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Coaching in oral communication

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I've been asked to devise and deliver a course aimed at improving oral communication (but specifically not in Presentation Skills); some members of my Client's workforce are very able but communicate badly at meetings and in day-to-day office life. I'm looking for resources / tips / techniques about how to approach this. Can anyone help with this, please?
Wendy Petty

7 Responses

  1. Communications exercises
    A couple of exercises come to mind – primarily to raise awareness of communications issues & then to integrate SMART actions for each subsequent exercise, and so on, etc.

    1) Blindfolded, standing shoulder to shoulder, each holding out their arms with index fingers extended. Facilitator then places bamboo cane on top of extended fingers. The challenge is for them as a group to lower the cane to the floor without dropping it…

    2) I’ve only done this outside, but without too much effort could be tweaked…. Split team into 4 groups & position a group at each corner of a building/outhouse/barn. Team 1 is given a drawing of 2 sets of canes, with pairs of canes joined 3/4’s way up with elastic bands, forming tee-pee structure. Piece of guttering then stretched across the 2, forming trough…. Team 1 needs to explain (without showing the picture) to team 2, who then explain to team 3, who then explain to team 4, who actually have to build thing…

    3) MTa International have a great game called ‘The Frame’. Team 1 has a small replica of a construction of plastic tubes, which they need to describe to Team 2, for them to replicate. I’ve modified MTa instructions, by allowing Team 1 examine Team 2’s progress after 3 minutes and modify their instructions…hence learn from the experience & not leave deflated if unsuccessful.

    Bit of a marathon – if any of interest I can probably do a better job of explaining them over the phone (01865) 422383. Cheers, Conall

  2. Coaching in oral communication
    Hi Wendy,

    I would suggest you analyse the issues that require addressing in the first instance. Conduct a TNA, to ascertain the training requirement and address appropriately. Depending on the size of your workforce and available budget, it may well be more cost effective (in the long term) to outsource this project.

    The common theme is communications, but this needs to be broken down into the various issues, as you have described. The best approach could be that of facilitation and role-play. However, if meetings are a cause for concern, it may be the deficit of other skills, obscured by a perceived lack of communication skills. Also, issues in the day-to-day communications could be relating to a cultural or management training requirement.

    It is paramount to source the real root of the problem before sourcing the perceived solution. You may be surprised at the can of worms that a TNA will produce!

    If you require any assistance or further explanations, feel free to contact me.

    Kind regards,

    Clive

  3. alternatively….
    you might consider a course on face-to-face selling as a rather different apprqaoch. I did this with someone in a similar position and she reported it very helpful and we noticed the difference too.

  4. Speechcraft Course
    Wendy

    Toastmasters International has developed a “Speechcraft” course which may be just what you’re looking for. These are normally conducted by local clubs – check out http://www.toastmasters.org

  5. The crux of the problem
    I agree with Clive about getting to the root of the problem. You might have to drill down to find out whether the problem is one of assertiveness, working styles, corporate culture or whatever. Be sure you know what the problem is before you proceed and if you think it is out of your league, you could always recommend them to invest in some Myers Briggs analysis or similar – admittedly a budgetary consideration. The TNA will be critical here so make sure you allow yourself enough time to plan it well.
    Role plays and discovery led learning are probably going to play a role.
    Good luck

  6. TA
    Lots of sensible stuff from other people, much of which I’m sure you’ve thought of.

    I immediately though of a tried and tested tool – Transactional Analysis. There are lots of creative ways you can get people to think about the messages they are sending. If you want any more thoughts on the subject drop me a line.

    Nigel Denning

  7. Communication – An issue of Co-operation or Competence?
    Hi Wendy

    I’m afraid I agree with others that there is a need to take care to treat the cause rather than the symptoms here. I would take time to discover whether it is a question of the will to communicate or whether it really is an issue of competence. If there is a possibility that people don’t communicate well because of a lack of trust then you will be off on the wrong track. On the other hand, if the will is there but they just haven’t sorted out how to have meetings that work then another course of action may be important. It may be that really listening to each other is the biggest issue. It may be that someone in the workplace is intimidating the process of confident connunication. There are plenty of exercises and models about communication but in my experience, problems thought to be related to’communication’ are never straightforward and usually end up being about relationships instead; after all communication covers just about everything we do as human beings whenever we get together! The main problem I see for you is the danger of delivering training that does not deliver what the client is really seeking.

    Good luck.

    Mark

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