Ten top tips: effective verbal communication with colleagues

Many problems arise in schools and colleges each day, simply as a result of poor verbal communication.

The ten tips below are designed to help maximise the effectiveness of your verbal communications with colleagues.

1. Clarity

Be as clear and as specific as possible in all verbal communications and especially when you are asking someone to carry out a task for you.

2. Summarise

If you are not sure that people understand you, either summarise what you have said in different words, or ask them to summarise your message in their own words.

3. Observe responses

Observe response to your message. What people are thinking is not always expressed verbally. Read people’s thoughts by watching their facial expressions, hand and foot gestures. Look at their eyes for signs of confusion, disagreement, disbelief, resistance or understanding.

4. Background noise

If there is background noise, speak loudly or move to a quieter area.  Reinforce verbal communication, especially in noisy areas, with gestures.

5. Use of voice

To keep people’s attention, modulate your voice.  Speaking more loudly or softly, more quickly or slowly increases interest in what you say. Pause before and after a key point to allow it to fully register.

6. Eye contact

Maintain eye contact with those to whom you are talking. Bear in mind their cultural background. In some cultures, excessive eye contact is a sign of disrespect.

7. Undivided attention

Pay attention. Avoid interruptions. Don’t hold two conversations at the same time.

8. Emphasise important points

To communicate an important point, raise your voice slightly or speak deliberately. Let your body language reflect the importance of what you are saying by leaning forward, opening your eyes wider, and using appropriate hand gestures.

9. Positivity

Begin conversations positively. If there is potential for conflict, start off with something on which you both agree to set a positive atmosphere.

10. Choose your words

Avoid using ‘but’ to join sentences. ‘But’ puts people on the defensive. Use ‘and’ to join sentences, it is far more positive.  And where possible, use ‘I’ messages. Using ‘you’ makes people defensive.

For more help with communication skills in the school book onto one of our courses: 

Skills for School and College Frontline Office and Reception Staff

Managing Conflict and Dealing with Difficult People

Or search courses here.