SMART Goals That Can Boost Your Communication Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 16, 2022 | Published April 26, 2021

Updated August 16, 2022

Published April 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Communication skills are crucial in professional and personal life, making everything from meetings to collaborative projects run more smoothly. If you're interested in improving your communication skills, you might try setting specific goals and analyzing the steps you can take to achieve them. The SMART goal system can help you develop realistic goals focused on your personal challenges.

In this article, we discuss how to set SMART goals to improve communication skills.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym that can help you set reasonable goals. Here's what it means:

  • Specific: Define your particular goal before you begin. Instead of aiming for emotion or quality, determine what you'd like to change, how you plan to do it, what actions you can take and why you're trying to do this.

  • Measurable: Making your goal measurable can help you track your progress. You might do this by adding numbers or specific qualities to the goal, like a certain number of attendees at an event or repetitions of the task.

  • Attainable: An attainable goal can keep you motivated and help you understand your capabilities.

  • Relevant: When goals are pertinent to your work, accomplishing them is meaningful to you and impacts those around you, your organization and your community.

  • Timely: Consider the timing of your goal so that you give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete it without neglecting any deadlines and responsibilities to others.

Why are goals important for improving communication skills?

SMART goals may seem more appropriate for setting sales or marketing goals, which are more easily quantifiable. Still, this framework can be beneficial in making measurable improvements to your communication skills. Framing specific and measurable goals can help you understand exactly what you'd like to improve. A planned goal can help you identify which techniques you can use to enhance your office's weekly meetings or provide more cohesive quarterly reports for a client, for example.

Setting goals also allows you to customize your approach to your situation. As you try new techniques, you can evaluate their effectiveness individually, keep the ones that are working and replace ones that don't fit your circumstances.

Related: Communication Skills for Career Success

Examples of SMART goals for communication skills

Here are some examples for creating SMART goals related to workplace communication. Each example addresses the five criteria crucial to SMART:

Create more effective meetings

If you find your coworkers have many questions on topics you cover in meetings, you might try implementing a SMART goal to improve their information retention. Your plan might include a specific way to document the information from meetings so that others can access it, like a bullet list summary you email to the team afterward. You then plan to note how many questions you receive regarding meeting information after you share each list with the group. Implementing this goal for three weeks could be enough time for you to measure its effectiveness.

This goal is specific because the strategy includes a specific action: creating a bullet list email summary. You can measure its effectiveness by tracking how many questions you answer on meeting content after sending out your review emails. Since you can write a bullet list quickly, you can attain this goal without a significant time commitment. This goal would be relevant and timely in an office where daily meetings and the questions they cause are a part of your routine.

Related: 18 Presentation Skills for Business and How To Improve Them

Improve writing skills for memos and emails

If you want to enhance your written communication skills, you might create a SMART goal that states you'll create an outline before you write each email. For each email, you plan to make your phrases concise, then edit out any sentences that don't fit your outline before sending. You plan to follow this method for two weeks to form better writing habits in that period.

This goal is specific and measurable because you've decided on a strategy—an outline—and criteria that will help you evaluate your writing process. It's attainable and relevant because it applies to email, a routine and specific task you complete every day. Finally, this SMART goal is timely because you've given yourself a specific timeframe to use these steps and work on this skill.

Related: Written Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Public speaking

If you want to improve your presentation skills, you might design a SMART goal like making a preparation schedule for an upcoming speech. If your speech is a month in the future, you might spend a week researching and drafting it, two weeks practicing it daily and the last week recording yourself giving the speech and adjusting your delivery.

This goal is specific because it includes precise time limits for each step, and it's measurable because you can track whether you are keeping up with your schedule and practicing. Setting a goal a month before the speech is more attainable than trying to improve your public speaking skills in one to two days. This SMART goal can be timely if you have a specific date to deliver a speech, and it is relevant because it applies directly to your work responsibilities.

Related: Top In-Demand Verbal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Motivate team

If you want to increase productivity or office morale, you might use a SMART goal that states you'll implement a new incentive strategy. You might decide on a specific incentive that appeals to your workforce, one part of your team's duties that is easily measurable and an amount of time long enough to see results but short enough to decide whether the incentive is working. You can combine these elements into a SMART goal, like trying a summer program to provide a $50 paycheck bonus to the employee who turns in the most work each week.

This goal is specific because you define all program elements before it begins. It's measurable because you can compare the rates of finished work to work rates before the program starts. It might be attainable if your company can afford the bonus payments and if you can track how much work employees do individually. This might be relevant and timely if you have a specific production goal you'd like to meet over the summer.

Improve nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is important whether you are working in the office or remotely, and it can involve body language, movement, posture, speech, facial expressions and touch. To improve your professional nonverbal communication, you can use a SMART goal to enhance how welcoming you are to new coworkers. You might do this by conducting body language research and noting the body language of others in conversations for a week, then trying some of these techniques the following week during the employee onboarding process.

This goal is specific because it involves two clear research steps and one action step defined within the plan. You can measure your success by implementing this goal with new employees so that your data is based entirely on your new interactions and not your workplace reputation. It can be attainable and timely if you usually work with new employees as part of your regular duties, and it can be relevant if you have new employees joining the team soon.

Related: Nonverbal Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

Providing individual feedback

If you want to improve the effectiveness of feedback your team members give, you might set a SMART goal for a specific part of the feedback process. You could develop a plan to improve feedback for new employees in training by creating a written goal with each team member at their first quarterly one-on-one meeting, setting a calendar reminder and checking back in each week for a month to track progress.

This goal is specific because it involves creating written performance indicators and weekly check-ins, and you can measure your success by noting check-ins on your calendar. You can spend as much or as little time on each check-in as you need to make the goal attainable within your schedule. This goal can be relevant and timely during any onboarding cycle.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Improve office communication

A SMART goal to improve your office communication might be to improve how you report overlooked team issues to the manager. You might write topics down as they arise, then present them to a manager during your next one-on-one meeting if they are still unresolved.

This goal is specific and attainable because it involves just one new task: noting issues discussed in the office. It becomes measurable after you meet with your manager when you can evaluate whether reporting that information helped create solutions to office issues. It might be relevant if your office experiences ongoing challenges, and it can be timely if you have a one-on-one meeting coming up with your manager.

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