breather-7188bCommunication skills are necessary to thrive in business particularly in the not-for-profit industry. Whether you are a volunteer treasurer, a volunteer, or serving on the board of an NFP, it is essential that your communication skills are beyond reproach.

Be Mindful of Your Body Language

Your body language can tell a lot about your inner feelings. Therefore it is vital that your body language matches your voice to avoid sending a mixed message. Always maintain eye contact and avoid actions such as crossing arms or legs which may signal your disinterest. If you are prone to fidgeting, then try to keep your hands by your side to not distract from the conversation.

Practice Small Talk

Let’s face it – not everyone is good at small talk. Small talk is ideal for ice-breakers, particularly at fundraisers and other significant events. If small talk or water cooler chatter is not your thing, then it pays to practice it. It is a wonderful way to get to know people before you tackle the broader issues.

Ask Questions

Asking questions will signal to the person you are talking to that you are interested in what they have to say. It shows great respect and your willingness to interact with them. It also demonstrates that you care about their opinions and points of view.

Minimise Distractions

If you are talking to someone, then put your phone and electrical devices away. Listen to what they have without distraction. If you are speaking on the phone, then give them 100% attention. The same goes during your face-to-face conversations. Less distraction also means less room for error. Never answer your phone while you are in the middle of a conversation. Let it come to a natural conclusion and find a quiet space to return the call.

Think Before You Speak

Try to avoid saying the first thing which comes out of your mouth. Pause before you talk and will stop you from rushing into the conversation through nerves or anxiety. Always be polite with others and never, ever interrupt another person while they are speaking. If you inadvertently do interrupt, apologise without hesitation, and let them continue.


Smiling while conversing with someone shows you want to talk and you are happy in their company. Remember, they could also be feeling ill at ease, so smiling is an excellent ice-breaker of sorts. It will help relax you and them and help the conversation to flow more smoothly. It will also ensure that the conversation stays positive and constructive.

Keep your tone low

When you are nervous, you may find that your voice pitch can creep up. Keep your tone low and calm, so you don’t come across as overly aggressive. If necessary, record yourself so you can hear how you send when you are speaking to others. Talking in front of others comfortably is quite an art form, and it can take many years of practice to perfect it well.