Knowledge isn’t power.
Almost everything we know is either currently on the internet, or will be soon. If we reach a stage when every person and machine has access to the same information, what will set you apart from the pack?
Your power is through connection.
One way you’ll stand out is by cultivating an ability to communicate knowledge in a more compelling way than other people or machines can do it. We yearn for human connection, yet few people develop their skills in this area.
Presenting and speaking and telling stories is going to have a far greater application in the future than just knowing facts.
1. Your CV will get you the interview, but your communication skills land the job.
The person with the best CV doesn’t always get hired. If they did we could cancel all job interviews. Employers could simply say, “This one looks best. Hire that person.”
But, they don’t. Interviews are arranged. It’s your communication skills that determine what happens once you get in the door.
Employers don’t want to see that you simply know information. It’s your ability to talk through ideas in an intelligent, engaging way that will ensure your success.
I experienced this while I was still in school. I was at a debate and due to my fear of public speaking I chose to sit in the back row so that no one would notice me. Unfortunately, a teacher came along, tapped me on the shoulder, and asked me to stand up and read something out loud. I started shaking. I couldn’t speak. Even though I had worthwhile ideas to share with the room, I was so hampered by my own self-consciousness, that I couldn’t get those ideas out.
In this same way in an interview, the knowledge or ideas that you have suddenly become worthless if you’re not able to communicate them.
2. Learning how to communicate helps us to connect with other people.
Strong communication skills allow us to build healthy relationships.
If we feel trapped by self-consciousness or fear of rejection then we live a very limited life. We feel more alive, more fulfilled and confident when we’re able to express ourselves and feel accepted by others.
I was lucky enough to learn this for myself under very unique circumstances.
Just after leaving school, where I was never able to clearly communicate with my peers, I went to live with monks in the foothills of the Himalayas. I taught English, which was challenging on its own because no one else could speak it! I had to find a way to connect with my students non-verbally.
Even though there was no simple exchange of words back and forth, we developed a deep mutual understanding by always having to completely read what the other was thinking or by reading their feelings.
This type of congruent communication is critical in daily life. Many people lose it under the corporate armour of ‘behaving professionally’. This can lead to a life of feeling disconnected and lonely even in a room full of people. I encourage you to stay congruent because your connection with others will draw people towards you, as they sense your authenticity and appreciate your honest communication.
3. Learning communication skills can boost your confidence and feeling of acceptance.
I recently trained a young woman who was supposed to be giving inspirational lectures to students, but when she stood up to practice, her delivery was flat. She used words like “excitement” and “thrilling” while looking like she couldn’t be bothered to speak.
When I asked her what was happening, she said that’d she’d tried to speak seriously to a group about something she was passionate about, only to be mocked. “Ooh, look at you,” one person said. “You’re getting all serious.” She felt completely shut down and felt like she shouldn’t try to be expressive after that.
This experience is really common. Many people have had a situation like this, where they’ve been criticized for their ideas or delivery style. They may have held themselves back ever since.
This is where things like acting classes and presentation workshops can help to boost a person’s confidence. They give them the opportunity to stand up, be heard, and get rid of some of those limiting shackles. They can really let their voice out and be encouraged to do so.
We’re living in a time when we have so much opportunity to broadcast our ideas digitally — through computers, through social media, through email. It’s important more now than ever to remember to connect with people in person. In an age where we spend more hours facing a screen than a human, developing your people skills will become a more valuable and rare asset than ever.
You can find out more about honing your speaking and presentation skills by going to http://www.borntospeak.com and order the new book You Were Born To Speak, which contains practical, proven techniques to help you succeed.