Last week, Jen Brown came back to Winston Starts as a guest facilitator to educate us on how to communicate with others effectively inside or outside the workplace. As the founder of The Engaging Educator and Fearless Winston-Salem, she has helped over 50,000 people find their unapologetic, authentic, and best voice – and she did just that during her talk on Tuesday.
Her upbeat personality grabbed the attention of the room as she walked the group through 4 key exercises to strengthen our conversational flexibility skills. These activities are “workouts” for our communication and processing skills, ones that take practice, but can be utilized every day of your life! If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of Jen’s workshops, you are missing out! Here are 4 tips of advice we learned from her in just one hour!
1. “You get the energy you give out”.
Listen to the conversation you are having with another person, and take a step back to think of your response before you answer your question! You think it’s easy, but we’re so used to automatically responding to generic questions that we end up repeating ourselves and sound robotic! Conversations with people in our daily lives are just like Improv, it’s not rehearsed. Listen to your environment and take in the surrounding stimuli, then respond back!
2. Sometimes “word vomit” is a good thing!
Say whatever comes to mind and allow your real self to shine through! We always want to show our best selves to others, but at times this fails and you look rigid, uninterested or bored. According to Jen, the more the person you are talking to feels like you are genuine and engaged, the more you will get out of the conversation (see #1 if you already forgot). Bottom line, it’s okay to not be perfect 100% of the time!
3. Body language and eye contact with audience members are HUGE in how they perceive your confidence.
A classic example that Jen brought up was how speakers can find comfort in the “safety net” audience member they glue their eyes on for the entire speech, accidentally ignoring the rest of the crowd. Instead, working on being more comfortable with the information you’re projecting and sharing to the audience will help you feel more open, even to new faces, and will help you look and feel more relaxed!
4. “Words are currency, we only have so much time”.
Men and women today are getting busier and busier with the help of constant communication through email, calls, texting, you name it. When talking to someone, don’t beat around the bush, ask what you want to know, then enjoy the rest of the conversation once you’ve gotten the answer to your question. By having a purpose when talking to someone, you save not only their time, but yours too!
All of these tips seem simple, but Jen’s exercises highlighted our need to exercise our “soft skills”, and that it’s okay if we don’t have it all figured out! Improving your communication skills in and out of the office can do wonders for how you connect with others and achieve more with the limited time you have to spare, you just have to practice!
A big thank you to Jen for coming to Winston Starts and sharing her passion and expertise with our incredible audience, we had a blast getting involved in your impromptu exercises, and we hope you will come back again soon!
Looking to learn more about using improv to help propel your communication skills forward? You can now preorder Jen Brown’s latest book on Amazon, Think on Your Feet: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Impromptu Communication Skills on the Job, to learn more tips and tricks to improve your impromptu communication skills wherever you are.
You can also visit her website, the Engaging Educator, to schedule a class – you won’t regret it!