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Review of our Effective Communication Skills Course in Time Out

(Time Out London Magazine, 18-25 February 2004)

Make friends and influence people

Why it's good to communicate - by Lisa Mullen

Liz Banks, a neat, friendly blonde, immediately proves what a good communicator she is when she sweeps into the room and introduces each member of the group by name, having met each person only once. Remembering people’s names is one of her top tips for successful meetings, but it takes the rest of us a lot longer to master the dynamics of the room and start to feel comfortable addressing each other. We’re a nervous group, each sent here (by employers with training budgets to spend, or by self-awareness that our presentation skills lack brio) with a mission to communicate, yet each initially silenced by sheer embarrassment. Although I’d worried all the way to Trafalgar Square that I was about to spend a day playing silly games. I found myself quite happily tossing juggling balls about while I got the measure of my fellow workshoppers.

Ice duly broken, we got down to business. Exercises on tone of voice, body language and conveying confidence all followed the same pattern: splitting up into pairs or small groups for role-play, then coming back together to discuss what we’d learned. By lunchtime, we were all noticeably more comfortable – but Banks soon put paid to that. “I’m going to take you out of your comfort zone,” she said ominously, before explaining that we each had to give a 90 second speech to the group. Excruciating. I managed to witter on for the allotted time, but my rabbit-in-head-lights-style immobility needs work….

Next came the most interesting bit for me: a discussion on verbal “styles”, which highlighted how some people think in terms of visual imagery, some in terms of sound, and some in terms of texture or emotion. Bank’s suggestion that, when trying to convince a big group of the merits of something, you should play to all three styles in order to sweep as many people along with you as possible, seemed very sensible.

It was a fun day out of the office, and a chance to meet some interesting people. The sandwiches were nice too.

Lisa Mullen

(Time Out London - 18 - 25 February 2004 - Page 24)

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