Being a good communicator when meeting with superiors, colleagues and staff is essential. Engineers working in the digital age must be comfortable conveying and receiving messages via phone, email and social media, as well as in person. Good communication skills will help you get employed, get promoted and have a successful career.

1. Think about your audience

If you want to develop good communication skills, you will have to start with thinking about your audience. This is relevant in all forms of communication, be it written or in person. Before you start a dialogue with anyone, take a minute to think about who that person is. Consider who they are in relation to you and their level within or outside the company. How do they like to communicate? Is it with a lot of detail, or is it action-based? Would they prefer an email, a call, or a face-to-face brainstorm?
Who you are talking to matters. It is okay to use acronyms and informal language when you are communicating with a friend, but if you are messaging your boss avoid informal language. Good communicators target their message based on who they are speaking to, so try to keep the other person in mind when writing. 

2. Paraphrase the conversation, take notes and reread

Meetings and long-winded discussions can get out of hand or derailed from time to time, which can muddy the communication waters for those who are listening. Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout any dialogue until you’re sure that you’re clear about everything.
Identify important dates and actions in any conversation and write them down. Read back over them to make sure you understand what you’ve written.  After a conversation, either clarify the main points with the person or try to paraphrase it yourself. If you struggle with this, you may need some clarification. This is one of main weapons against miscommunication and will improve your communication skills exponentially. 
Good communication goes both ways, so it’s essential that you read over anything you send to anyone, make sure you’re clear and concise before hitting send and keep an eye on spelling and grammar.

3. Listen

Listening is the most difficult and important element to improving your communication skills. Being self-aware about your listening skills is the first step to making them better.
People want to know that they are being heard. Really listen to what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. At that moment, the person speaking to you should be the most important person in your life. Another important point is to have one conversation at a time. If you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email, or send a text at the same time, because the other person will know that they don’t have your undivided attention

4. Work on how you present yourself

Body language is key when focusing on improving your communication skills and is vital for face-to-face meetings and video calls. Make sure that you appear accessible by having open body language, by not crossing your arms while also ensuring you maintain eye contact so that the other person knows you’re paying attention.

5. Master the art of networking

The ability to network well is central to developing great commination skills. It is an art form and once you learn to walk into an event and network confidentially and effectively, you’ll promptly find yourself furlongs ahead in your industry. 

6. Practise public speaking and hone your presentation skilling

If you practise and master the art of communicating to a large crowd of people, your day-to-day interactions at work will be a breeze. Giving a great presentation sometimes means ditching copious amounts of notes and a lengthy PowerPoint and simply trusting your mastery of the subject matter.
Most of us are nervous before a presentation, whether the audience is three people or 300. Concrete strategies for effectively overcoming discomfort include discussing anxieties with a trusted colleague, practicing breathing exercises, and visualizing successful outcomes. 
Be an expert in your material and learn to trust that you have mastery over your talking points. Visual aids are frequently used as a presentation crutch rather than a complement. focus more on your delivery and less on simply walking an audience through a slide deck. Truly effective speeches start with the speaker, not the slides. 
Most audience members digest about 30 percent of the material presented to them. Good talks aren't about information transfer; that can be accomplished in an email. Rather, they are about identifying and successfully eliciting a specific response from the audience. 
Finally, by incorporating an interesting personal story into her presentation, you can easily connect with the audience. We all like to hear stories. We can often relate to them, and the fact is, they're more interesting than recitations of data. 

7. Be brief, yet specific and sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone. 

Great communication means being brief yet specific enough that you provide sufficient information for the other person to understand what you are trying to say. If responding to an email, make sure that you read the entire message before crafting your response. With enough practice, you will learn not to ramble, or give way too much information.
If you find that you have a lot to say, instead of sending an email, call the person. Email is great, but sometimes it is easier to communicate what you have to say verbally.

Engineers Ireland provides eLearning courses for our members who wish to log their CPD or up-skill