Near the Blarney Castle in Ireland sits the infamous Blarney Stone. It is believed that kissing the Blarney Stone can grant you the gift of gab. While that seems strange to some, who are we to question tradition?

Getting better at that gift of gab can take years, whether it’s public speaking or being a better conversationalist. You can learn about it on talk shows, radio programs, clubs dedicated to public speaking, and even ordinary—you guessed it—conversation. Regardless, there are certain universal concepts and rules that apply to interactions with words.

What better way to become a more effective communicator than to learn ten of those ways you can improve your communication?

1. Know what you know.

Education is all about learning. But to be an effective communicator, you need to practice what you learn. Sure, we all have our limitations, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share what we do know.

2. Listen to yourself.

Sometimes listening to your own voice can help you be more confident. You might learn you have good habits you didn’t know about, or some bad ones you need to improve.

3. Be humble.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we may slur our words, stutter, mumble, or even mispronounce words. When that happens, feel free to make a joke out of it! It will make others laugh, and you’ll feel better.

4. Make eye contact.

There’s a lot to be said for maintaining eye contact with whoever you’re speaking with or to. It’s important whether you’re in a one-on-one setting, or speaking to a large group.

5. Kid around!

A little humor can do wonders to lift tension or stave off boredom. It helps you get the attention of others and makes you seem more approachable.

6. Be like others.

People like to talk with others who are like them. Talking with other people and making them more comfortable is part of any good interaction.

7. Talk in the shower.

Admit it, there are times you sing to yourself in the shower. Try talking out loud instead! Listening to the sound of your own voice while practicing can help you fine tune your communication style.

8. Smile!

A smile says a lot. There’s no point acting serious all the time, unless you’re at a wake. It’s easier to get people listening to you if you’re smiling, and a smile is contagious!

9. Have a role model.

You probably know at least one or two people who you admire for their ability to communicate. They’re not perfect, but you can take mental notes of how they communicate to help yourself improve.

10. Prepare.

Whether you’re talking in a one-on-one setting or speaking in front of a crowd, make the most of the opportunity to prepare. You can write things down ahead of time, even if you don’t actually use your notes.

It never hurts to follow some of this advice when preparing to speak with or to others. Take some time and work on improving yourself!

Note: Blarney stone image courtesy Alan Heardman.

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