How To Improve Your Communication Skills

Communication is an essential skill, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to master. We’ve all been that person stumbling over words in a meeting or unsure of exactly how to craft that complicated email. Both speaking and writing can be daunting tasks, especially when it’s required for work, big school projects, or even just communicating important messages to people in your life. Luckily, most skills improve with effort and regular practice, and writing and speaking are no exception.

If you’re looking for ways to break out of bad writing or speaking habits and become a more effective communicator, the best place to start is right here. We’re sharing simple steps you can take to start improving your communication skills right this minute. No matter what projects or big events you have on your plate, here are 10 easy-to-follow tips to boost your writing and speaking abilities in any setting.

How to improve writing skills

1. Write to your audience.

Before you write a single word, think about who your reader is. Not only will doing this help you decide what information to include, but it will help you add a defined tone and purpose to your writing. For example, when writing a cover letter, listing general skills that could apply to any job is unlikely to get you noticed. If you take time to personalize the letter to the company and hiring team whose attention you’re seeking, you’re more likely to be successful.

2. Be direct.

Artful language is essential in poetry, but it can clutter written communication, particularly in business or academic settings. To make your writing more clear:

  • Use short, concise sentences.
  • Use headers to break up long passages for easier reading.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words.

If you find yourself using weak, wordy descriptions, like writing very important instead of vital, consider the aid of an online writing tool to help you find the most succinct language.

3. Get organized.

The way you structure a written piece can go a long way towards helping others understand it. Academic writing usually requires a specific structure, but for most other kinds of professional writing, you can borrow from common business writing practices. To make your writing more orderly:

  • Write the most important information first.
  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Avoid jargon or complex vocabulary.
  • Summarize important points, rather than including every detail.
  • Be as brief as possible.

4. Edit, edit, edit.

Seeking feedback on your writing can be scary, but it’s essential for spotting mistakes and learning how to write better. While you’re writing, use an editing platform, like’s Grammar Coach, to spot mistakes and improve language in real time.

When you finish a draft, proofread it. Then, try reading it out loud to check for missing words, run-on sentences, and any language that causes you to stumble. Finally, ask a trusted friend or colleague to give it a once-over. They may spot errors or small potential improvements you didn’t notice yourself.

5. Study good writing.

Do you have a coworker who writes excellent reports? Someone whose emails always come across as professional and confident? These are your teachers. Study examples of good writing, either from others in your life or by finding examples online, in newspapers, and in books. Notice what you like about the writing and which parts you respond to. As you practice your own writing, try to emulate these styles in your own way to find your best practices.

Dive deeper into ways to improve your writing with this extensive guide.

The art of public speaking

1. Be an active listener.

Some spoken communication is a solo endeavor, like giving a speech or presentation. But a lot of spoken communication happens in conversations with other people. That’s why listening is so important. If you listen actively when you talk with others, you’ll be more likely to respond appropriately, answer questions fully and make them feel heard and understood. In turn, they’ll likely walk away feeling like they just spoke to a skilled and confident conversationalist.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Preparation may not be possible for one-off conversations that happen randomly, but in all other circumstances? Go in ready! Here are some easy ways to be prepared:

  • Pre-write and practice speeches and presentations.
  • Rehearse potential answers for meetings and phone calls.
  • Educate yourself on important topics or breaking news items related to an event or project.
  • Come prepared with icebreakers at parties and social events.

It doesn’t hurt to review the different types of conversations (or small talk), too!

3. Notice your non-verbal cues.

Do you make a lot of hand gestures when speaking? What does your face do when you’re talking? It’s a good idea to be aware of these nonverbal mannerisms and how they might come across to your audience. Practice in a mirror to create some general awareness of your habits, and to try out some alternatives, like maintaining eye contact or limiting distracting hand movements. Remember: don’t obsess, just be aware.

4. Strive to sound confident.

Even when you really know what you’re talking about, certain speech patterns and word choices can get in the way. It’s natural to pause or to get lost in your thoughts when speaking. After all, there’s a lot going on in your brain! But becoming aware of these patterns and working to eliminate them can help you sound more self-assured. If you want to sound confident when speaking:

  • Eliminate filler words, like um, uh, and you know.
  • Use short sentences, rather than long, complicated explanations.
  • Stay on topic as much as possible.
  • Try for a clear, even tone. Record yourself to test this out, if needed.

5. Be brief.

We all want to make sure we get our points across, but avoid the urge to over-explain. If you provide too many examples or repeatedly clarify your points, you risk actually making it more difficult for others to narrow your words down to the main message. Instead, work on communicating your message in a few succinct points. In a collaborative or conversational setting, open the floor for questions. Most importantly, decide what your main message or idea is, and make sure each statement supports it.

Get inspired by to communicate on life's most challenging subjects by reading these quotes about the meaning of life.

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