This is a guest post from our Intern Queen Campus Ambassador Marysa Miller from California State University.
Being able to communicate well is an extremely important aspect of life. Having the ability to speak well in a society that is run by facebook chat, tweets, and text messages is rare! Seriously, when was the last time you actually met up with a friend and spoke over coffee instead of texting back and forth all day?! It just doesn’t happen. Being able to speak well will give an intern a HUGE advantage in the work force. It will instantly set you apart from those who are lacking in communication skills. What employer wouldn’t want an intern who could speak clearly, confidently and knowledgably? Being able to speak well does not come natural to all, but is a quality that should be developed for guaranteed success. Here are my three tips on how to enhance your communication skills:
- Practice makes perfect. You’ve heard it since you were five, and you know that there’s no such thing as perfect. But you can get pretty close! If you get nervous before public speaking or even one-on-one conversation, practice speaking. You are a smart cookie, you know what kinds of questions are going to be asked in an interview! Practice your answers to different questions out loud. You will become more comfortable speaking about them and in turn sound more confident as a speaker. When speaking in front of a group, speak slowly. One sign of nervousness is when a speaker rushes. Days before your presentation practice your speech in a mirror or better yet, record yourself on your web-cam. I have tons of speeches recorded on my photobooth from my public speaking class my freshman year of college! It sounds cheesy, your roommates might think you’re crazy, but it is extremely helpful to go back and listen to the speech as well as judge your tone and speed.
- Speak clearly and sound professional. Don’t use words you can’t pronounce. If you don’t know what a word means, don’t use it. Those old SAT vocab words you used to study should stay in the back of your memory unless you remember the definition to every single one of them. The conversation could get awkward or embarrassing. Along with the first tip, don’t speak too fast. You want your listener to hear you, not try and play catch up as you’re are speaking to them. Always make sure to articulate and pause when needed. You will learn over time that there are natural times to pause in a speech or conversation and those pauses make you sound very smart. Another nervous habit most people have is saying, “um.” It gets annoying and it makes you sound like you aren’t prepared! I once heard somewhere that if you can get yourself into the habit of saying, “now” instead of “um” it will make a world of difference in your speaking. It sounds intelligent and professional.
- Be confident. Tell yourself that you are a great public speaker! You have practiced, you have gotten rid of your “um’s”, and you have on the perfect outfit. Now it is just time to believe in yourself. If you are confident, others around you can see it and similarly, if you aren’t confident, it will show just as much. Think of yourself as the employer interviewing college students for your internship. How would you want them to speak? Imagine them on the phone, dealing with media or executives of a company. Last thing you want to hear out of their mouth is slang or awkward conversation. If you can learn to love speaking, you will do well. Love what you are speaking about and you will do even better! Good luck!