Verbal Communication Skills: Examples and 7 Tips
Updated March 10, 2023
Verbal communication occurs whenever you use words to convey information and this can include both written and spoken words as well as sign language. Strong verbal communication skills can build your confidence and help you form meaningful personal and professional relationships.
In this article, we define verbal communication skills, explain the three common types of verbal communication with examples, and we explore how to effectively use verbal communication in the workplace.
What are verbal communication skills?
Verbal communication skills refer to the way you relay a message through words. This can include the way you speak and the way you write. The primary goal of verbal communication is to use language to convey information clearly and concisely.
Verbal communication skills are most often employed during three situations: interpersonal communication, group conversations and public speaking. Interpersonal communication refers to one person directly communicating with another person. Group conversations refer to conversations amongst a relatively small number of people and public speaking involves one person presenting information to a large group of people.
Examples of spoken communication in the workplace
Effective verbal communication is crucial for the exchange of ideas and information in the workplace. Below you’ll find examples of the three forms of verbal communication.
One-on-one communication that is spoken can take place in several situations, including:
Annual performance reviews with supervisors
New employee training sessions
Status updates to supervisors or coworkers
Private meetings with human resources to discuss challenges or concerns
Meetings with new or potential clients to promote products or services
Communication that occurs between more than two people but less than a large audience can include the following situations:
Friendly chats with coworkers
Brainstorming sessions for new projects
Coordinating calendars with coworkers when determining deadlines and meetings
Status updates for a department
Related: 14 Rules for Public Speaking
Communication that involves a speaker and a large group of people listening can occur in several situations, including:
Lectures and speeches
Training a large group of people
Presentations (will also include written communication)
Examples of written communication in the workplace
Here are some examples of effective written communication in the workplace:
Presentations (which also include spoken communication)
How to improve your verbal communication skills
Here are some tips for improving your verbal communication skills, both spoken and written:
1. Consider your message
Decide what you want to convey during your next conversation, presentation or written communication. This might involve brainstorming or outlining a list of key points you’d like to make. By reviewing the information you want to share, you can be sure your communication stays focused and concise.
For example, if you want to attend a professional conference and you need your supervisor’s approval, you might want to research the speakers at the conference and outline the kind of information you would receive if you attended. Make note of the ways in which this information could help you perform your job. Then, either prepare an email with all of these key points or schedule a private meeting with your supervisor to discuss this request.
2. Recognize your audience
Keep your intended audience in mind when communicating and consider their perspective. Your intended audience will dictate the tone of your communication, as well as the mannerisms and other aspects of verbal communication you can use to enhance your communication.
For example, it may be appropriate to use a warm and familiar tone with a coworker you've known for years, but a new client or an executive may expect a more formal presentation of your ideas.
3. Be mindful of your nonverbal communication
When you are communicating through spoken word, you should always pay attention to any nonverbal cues you might be portraying. This includes actions like eye contact, posture, laughing, coughing, yawning and facial expressions. Being aware of your nonverbal communication ensures that the message you convey through your actions or body language matches the message you convey through your words.
For example, if you're giving a presentation on a cheerful topic, you might consciously think of appropriate moments to smile so that your nonverbal communication matches the tone of your topic.
4. Speak clearly
Think about how you want to speak before you begin. Regulate your breathing so that it remains steady while you talk, and consider how quickly or slowly you need to talk. Speaking clearly can improve how well others understand you and ensure that the words you say come through and remain with your audience. One of the most important aspects of speaking clearly is adapting to your audience, setting and message so that your tone matches the information you want to share.
For example, if you're presenting a complex topic to a roomful of people, you might speak more slowly and loudly than in a one-on-one meeting.
5. Choose your written words carefully
Just as you would speak clearly, you would also write with clear intent. Using an outline, as encouraged above, will help you stay focused on your topic. But you’ll also want to choose words and phrases that are appropriate for your intended audience.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your written communication is not too long or filled with unnecessary detail. Likewise, make sure that your communication isn’t too brief and contains the essential points of what you’re trying to communicate.
For example, if you’re updating a supervisor on your quarterly progress, you’ll want to organize your report in relevant sections, gather significant data to back up your progress milestones and include only information that pertains to the quarter you are discussing.
6. Practice active listening
Know when to stop speaking when you are "the sender" and prepare to listen as you become "the receiver" when the other party is speaking. Active listening will ensure that the sender and receiver are equally exchanging messages and feedback.
For example, decide on the best moment in your presentation when you might pause to invite the audience to respond or ask questions. As you become the receiver, you can practice active listening skills, so that you can answer questions or respond to feedback calmly and effectively.
7. Think before you hit “reply”
This might be considered the written equivalent of active listening, but it’s important to think before you reply in writing, especially if the topic is something that’s causing confusion or debate.
For example, if a coworker emails to say that you’ve missed a deadline, review your calendar to confirm that you have in fact missed a deadline and/or the project was indeed assigned to you. If there was a miscommunication on your part, you can apologize and prioritize the project. If there was a miscommunication on their part, you can calmly correct the confusion.
Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.
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