Guide to Verbal Communication Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 26, 2021

Verbal skills are part of the most important skills every person requires to carry on with their daily career activities. With meetings, presentations, code reviews, conferences, and networking events, it has become necessary to have effective verbal communication skills. These skills could be the difference between securing a client or losing one, selling a product or struggling with growth and getting a promotion, or moving laterally. In this article, we define verbal skills, give examples of common verbal skills, and help you discover ways to improve your oral skills.

What are verbal communication skills?

Verbal communication skills help you use words to pass information to those around you, especially through talking. This may include using full sentences or making sounds like sighs and gasps. Verbal skills are more visible during interpersonal exchanges and public speaking. Interpersonal interactions involve people communicating with one another via phone calls or physical meetings. Public speaking involves talking to a larger group.

The term verbal communication skills may also refer to written communications, but it is primarily used when describing communicating through speech. Verbal communication is distinct since it majors on one's choice of words and how they are received and interpreted by the opposite party.

Related: Four Types of Communication (With Examples)

Using verbal communication skills at work

At work, you may use verbal communication for the following purposes:

  • Greetings: You can use verbal communication to greet everyone at the office, like your supervisor and colleagues.

  • Onboarding of new employees: You can use verbal communication when training a new employee to welcome them to the office, introduce them to the team and inform them about office protocol and operations.

  • Presentations: You can use verbal communication to present new ideas, reports, and data to fellow employees, investors, or clients during face to face meetings

  • Asking for assistance: In case you run into a challenge while working on a project or task, verbal skills will help you ask for assistance from colleagues or supervisors who you know might be able to offer great input.

  • Talking with clients or customers: Employees use verbal communication skills to speak to clients and customers to follow up, market new products and services, or request payment. You can also use verbal communication skills to offer customer support service when needed.

  • Asking for time off: Verbal communication can be used to request time off work when you speak to your manager directly.

  • Negotiating: When you need a salary increase or while negotiating for a contract or even when you represent your company in a meeting, verbal skills will help you state your case well and interact effectively with other people to produce necessary positive results.

Related: What is Interpersonal Communication and How Can You Use It In The Workplace

Careers that require excellent verbal communication skills

Some careers require excellent verbal skills since they involve much verbal communication. However, it is essential to understand that almost all jobs have an aspect of verbal communication. Read the required skills section in job descriptions to know how much the job relies on verbal communication. Here is a list of some careers which need employees to be extra proficient in verbal communication:

  • Customer service representatives

  • Doctors

  • Clinical psychologists

  • Public relations specialists

  • Lawyers

  • Market research analysts

  • Medical assistants

  • Nurses

  • Occupational therapists

  • Pharmacists

  • Social workers

  • Recruiters

  • Teachers

  • Physical therapists

  • Training and development specialists

  • School counsellors

  • Press Secretaries

  • Financial advisers

  • Human services assistants

  • Radiologic technologists and technicians

  • Sales representatives

  • Counselling psychologists

  • Journalists

  • TV Presenters

  • Personal Assistants (PAs)

  • Receptionists

Tips to improve on your verbal communication skills

It is possible to improve your verbal skills. This will take time but is rewarding once you get to see the results. To improve on your verbal communication skills:

Listen actively

Active listening is when you listen with the goal of understanding and not just responding. In most situations, people tend to listen while formulating a response instead of listening first to understand what the speaker is trying to say. To listen actively, pay attention to the speaker's words and body language, show the speaker that you are interested in what they are saying, clarify your understanding, avoid interrupting or redirecting the conversation, and eventually provide a response.

Understand, use and interpret non-verbal cues, body language, and posture well

Appearing relaxed during conversations and presentations will help you exert necessary dominance and authority. Avoid hunched shoulders, looking down, or crossing your legs. Be quick to notice when those listening are dozing off, lose concentration or distract themselves. This could mean that no one is listening to you or people have lost interest in what you are saying. Use verbal skills to bring their thoughts back to your presentation.

Take the audience into perspective

It's vital to consider the type of audience you are dealing with whenever you are talking. Take into account factors such as age, seniority, and your audience's familiarity as you speak. This will help you decide which tone to use, which language, how to behave, and which body language to avoid. For example, a well-known and close client may expect a more friendly tone than a first-time client. Your supervisor may expect a balance between an informal and formal style.

Additional tips include:

  • Practice frequently. Practice will help you retain the information you get from studying verbal skills. It also increases the ability to apply knowledge automatically without first having to think. While practicing, you get to receive feedback that will help you gauge your progress.

  • Undertake training. You could hire a communication skills coach, enroll at a college for a communication skills programme, read books or watch videos to improve your communication skills.

  • Think before speaking. By thinking of what to say, you will eliminate unnecessary pauses and unnecessary information while communicating. Organizing your thoughts helps you appear more concise and efficient, especially when presenting or pitching.

  • Be clear and concise: Speaking clearly and concisely involves regulating your breathing patterns, talking speed, and pronunciation. This will help you pass on your message more clearly. Consolidate what you are saying to its core meaning.

Related: 11 Examples of Effective Probing Questions to Improve Your Communication Skills

What are the benefits of excellent verbal skills?

Having efficient communication skills is beneficial since they are applicable in most areas of life. The benefits they offer include:

  • Keeps clients coming back: Clients are drawn to businesses that have excellent customer service. A crucial component of customer service involves speaking to clients. With excellent verbal skills, customers feel at ease transacting with you and buying your products and services.

  • Helps you communicate with your fellow employees and seniors well: Verbal skills help you know how to communicate and keep a professional balance in the workplace to achieve respect while building a strong team spirit.

  • Ensures success in the workplace: While talking to clients, speaking during meetings and presentations, giving feedback, requesting information from your colleagues, or during a work event, verbal skills may come in handy to boost your agenda.

  • Verbal skills build your confidence: Speaking in front of a public gathering or presenting a report in front of investors and colleagues requires strong confidence. Having good verbal skills assures you that you will perform well, which boosts your self-confidence.

  • Helps you secure a new job: This can occur during an interview or a career-related event such as a career fair. Verbal skills help you answer and ask questions during interviews which will help you secure the job.

  • Helps you build and maintain your network: During social or formal events, conferences, and training workshops, it is wise to grow your network. Having the necessary verbal skills will help you interact with people, ask for contacts and follow up after the events.

  • Make advances in your career: Promotions are usually offered to exceptionally productive employees. To be productive, you need verbal skills. Furthermore, during interviews for promotions, it is essential to use your speaking skills to explain to the management why you're the best person for the job.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Characteristics of an effective communicator

The following characteristics will help you gauge whether you communicate effectively:

  • Shows patience

  • The adaptability of your verbal skills

  • Confidence and assertiveness

  • Simplifying complex concepts, problems, and solutions

  • Giving and receiving constructive feedback

  • Interpreting different body languages

  • Storytelling

  • Showing great emotional intelligence

  • Actively listening

  • Showing empathy

  • Being open-minded

  • Displaying clarity

Related: 12 Employability Skills and How to Develop Them

How to highlight your verbal communication skills

Highlighting your verbal skills during the hiring process may help you secure the job. To show that you possess excellent verbal communication skills:

  • Craft a well-written resume and cover letter. Verbal skills also include putting your thoughts into written words. Hiring managers may quickly pick up an excellent communicator while assessing your application.

  • Use verbal skills during interviews. Use your verbal skills to ask and respond during interviews. Tell a story that may exhibit your use of verbal skills and how the skills helped you succeed at that time.

  • List your verbal skills in the resume and cover letters. A more obvious way is to list your skills as part of your list in the resume and cover letters.

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