There’s an old adage: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to keep bad news to yourself, but there is good news. Whether good news or bad, it’s all in the presentation. Here are a 6 ways to practice creativity in communication skills.
1. Implore your strengths. Use what you know to present information. If you’re a math person, give an equation; if you relate most to music, think of your presentation or discussion as a song. Whatever you’re trying to present and regardless of the audience, if you’re not comfortable, your audience won’t be, either.
2. Recognize your weaknesses. If there is something lacking in your viewpoint or research, don’t try to cover it up. Acknowledge it, take note of how it might be important, and move on. Don’t dwell on what you can’t be in control of. If it’s essential to your work, find ways to get the information you’re lacking and come back with it later.
3. Try a new perspective. Put yourself in the position of your boss, employee, client, customer, friend, or stranger. How might each of these people view your communication skills? Are you pleasant? Are you smiling? Are you assuming the other is full of good will or bad? Did you do everything you could to explain yourself in clear, concise language? How else might you present it?
4. Improvise. If you get stuck and your audience doesn’t seem to be getting it, change your course of action. Take a detour and tell a story that’s relatable, explain with analogies and metaphors, use everyday language, role play or walk someone through the process themselves. Change your intonation. Change your location, if possible. Get moving – some people learn better when using multiple parts of their bodies, instead of staying stagnant.
5. Get excited. Talk with your hands. Use gestures and colorful (no, not that kind!) language – paint a verbal picture.
6. Use visual aides. Paint a literal picture. Some people need to see something in order to be able to fully process something. Make sure to provide clear visuals that are easily explained with numbers, values, and titles.
Building relationships and successfully collaborating with others comes from the ability to interact creatively. If you can plan ahead and think on the spot, presentations, conversations and everyday interactions will come more and more easily. And the more you practice creativity in interpersonal communications, the more easily creativity will flow elsewhere. Creativity is a practice, not a virtue.