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Mastering Effective Communication for Career Advancement

Mastering Effective Communication for Career Advancement

If moving up in your company is your aspiration, this article will help you shape your workplace communication into a career asset. It unbundles the critical skills you’ll want to enhance your verbal, non-verbal, written, and visual communication at work.

Let’s dive in.


Communication Affects Workplace Success


Communication Affects Workplace Success

Clarity is king for workplace communication. It is the essential ingredient for creating shared understanding with executives, peers, and direct reports, and for making each interaction productive.

Contrary to common belief, ‘communication’ isn’t solely the message the sender intended, or the exact words used; rather, it’s the message comprehended by the receiver. Effective communication occurs when the received message aligns with the sender’s intended message.

So, what’s the secret to building clarity in your work communications? Here’s how it breaks down for writing, speaking, or presenting at the office or in a video conference.

Verbal Communication Skills


Verbal Communication Skills

Everyone wants to communicate with confidence. But here’s the thing: great communicators aren’t born; they’re built over time–with practice. If you’re looking to enhance your verbal communication, here’s where you should focus.

  • Tone and clarity are critical when you communicate verbally.
  • Speak clearly and directly to ensure understanding.
  • Prevent information overload by being concise.
  • Keep body language open and engaged.

Here are some examples of clear and unclear communication:

Clear: “The deadline for the project is Friday at 5:00 PM.”
Unclear: “Um, I think the project is due, uh, sometime this week?”

Clear: “Please send the report to the team by email.”
Unclear: “Could you send the report out somehow?”

Clear: “We need to improve our customer service response time by 20%.”
Unclear: “I think we’re a bit slow in answering customer inquiries. Maybe we should speed things up?”

Notice the difference? And don’t forget that verbal communication is a two-way street that also requires good listening. Be sure that in conversation you listen actively during meetings, phone calls, and in-person interactions.

To hone your active listening skills, practice paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking clarifying questions. Give your full attention to conversations.


Meetings and public speaking

If you’re going into a meeting where you may be called upon to speak, preparation and structure are key. It’s a good idea to take 5 minutes before the meeting to ensure you know its purpose.

Ask yourself if you know the key points to be covered? Is there information from previous meetings you’ll need to know?

Tone, too, is important when you speak in a professional environment. Unless you’re having a chat with an old friend or colleague, it’s best to keep your tone professional, filter out the slang, and keep the purpose of your exchange clear.

Written Communication Skills


Written Communication Skills

Email will be one of the tools you use most commonly for written communication. Follow these practices from “The Rule of Fives” to make sure your email as well as other forms of written communication are effective and reflect a high level of professionalism.

Some of these practices may be new to you or seem daunting. Remember, as with learning any new skill, start small and with practice your speed and efficiency will improve.

    • Emails should be five sentences or less.
      Strive to say what needs to be said with brevity and specificity. If you need more than five minutes to compose an email, chances are it’s the wrong tool for the job. For example, if you’re answering an open-ended question, you may be better off picking up the phone.
    • Spend no more than five minutes writing an email.
      Set a timer if you must, but five minutes after the first keystroke, close your email and move on. In a perfect world you may be able to shave down the time it takes to write an email to 30 seconds—so if you write 100 emails each day you can get them all done in about an hour.
    • Your email should be a five-minute read.
      You don’t know what kind of day the recipient of your email is having. It may be as fast-paced and busy as yours. Your reader will appreciate a message that is brief enough to be read in 5 minutes or less. Anything that requires more nuance or explanation is probably best done by phone.

The five Cs of business writing

When you compose any written communication—email, formal letter, proposals, etc.–use the following practices to assure you make a positive impression:

  • Clear: Your purpose and intent must be clear to the reader.
  • Complete: Provide all the necessary information.
  • Concise: Limit the information you do include to that which is necessary and relevant.
  • Courteous: Be polite and professional.
  • Correct: Take the time to proofread what you’ve written. Use the onboard spellcheck and grammar tools if your email and word processing applications have them.

Use these tips to become a better writer

In general, written communication should aim for clarity and professionalism. Try to eliminate filler words or unnecessary words. Here are some excellent examples of how to do that and write concisely.

Also, use clear headings, bullet points, and visual aids to convey information and always proofread for grammar and spelling errors. If you’d like to add an even finer point to your written communications using tools such as Grammarly or WordRake may be helpful.

Non-Verbal Communication Skills


Non-Verbal Communication Skills

You spend a great deal of time communicating digitally but it’s nearly a certainty that you’ll have at least some face-to-face communication, whether you’re office-based or work remotely (the latter occurring via teleconference).

During those face-to-face encounters, you’ll want to make sure your non-verbal communication and body language speak well and can reinforce a thought or feeling. Following are a few tips to help guide you.

First is to simply learn from others who do it well.

Chances are there is someone in your organization who communicates extremely well. Whether it’s at meetings, presentations, or casual chats by the water cooler, there’s always one person in the office who is dynamic and engaging.

Pay attention to the tone and voice volume that person uses. Note the speed with which she or he speaks.

You’ll also want to zero in on the way that person uses eye contact. Notice whether hand gestures or other types of body language are used to project a message or elicit a response from others. Cherry pick elements that seem effective and try to put them to work for yourself.

If you do find yourself speaking publicly or presenting at a meeting, here are a few useful tips to add presence to your non-verbal communication.

  • Lean forward
  • Place your hands on the table
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Show confidence by having expanded, relaxed shoulders
Videoconference Etiquette


Videoconference Etiquette

Like it or not, nearly everyone working in today’s digital workplace eventually finds themselves in a video conference.

Anyone from a new hire to a CEO can expect to be called to present on camera, so cultivating a professional appearance is well worth the time for anyone who wants to make a good impression.

In Table 1 below, you’ll find nine essentials to help guide the way you participate in video conferences, use technology, and elevate your onscreen etiquette to its best.

Table 1







Dress to Impress
Dress as you would for an in-person meeting. Your attire reflects your professionalism.
Tech Check
Before the meeting ensure your internet connection, webcam, and microphone are working.
Nonverbal Cues
Use hand gestures and facial expressions to convey your message. Use the chat feature to interact silently.
Fashionably Early
Join the meeting a few minutes before start time to test your system and greet others.
Mute the Mic
To minimize background noise mute your microphone when not speaking.
Maintain Eye Contact
Look directly at the camera to engage with others. Avoid the temptation to multitask.
Don’t interrupt. Keep your contributions concise and respect the meeting agenda.
Preserve Bandwidth
Help ensure a smooth experience for all. Limit bandwidth-intensive activities like downloading or streaming during the call.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Actively participate: listen attentively, ask questions, offer input when appropriate.

A Capital Investment


A Capital Investment

Good communication is the handmaiden of career success. It’s essential for building positive work dynamics that will align team members and keep projects moving forward. If this article has left you wondering when to begin working on your own skills, the answer is simple:

Anytime is a good time to sharpen your workplace communication.

Think of it as a capital investment that provides an unrivaled return on problem solving and workplace harmony. The sooner you begin, the greater the payoff.


Want Another Great Payoff?

The LegalConnect platform can help litigation support service providers elevate the customer experience they provide. That includes not only turnkey technology that automates the delivery of legal documents, data, and payments between law firms and courts, but also a single, secure online system with all you need to manage your company and get customer work done.

Request a demo or contact us today and find out how to put the full power of LegalConnect to work for you.

Contact or call (800) 909-6859 to speak with a LegalConnect expert.