Why Your Career Communication needs a Professional Development Plan
Learn how to build your personalised professional development plan so you can uplevel your communication at work.
If you want to polish your professional communication skills or build up your team’s speaking skills, you’ve come to the right place. Today we’ll uncover how a professional development plan can prevent speaking plateaus, enhance confidence and enable advanced professional opportunities.
No matter our personality, we can all learn to communicate effectively.
Unfortunately, many misconceptions tend to connect personality styles and temperaments with increased speaking success. For example, the idea that extroverts naturally excel at public speaking or that verbally gifted team members will excel in leadership positions.
I want you to scratch out whatever you believe about the temperament and personality styles that enable effective interactions and consider a new approach to evaluating successful speaking! Because every person can master effective communication if given the opportunity to develop.
So whatever it is that brought you to this post, feel encouraged that communication skills can improve; all it takes is building a personalised professional development plan for communication.
This blog post is best digested in 3 parts:
- Check the professional development plan tips (below)
- Watch the vlog
- If you want to enhance your career communication to sound and feel more confident, enrol in my High-Performance Communication Audit, which will help you discover exactly what your professional speaking needs.
How a Professional Development Plan for Communication Helps You Gain Confidence
In my work as a communication consultant for executives and emerging leaders, I often meet people that feel incredibly demoralised with their communication skills. Perhaps they struggle to present their ideas with full conviction when speaking under pressure, or maybe they’re self-conscious about mumbling, speaking too fast or being reluctant to deal with workplace conflicts.
Usually, there’s a specific barrier that my client faces that is getting in the way and clogging up their ability to either progress professionally or feel more relaxed interacting at work. But here’s where it gets challenging. Identifying what your speaking needs by yourself is risky, and diagnosing as a leader what your team members need to improve their professional polish is also fraught with error. Because there are numerous skills required for effective communication and interactions, the ability to take an accurate inventory of your interaction skills should rest with an expert qualified to assess, evaluate and train professional communication skills.
Communication growth goals need to be evidence-based, not opinion based. The most effective professional development plans for communication are those built by career communication specialists with expertise in assessing core competencies such as speech pace, voice tone, logical structure, executive presence and emotional intelligence.
Receiving an expert appraisal of your speaking skills is a decisive step in the right direction for communication growth because it will allow you to sharpen your focus on the core skills that need improvement rather than floundering and wondering what it is your professional speaking needs. Don’t leave it to your friends, family, colleagues or boss to tell you what it is that your professional speaking needs- employing an expert to undertake a comprehensive analysis of your communication will be more productive and affirming.
If you’d like to receive a thorough career communication diagnostic for yourself or your team to enhance speaking comfort, confidence, personal or organisational growth. Learn more about my corporate communication services here.
What a Professional Development Plan for Communication Should Include
Maybe you’re curious about what niche skills can benefit career communication.
According to the research into professional communication competence, there are five core areas to pay attention to when it comes to professional speaking skills.
1) Speaking Self Regulation Skills
Competent communicators can self-regulate and deliver poised responses no matter the context, conversation partner or work environment pressures that threaten to crush them.
A core part of my communication assessment process considers a detailed assessment of speaking comfort to diagnose the key areas the speaker needs to enhance self-regulation.
Problems with regulating speaking delivery and message when faced with conflict, anxiety-inducing discussions or difficult people present a severe risk to personal impression management for the individual and brand credibility for the organisation.
Behaviours that can indicate the need for speaking self regulation skills:
- Rapid or delayed speaking speeds
- Hesitations and frequent use of fillers
- Insecure body language, avoiding eye contact, poor posture
- Breathy or croaky voice tone
- Difficulty organising thoughts and presenting a concise and logical message under pressure
- Explosive outbursts, awkward responses, self-deprecating remarks
- Communication participation impacts- speaking up less than required in meetings, poor boundary setting with stakeholders, avoiding public speaking opportunities.
📣 Do you or your team need to increase their self-regulation skills when speaking?
The High-Performance Communication Audit includes detailed assessment of speaking comfort and will assist in setting practical goals to improve speaking self-regulation to secure a consistent and confident speaking style.
When it comes to your communication, there is no one size fits all answer.
This is why I have developed The High-Performance Communication Audit, where I will prescribe exactly what your communication needs right now.
2) Logical Message Presentation Skills
Competent communicators can present concise and succinct messages that keep their listeners engaged. However, the ability to deliver information clearly to your listener when speaking under pressure is an advanced skill for which most people need targeted practice.
Problems with logical flow while speaking tend to reduce speaker credibility, charisma and leadership presence. If team members across your organisation are not able to consistently communicate across core topics with clarity, you’ll notice decreased efficiency in project tasks, reduced customer satisfaction and loyalty and possibly even increased conflict due to unclear directives.
Behaviours that can indicate the need for logical message presentation skills:
- Tangents, off-topic comments
- Unclear, ambiguous responses
- Difficulties providing sufficient information
- Inability to explain concepts, topics and rationales with the required degree of detail
- Inefficient meetings
- Hesitations, fillers and word-finding difficulties
- Poor answers to impromptu questions
- Weak storytelling skills
- Dull, repetitive vocabulary
📣 Do you or your team need to increase their logical message presentation skills when speaking?
Message credibility will be affected if it’s challenging to incorporate vital details with a solid structure when speaking. Numerous solutions are available to build up speaking logic so that topics are presented eloquently, even when speaking under pressure.
Logical flow is crucial to pique listeners’ positive emotions, trust and curiosity.
If you have concerns about your capacity to order and present your insights effectively or, as a leader, notice that your team lack the logical precision needed to benefit their interactions at work, I have many resources and science-backed tactics that can assist. Get in touch for more info on how to expand logical message presentation skills!
3) Emotional Intelligence Skills
Our communication always has an impact on others around us. Best practice indicates that all leaders should actively work on building up their emotional intelligence skills and investing in social intelligence development across their team.
Don’t omit emotional intelligence goals if you’re seeking a professional development plan for your communication.
Behaviours that can indicate the need for emotional intelligence skills include:
- Messages that lack persuasive impact and influence
- Difficulty with conflict management
- Challenges with optimising the employee or customer experience
- Failure to set boundaries around workflow and workload
- Ineffective assertiveness, rapport building and diplomacy
- Avoidance of challenging topics and conversations
- Reduced team unity and vision across an organisation
- Difficulties discussing social-emotional topics necessary for building relationships and trust
- Interpersonal tension or conflict with stakeholders and team members
- Problems saying no with self-assurance
📣 Do you or your team need to increase their emotional intelligence skills when speaking?
Emotional intelligence is not solely personality based. Instead, it is a set of trainable skills that all employees, leaders and managers should incorporate into a professional development plan for their communication.
A key ingredient of effective leadership communication is the capacity to focus on your team member’s perspectives, engagement and motivators, which requires increased social intelligence. If you’re a leader and find yourself facing challenges with leading your team, providing critical feedback to employees or executing directives in a way that gets employee buy-in, you need to work on your emotional intelligence.
4) Voice Tone Skills
Optimal voice tone is the nucleus of confident delivery. If you’re striving to present ideas in a credible and motivating way and haven’t considered whether your voice is working correctly, you need to add voice tone improvement goals to your professional development plan. You wouldn’t drive your car without petrol, so why share an important message without the vocal power it needs for velocity?
Behaviours that can indicate the need for voice skills include:
- Difficulties projecting the voice
- Trailing off vocally when delivering firm statements
- Speaking with increased breath noise (for example, your listener can hear your inhalation and exhalation)
- Frequent use of monotone
- Reduced vocal expression for important messages and conversations
- Increased vocal tiredness after prolonged voice use
- The feeling that no one takes your ideas seriously or listens to what you have to say
- Increased risk of being interrupted, spoken over or overlooked in team meetings
📣 Do you or your team need to increase their voice tone skills when speaking?
The voice is a muscle that fails to calibrate optimally without correct training. Beyond that, listener impressions form firmly based on our voice tone. Speakers with inconsistent tone lose out on executive presence, credibility and charisma (Antonakis, 2011; Guyer et al., 2021). If you’re ambitious about your career, you’ll be wise to incorporate voice training and confident speech intonation training into your professional development plan.
5) Tactical Charisma Skills
Charisma is an amplifying leadership trait that better situates you for effective company direction and team engagement. Extensive studies prove that charismatic communicators garner influence, venture capital, trust and credibility faster and outdo others in gaining and retaining management positions (Davis et al., 2017).
Behaviours that can indicate the need for increased charisma include:
- Decreased leadership influence in the workplace
- Difficulties with public speaking
- Increased performance anxiety that reduces your message effectiveness for critical conversations
- Reduced executive presence and associated difficulties obtaining a leadership position despite your expertise and experience
- Low sales conversions and difficulties securing client relationships and standing out in the competitive market as an expert
- Friction from team members when striving to endear them to the company vision
- Challenges with change management conversations
📣 Do you or your team need to increase their charisma when speaking?
Teams led by charismatic leaders thrive in terms of productivity, job satisfaction and morale (Michalsky, 2019). Fortunately, charisma is not a skill handed out at birth, with recent research confirming that there are 16 concrete behaviours, each of which can be trained, to increase a speaker’s charisma. Investing in tactical charisma training will increase leadership ease and add an agile edge to your working relationships if you’re leading a team. Are you leading a team of client-facing employees? Tactical charisma training is critical to incorporate into a professional development plan for team communication, especially since charisma is proven to increase sales conversions among sales professionals and venture capital bids by founders.
📣 Are you team struggling to communicate successfully with clients, stakeholders or even each other?
Build emotional intelligence and professional polish in your workplace and book me for a communication workshop.
Antonakis, J. (2011). Predictors of leadership: The usual suspects and the suspect traits: 269-285.
Guyer, J. J., et al. (2021). “Paralinguistic Features Communicated through Voice can Affect Appraisals of Confidence and Evaluative Judgments.” Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.
Men, L. R. (2021). “The impact of startup CEO communication on employee relational and behavioral outcomes: Responsiveness, assertiveness, and authenticity.” Public Relations Review 47(4): 102078.
About the Author
Sara Geiger is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact.
Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She’s currently completing a PhD in Opera Performance.
Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.
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