“Every speaker has a mouth, an arrangement rather neat.  Sometimes that mouth is filed with wisdom, sometimes it’s filled with feet.”  That’s a humorous quote by Robert Orben.  And it is so true.   Haven’t we all at one point or another managed to put our foot in our mouths?


Effective communication is an art and a skill.   For those of us so inclined, we gradually learn to master the art of communication so that we can become more powerful, more purposeful, and equally important, more patient in our communication skills.


Power, purpose, patience.  These are essential qualities of a truly effective communicator.


To have the ability to speak with power starts with confidence.  That’s having full knowledge of your content, having complete clarity in your message.  Having the courage to unabashedly speak your truth.  And to speak authentically from the passion of your heart.  We’ve all heard powerful speakers throughout our lives.  They’re amazing, mesmerizing, highly motivating.  They have the ability to reach our inner core by the sheer strength and conviction of their speaking style.  Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill…to name just a few… and there are so many more.  These are leaders who have mastered the art of effective communication.  For them, it’s not just a skill, it’s not just a gift, it’s a super-power.


Another key quality of an effective communicator is the ability to speak with purpose.   Oliver Wendell Holmes says this, “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall”.  It’s important to not only know what you need to say, but how you need to say it.  How will your audience feel when you release those salient words from your mouth?  You’ve heard it said before, “A person may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel”.  When we speak, we should do so in a way that builds, heals, and unites, not in a way that diminishes, hurts, or divides.  When you’re giving a speech, what are you trying to accomplish?  Are you trying to persuade someone?  To convert someone?  To compel someone towards a particular action?  Speaking with a clear purpose in mind enables you to accomplish your specific goal.


A third important trait of an effective communicator is patience.  This is huge.  This means we need to step back and take the time to understand our own predominant communication style and yet adapt our communication style to the needs of our audience.  This takes time, effort, and commitment.  But it is immensely essential if we are to be effective communicators.


According to Toastmasters International, a global non-profit educational organization designed to help people master their communication skills, there are four specific communication styles.

  • Supportive:  Accommodating, sympathetic, a good listener 
  • Analytical:  Precise, structured, disciplined 
  • Initiating:  Sociable, Lively, Spontaneous 
  • Direct:  Results-oriented, focused, reserved 


One style is no better than the other.  Most of us carry a bit of each of these traits.  A successful communicator knows his or her dominant trait and knows how to achieve the right balance for the right audience.


As James Humes says, the art of communication is the language of leadership.  Do you have the confidence to speak with power?  Do you have the wisdom to speak with purpose?  Do you have the patience to adapt your communication style to the needs of your audience?  If you can master these skills, you are indeed an effective communicator.