Verbal and written communication skills are critical to success in the workplace. Lucky for us internal communication professionals, we’re already ahead of the curve. But in this blog, we’ll talk about how you can continue to hone your skills as a communicator and what skills are essential to your role.
Let’s dive in!
What is Verbal and Written Communication?
Verbal communication is how we convey meaning with our words. This also includes nonverbal cues, like our tone of voice, expression, volume, how we use our hands to add meaning, and even our body language. With verbal communication, there are many more ways to add nuance to our message. For instance, we can much more easily convey sarcasm or humor with the inflection and tone of our voices.
Written communication is putting our words down onto paper to share them in some form. For many businesses, this is the main way you communicate with your employees. It’s your emails, newsletters, intranet content, app posts, sms texts, and more.
And that’s why written communication is so important. We have to be impeccable with our written word to make the right impact.
What Are Examples of Verbal and Written Communication in the Workplace?
Examples of verbal communication in the workplace include:
- Team meetings. Verbal communication plays a significant role in workplace meetings where employees and managers gather to discuss ideas, provide updates, make decisions, and address issues. This can involve face-to-face interactions, conference calls, or video conferences.
- Presentations. Verbal communication is crucial during presentations when individuals share information, reports, or proposals with colleagues or clients.
- C-Suite video communications. Verbal communication doesn’t have to be in person. It can also be recorded in videos and podcasts and shared via distribution channels.
Examples of written communication in the workplace are:
- Emails. Written communication through email is one of the most common forms of workplace communication.
- Memos or internal messages. Companies often use written memos or internal messages to communicate important announcements, policy changes, or updates to employees.
- Reports. Written reports are frequently used in the workplace to communicate findings, analysis, and recommendations.
Why Internal Comms Pros Should Hone Their Verbal and Written Communication Skills
Although internal comms professionals are all naturally gifted in the art of communication, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to hone our skills. And, more importantly, master them to be better coaches to our executive teams and managers.
For verbal communication, honing our skills isn’t just helpful for when we deliver internal comms ourselves. It’s also key for:
- Budget negotiations
- Sharing the story in our data to show off our brilliance (or explain our missteps)
- Building relationships with key stakeholders and leaders
And focusing on continuously improving our written communication is key for:
- Effectively communicating messages in ways our people understand
- Writing more engaging and motivating copy
What Verbal and Written Communication Skills Do You Need?
There are countless skills you could focus on, but which ones are going to make the biggest difference? Which ones are non-negotiable?
Let’s break down the top skills for both verbal and written communication.
Top 5 Verbal Communication Skills:
- Active listening. This is the ability to listen attentively and use that information to actively modify what you say and how you say it. Too often, people are very focused on what they are going to say next that they aren’t fully present or really listening to other people. Active listening is all about slowing down and being more present.
- Empathy. This skill is all about understanding the people we’re talking to and taking their needs and preferences into account.
- Clarity. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? This can include your articulation of words, which is your clear and precise pronunciation, but it’s even more about how you precisely express a thought without ambiguity. Clarity involves organizing thoughts logically, using appropriate vocabulary, structuring sentences effectively, and ensuring that your message is coherent. Clarity also considers factors like avoiding jargon, using concise language, and adapting your communication style to the audience so it makes sense to them.
- Confidence. This is about expressing oneself with assurance, poise, and self-assuredness. Confidence in communication helps captivate the audience’s attention, establishes credibility, and instills trust in the speaker. It involves maintaining steady eye contact, using a clear and assertive tone of voice, and projecting a sense of self-confidence in one’s words and delivery.
- Adaptability. This is the ability to adjust and modify one’s communication style and approach based on the needs and preferences of the listener or the specific communication context. It involves being attentive to verbal and nonverbal cues from the audience so you can adapt. Being adaptable allows for better rapport, understanding, and connection with others, as it demonstrates a willingness to meet them where they are.
Top 5 Written Communication Skills:
- Grammar. Using proper grammar helps to ensure understanding. But I don’t believe in being so stuffy and formal that no one wants to read what you’ve said. It’s about finding a balance. I studied poetry in college and a wise instructor taught us that you have to understand the rules before you can break them, and you can only break them if it serves a purpose.
- Tone and style. Anyone can learn to write correctly (skill #1). But not everyone is great at adapting their tone and style to fit the medium or who the message is coming from. As an internal comms pro, you often have to emulate the voice of other people—like your C-Suite. So this is a big skill to focus on and is often a hard one to master.
- Proofreading. This is the ability to find errors in writing.
- Editing. Some people lump proofreading and editing into one bucket, but I think there’s an important distinction between them. Editing is more about high-level revision. Can you discern what’s missing? What is unnecessary? How should pieces be moved around to improve understanding or the emotional impact of the piece? Editing isn’t proofing, so focus on both talents!
- Research and information gathering. An often overlooked part of writing is all the work that goes into learning the information you need for the piece of writing. As a comms pro, that might involve seeking out multiple stakeholders or historic communications. During college, when I was a writing tutor, one of the important lessons we learned was that reading is just as important as writing. Being a good researcher and active reader is just as important as the writing part because it forms the foundation for whatever you’re creating.
How to Become Better at Verbal Communication
You’ve probably heard that the vast majority of communication is nonverbal—93 percent, in fact. So, when we talk about mastering the art and science of verbal communication, we have to consider far more than just the words we use.
Because so much of how we’re understood isn’t about the words we use, the best way to improve your verbal communication skills is to focus on these nonverbal elements, especially ones you might be less aware of (e.g. posture).
- It all starts with active listening. You can’t communicate effectively without understanding your audience. And that includes knowing when to be quiet and knowing when to ask the right questions. Too often, we might make assumptions about who we’re talking to or not clarify our understanding before responding. It’s important to slow down and pay attention.
- Ask for feedback. One of the best ways to improve your verbal comms skills is to ask someone you trust. Find someone that you think is a great verbal communicator and seek their expertise. This can be a little uncomfortable, but growth happens when we step outside of our comfort zones.
- Practice! I know that public speaking is one of the top fears that people have, but it’s important to practice to get over those nerves.
How to Become Better at Written Communication
You didn’t get the role you’re in without already being a decent writer. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to hone our craft. These tips can help you improve, even if you’re already a skilled writer.
- Get a second opinion. Just like with your verbal communication, it can be very helpful to have someone else read your work. This can be especially helpful for complex or technical writing that has to make sense for your employees.
- Master storytelling. You can be a great writer and communicator but not a good storyteller. But studies have shown that using storytelling for internal comms can be a great way to engage and build culture. So, make sure you take time to focus on how you can incorporate storytelling techniques into your writing.
- Enhance your persuasive writing skills. One of the most important parts of your role is getting employees to take certain actions. Focusing on persuasive writing techniques might help make you more effective.
- Learn how to use AI. AI is the future of writing, but it’s most powerful when a good writer teams up with it. Spend some time learning how to use AI to improve your writing and speed up your processes.
Embrace Your Communication Superpowers!
As an internal communication professional, your superpower is your ability to communicate effectively in a variety of ways.
So, whatever brought you to this blog, I hope you found a few kernels of wisdom and things to focus on. Whether you’re just looking for a gut check that you’re doing all the right things, or if you’re trying to build your confidence negotiating budget with the C-Suite, we hope you’ve gotten something out of this.
About the Author
Sydney Lauro is the Demand Generation Manager for theEMPLOYEEapp. Prior to joining the team at theEMPLOYEEapp, Sydney worked in internal communications for Chipotle Mexican Grill. She uses her internal comms expertise and passion for improving communication and the employee experience to create content and share best practices to help other communications professionals.
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