Verbal Communication

What You Need to Know About This Soft Skill

Verbal communication
Sam Edwards / OJO Images / Getty Images

What is Verbal Communication?

Verbal communication is the sharing of information among individuals or groups through speaking. At work, it is one of the ways we interact with our bosses, employees, co-workers and customers or clients. We also use active listening, nonverbal communication such as body language and facial expressions, and writing to communicate with others.

When people do not verbally convey messages well, intended recipients of those messages are at risk for misunderstanding them.

They are likely to take improper actions in response. While these failures do not rest solely with the speakers—poor listening skills or the misreading of non-verbal cues may also be to blame—that is where it begins.

How to Improve Your Verbal Communication

Here are some things you can do before and during your conversation to avoid misunderstandings between you and the recipient of your message:

1. Be prepared: Figure out what information you want to provide and decide on the best way to relay it to your recipient.

2. Speak clearly: If you mumble or speak too quickly, it will be difficult for others to understand what you are saying.

3. Use language your recipient can easily comprehend: If you use words your recipient doesn't understand, your message will be lost.

4. Use proper tone:  Use your voice to show your feelings but be careful not to get too emotional. Doing that could distract from what you want him or her to take away from the conversation.

5. Make eye contact: It will be easier for the person to whom you are speaking to connect with you if you maintain eye contact while you are speaking, as well as when you are listening.

6. Check in with the listener to make sure he or she understands you: Get feedback from the person with whom you are speaking if you can.

You want to make sure he or she "gets" what you are trying to say. You can do this by observing facial expressions and body language, or by asking for confirmation.

7. Avoid distractions: Background noise will distract your listener and make it tough for him or her to hear what you are saying, never mind, understand it. Try to find a quiet place to talk. If you are speaking to someone by phone, go to a quiet area and make sure he or she is in one as well. If not, arrange to have a conversation at another time.

Careers That Require Excellent Verbal Communication Skills

Regardless of the career you choose, It is very likely you will have to speak to people. Therefore good verbal communication skills, as well as other communication skills, are critical. Some occupations, however, depend on this soft skill. Here are several that require excellent verbal communication skills:

  • Chief ExecutiveChief executives are in charge of the activities of the firms where they work. They must be able to share information with those inside and outside the organization, including other top level executives, employees, clients and shareholders.
  • School PrincipalPrincipals manage elementary and secondary schools. Good verbal communication skills help them interact with school faculty, parents and students.
  • Manager: Managers oversee the work of other employees of an organization. They must be able to provide feedback to their workers.
  • Operations Research Analyst: Using their expertise in mathematics, operation research analysts help businesses and other entities solve problems. Strong verbal communication skills allow them to work as a member of a team.
  • Medical ScientistMedical scientists research the causes of diseases and develop prevention and treatment methods based on their findings. They must be able to explain their results to colleagues.
  • Economist: Economists study the distribution of resources. They collaborate with clients and discuss their findings with them.   
  • Clinical or Counseling PsychologistClinical and counseling psychologists diagnose and treat individuals who have mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They spend their days talking to people.
  • Archaeologist Archaeologists examine study history and pre-history by examining evidence left behind by humans. They must explain their research findings to colleagues.
  • Marriage and Family TherapistMarriage and family therapists treat individuals, families and couples for mental disorders and interpersonal problems. They must be able to relay information to their clients.
  • TeacherTeachers instruct students in a variety of subjects. They explain concepts to students, collaborate with other teachers, and discuss students' progress with parents.
  • LibrarianLibrarians select and organize materials in public, school, academic, law and corporate libraries. They show library patrons how to use these resources.
  • DentistDentists examine and treat patients' teeth and gums. They collaborate with dental hygienists and assistants, as well as discuss procedures with their patients.
  • PharmacistPharmacists dispense prescription drugs to patients. They provide information and instructions to them so they can use these medications effectively and safely.
  • Marketing Manager: Marketing managers devise and implement companies' marketing strategies. They collaborate with members of marketing teams.
  • Software DeveloperSoftware developers oversee the creation of computer software. Strong verbal communication skills allow them to provide instruction to members of their teams.