Some people seem to have a natural knack for communicating. Whether they’re engaging in casual chit-chat, presenting to a board room of executives or answering a prospect’s questions, they appear comfortable in their skin and skilled when they’re speaking. 

You, too, can communicate effortlessly – you might just need to let go of some long-held communication beliefs. Genevieve Michaels, a contributing writer for Atlassian, learned a few tips from Matt Abrahams, a Stanford lecturer and author of Think Faster, Talk Smarter, on how anyone can overcome these myths to think and speak better on their feet. We share these misconceptions and what to do instead in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

Your message needs to be perfect. Most of us want to do the best we can, but that’s not how spontaneous communication works, Michaels says. Instead, allow yourself to be satisfied with “good enough.” This helps you communicate from a more relaxed place.

If you’re nervous, you didn’t prepare. Remember that nerves are normal – especially in high-stakes situations, she says. Try relieving symptoms like chewing gum if your mouth gets dry or holding a cold water bottle if you blush easily.

You’re performing when you communicate. It can feel like all eyes are on you and that you need to deliver a memorable, impactful message. Michaels learned that’s it’s better to instead treat communication like a conversation. This is true even if you’re in front of a packed room. Use less formal language and focus on listening over speaking.

It’s best to prepare a script. If you do this, Michaels says you lose the ability to listen and respond in the moment. You must be self-focused rather than other-focused. Rather than racking your brain for scripted responses, it’s better to choose a general structure and core message without reading from a script word for word.

Don’t ever make mistakes. If you lose your train of thought or stumble over a few words, your career isn’t over. Michaels says to think of mistakes as “missed takes.” If a Hollywood film director needs a few tries to get the right shot, why should your communications be spot-on every time? If you mess up, acknowledge it and move on.

Make a list of your key takeaways. While strong communication needs some structure, remember not to package everything up with little room for spontaneous discussion. Michaels says jotting down important points is helpful in the brainstorming stage, but let it stay there.

Try reflecting on how you communicate with your clients, prospects and colleagues. There might be a few ideas you can unlearn that can help you think faster and talk smarter.  

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Genevieve Michaels is a contributing writer for Atlassian.