When it comes having professional business attributes, people size you up not only on your appearance but on your on communication skills. This may not seem fair, but its life and it happens. When speaking to others do you find yourself saving “ahh”, “uhm”, “ya know”, “yup”, or things like “yes”, “pardon me”, “I’m with you”, “I understand”, or “great point”

Using “ahh” or “uhm” gives the impression you lack self-confidence and that you really don’t know what to say next. To stop using these fillers, start by paying close attention to your communication style. Slow down and think about what you’re going to say. Know that it’s alright to leave some dead air and that a short pause is better than using these common “distraction” words.

Secondly, write yourself a reminder note to correct your speech and place the note where you’ll see it often. Use this idea only for a week or so, because by this time your mind should be trained to catch these bad habits without additional help. Lastly, when you do catch yourself, replace the distraction word with a silence or more intelligent statement and make sure it sounds confident!  It may be annoying at first but this will get easier with time.  When was the last time you wrote someone an email and used “ahh” or “uhm”?  I would guess the answer is never and you don’t need to use them when speaking with people either.

In addition, when you write to people do you USE ALL CAPS TO SCREAM AT THEM or do you drive home your ideas with subtle and composed points?  Do you have good usage of punctuation marks or are you all over the place? Writing is a sensitive form of communication in which many things get lost in translation if you’re not careful. Using all capital letters not only is unprofessional, but can come off as being angry.

Practice good writing etiquette by following these simple writing tips:

• Keep it simple - Pick a few main points to stick with and don’t wander too far away from these topics. Writings, regardless of the type, should be kept brief and limit the amount of text you use.

•  Stay organized - Writing should be organized logically and easy to follow. If the writing is important, creating an outline will come in handy. Make sure your sentences flow and you aren’t all over the map.

• Ask yourself, who your audience is - Always keep in mind who you are writing for and what your intentions are. Feel free to write more casually when your audience is friends & family. When writing to prospects, business colleagues or customers it’s critical to be more professional. 

• Proofread - I can’t stress how important proofreading is to the writing process. Reread important documents a minimum of two to three times before sending them off. Missed errors make your work look sloppy, in turn reflecting poorly on you.

• Spell check – This is a key feature that all email programs have and you should use in creating all documents or communication.  On your email, go to settings and make it so your emails are spell checked before they are sent out.

Use these tips to sharpen your communication skills and going forward people will respect you and your abilities more than ever before.  Make it happen!

© 2008 eMarketing 4 Business LLC