can only identify one or two positive points, it’s still worthwhile.
Ask yourself: what do you like about how you communicate?
TIP #3: Find out what you need or want to improve
As I’ve already shared in a previous point, people do tend to jump to being very self-critical. What I believe can help here is to seek out some objective feedback. So take a moment to reflect – is there somebody you could ask for feedback about your approach to communication and your progress? Maybe you have a trusted colleague you could ask, who perhaps works with you on a particular project. And, of course, if you don’t have anybody to ask, then do come and ask me for feedback – I’d be more than happy to help!
Getting objective feedback from others will help you be more objective about what you need to work on next. These are your ‘focus areas’. There could be a range of different areas for improvement: maybe you’re very aware of your voice; perhaps it’s about how quickly you speak when you’re nervous, and you need to slow down; for other people, it might be about being more concise and to the point because you tend to speak for too long. Whatever it is for you, try and make it specific: what is it particularly you want to improve? Just saying ‘I want to improve everything’ or ‘I want to improve my communication’ is not enough – we need to be more detailed and specific.
TIP #4: Formulate an action plan
Getting objective feedback on your communication performance will help you clarify your focus areas. But if we only reflect on how we’re doing and on what we want to improve, then that’s just information and insight. It’s certainly useful, but we now need to turn this information and insight into an action plan.
What is it you’re going to do?
What are you going to work on first?
If you have identified several different areas that you want to improve, you may want to prioritise these. Then, you might choose only one or two that you’re going to work on initially.
Don’t lose sight of the other areas, but simply save those for the second phase of development, perhaps after the first three-month period. In order to put together this action plan, you need to work out what specifically you need to do to improve your communication skills. Is it more learning and insight you need, perhaps by watching more of these Wednesday Words episodes? Perhaps you need more detailed feedback or more personalised support; you might, for example, want to take a course or programme. Of course, I have communication programmes which I’d be delighted to speak to you about, learn more about these here.
And when you put that action plan together, be sure to make it specific: put some timings on it and make sure that you know when you’re going to go back and review the plan. A sensible approach might be to check in with yourself once a month and then do a proper review after the initial three-month period.
Make the action plan, and plan to make it happen!
If you do ever feel like things are not going to plan, I would suggest you reconnect with your why: why are you wanting to improve your communication skills? And try to capture your learnings, after trying new things; what is working and what might need to change in your plan?
TIP #5: Celebrate your wins
If we are clear about our objectives and where we are doing well, where we need to improve and what our action plan is, then we should be able to measure our progress. If we do a quick review every month, and then a longer review every three months, we should be able to start seeing some progress.
My final tip in today’s Wednesday Words is all about the importance of celebrating your wins!
Don’t forget to acknowledge the fact that you’re improving and making progress. These celebrations can be very small, like promising yourself a book you’ve been wanting to read or a nice coffee and cake in your favourite café. Think about what’s motivating for you and what you could treat yourself to – for when you stick to your plan and start seeing progress.
Here is a quick recap of my five main tips:
- Know your communication objectives
- Focus on the positives first
- Find out what you need to improve
- Formulate an action plan
- Celebrate your wins
This is how I would suggest you approach reviewing your communication performance and making sure you stay on track with your objectives. Remember, this isn’t the end – I will be back… (as a famous actor once said!) … in the autumn, with a slightly reviewed and refreshed version of Wednesday Words.
Until then, as ever, I invite you to send me your feedback and your questions as I’m always happy to hear from you.
Finally, if you have seen all 26 episodes of this series, then congratulations to you! That is fantastic and you will have invested in your learning and development. If you have missed any episodes, then this is your opportunity to catch up while we’re taking a break over the summer.
I have created some links below, so you can enjoy reviewing, discovering or rediscovering the most popular topics for Wednesday Words.
- Interrupting appropriately
- How to disagree well
- How can I sound clear, concise and professional?
- Cultural Icebergs
- Top listening techniques
- How does culture influence online meetings in international teams?
Thank you so much for joining me for today’s last episode in this current series of Wednesday Words. It’s been an absolute pleasure to share all these communication skills and strategies over the last few months, and I will be back in the autumn.
Communication & Culture Coach
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