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Improving your speaking and listening skills

Women having a conversation in the office

Below are five things you can do every day to improve your speaking and listening skills.

Plan what you would like to say

Planning presentations or for meetings is important at work. Before an opportunity to speak you should prepare and plan what you would like to contribute.

  • Who is the audience?
  • Do you need to use formal or informal language?
  • Bullet point what you would like to say

You can do this in meetings too. It's a good idea to have a notebook so that you can make notes and use that as a prompt to share your ideas. You can write down scripts for when you're speaking on the phone as well.

Start small

Being a good public speaking is about confidence. This can be a challenge for everyone.

Encourage yourself to take smaller speaking opportunities, like sharing an idea in a team or staff meeting.

Use opportunities that you have outside work too, by speaking to family friends, shop workers or the barista in your local coffee shop. Seek out opportunities when you can practise speaking and listening skills.

Listen to podcasts

Listening to podcasts that interest you can be a great way to get ideas and learn new things. Try to write down three things you've learnt each episode.

  • Work Like a Woman by Mary Portas: This podcast explores how we can put kindness and compassion at the heart of business. Joined by guests including Bryony Gordon and Greggs CEO, Roger Whiteside, Portas explains how we all have the power to change the world of work.
  • Girlboss Radio with Sophie Amoruso: Each week, Girlboss CEO Sophie Amoruso sits down for a conversation with an inspirational woman, who shares their tips for building a successful career or building their own business. With interviews featuring Jameela Jamil and Emily Weiss, to name a few.
  • Power Hour: Adrienne Herbert's Power Hour is a motivational podcast to help you make the most of your time and find success. The podcasts include interviews with industry experts and change makers.
  • Make it Happen: Creative coach Jen Carrington provides amazing advice that will leave you feeling inspired and ready to kick start your career. Each podcast is around 5-10 minutes long and filled with top tips.
  • Squiggly Careers: Hosts Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper tackle the question "Want to have a happy career and love your job but not sure where to start?" Featuring top tips on how to kick start your dream job alongside interviews from inspirational leaders.

Listen to TV programmes and films

When you are watching TV, challenge yourself to really listen and make notes.

  • Tell someone three things that happened to you favourite character
  • Write down your favourite part and why
  • Write down or speak with someone about what you want to happen in the next episode or if there was a sequel to the film

Show that you are actively listening

Follow our five tips to show that you are actively listening.

  1. Be attentive
  2. Ask questions
  3. Ask for clarity if you do not understand
  4. Paraphrase what someone has said to you
  5. Think about your body language