The new decade is upon us and however our goals differ, we’re united by a common thread – the desire to succeed.

The notion of success may differ from professional to professional, and from one business leader to another. But again, we all want to feel valued, and we want our work to matter.

Taking stock of my activities of the year, I’ve noted that the desire for self-improvement has topped the goals for professionals I’ve interacted with. In workshops, training programmes or one-on-one coaching sessions, professionals and leaders have realised that to increase their influence and create the desired impact, they needed to improve their communication skills.

Now as a communications coach and trainer, I understand the latent urgency: without persuasive communication skills, your visibility at work is dimmed, and your influence as a leader is diminished. 

I’m not excluded from this reality. I continually improve my skills to remain relevant so that I could provide value to professionals and leaders that empowers them to achieve their goals. I also learn by teaching, coaching and training. In fact, no matter how well versed in the content I become, I always learn something new. Sessions, interactions or online discussions with professionals, authors and experts in the field sharpen my knowledge and provides ample fodder for audience-centric programmes.

Therefore, if you’re still unconvinced that 2020 would be a year of professional reckoning if you don’t reskill or upskill your communication capabilities, below are three powerful reasons you should take action.

1) You’d compel people to notice

If there’s one goal you should commit to in 2020, it’s to improve your public speaking skills.

You’ve probably read the now popular explanation by Warren Buffett that improving your public speaking skills would increase your value by 50%. By being intentional about speaking in public, by studying the craft of persuasive speaking, and by actually doing the speaking, two things become inevitable: You’d become more confident, and you’d become more visible.

So for example, speaking up in meetings and ensuring you make one clear point or suggest a solution, will make your noticeable – even as a newcomer. Similarly, delivering a presentation that addresses the needs of the audience in a simple, concise manner, with a strong call-to-action, makes you relevant. Even making thoughtful comments in a group discussion indicates that your contributions matter and that you should be taken seriously.

As a professional or business leader, speaking clearly without corporatespeak and using nonverbal cues that signal trust—such as variation in tone, ‘open’ body language positions, and gestures—help power your delivery.

Speaking well in corporateville gets you noticed. But being exceptional when you speak so that you inspire people or coax some action compels people to notice you.

And here’s the amazing thing: You can learn this skill and constantly hone it for greater effectiveness.

Presentation workshops, public speaking training sessions, coaching services, TED talks, Toastmasters Club sessions, team meetings, online courses, webinars, and webcasts – numerous options to improve your skills abound. So choose your medium or use a combination of different sources.

But do something specific to start the process, and commit to the discipline of speaking regularly—at least twice a month—throughout 2020. For quicker results, speak up at every meeting you attend and make one meaningful contribution.

As often as possible, record your presentations or speeches on any smartphone, and study your performance afterwards. Watch your performance with the audio to observe your complete delivery, and without the audio to note your body language cues. Reviewing the recordings objectively is an effective way to identify your errors and correct your mistakes in subsequent stints.

As the year progresses, you’d be amazed at the progress you’d have made and the recognition you’d have enjoyed.

Take this public speaking challenge to advance in your career.

2) You’d increase your influence

Your title doesn’t translate to automatic influence.

Your title might give you some power but not influence, and there’s a difference. People acknowledge power and might accept it. But unless you’re a dictator ruling a country, power without influence will land you the podium but will lose you the supporters.

The mistake some business leaders and C-suite executives make is that they assume that since they’ve earned the coveted positions, their direct reports would automatically support them. They believe that once they communicate a vision and articulate clear goals, employees would become empowered and deliver positive results. However,  without communication that connects, trust cannot be generated, and performance cannot be guaranteed. In this post, I recounted an intensive one-on-one coaching session with an expatriate leader and the key realisation I gleaned. I learnt that enhancing your communication skills by cultivating a growth mindset, developing cultural intelligence, and by honing your interpersonal skills will make you more influential in your role.

Moreover, open, clear communication has been linked to leadership effectiveness. For example, the 2014 findings by the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor group is impressive. They analysed the perceptions of over 6,500 people, in 13 countries, regarding the link between effective communication and effective leadership. Their accounts included the points below:

1. Open communication remained critical to effective leadership. As the top-ranking attribute, 74% viewed it as very important to great leadership.  Yet only 29% felt leaders communicated effectively, with a 45-point expectation/delivery gap.

2. Leadership communication directly impacted the bottom line. Reportedly, 61% boycotted or bought less from a company due to poor leadership, while only 52% started buying or purchased more, spurred on by strong leadership.

Note that good communication skills also pave the way to higher employee engagement, which in turn triggers a whole range of positive outcomes, such as higher productivity and improved financial outcomes. The summary of an authoritative study released by Towers Watson linked a communicative culture to stronger financial performance.

Companies considered highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the previous five years, compared with those that were least effective communicators. In their executive summary, they noted that their research had consistently found that firms that communicated effectively with employees were also the best financial performers.

So as a business leader, strive to upgrade your communication skills. They would serve you well and complement your efforts in leading your organisation to profitability.

3) You’d convert the naysayers

Clean business writing converts.

Whatever your position in the corporate jungle, learning how to write in a simple, concise, and clear manner quickly dispels ambiguity, increases collaboration, and persuades the naysayers.

Clear writing comes from clear thinking. Therefore, the act of being able to write to different audiences to rally support for a cause, to refute a claim, or (in times of crisis) to raise morale, is a skill that you should hone in 2020.

The steps to writing well are incredibly simple. First, update your grammar, and note that many free resources exist online, one is which is the University of Bristol grammar page. Second, read well-written content such as books, novels, newspaper articles from reputable sources, blog posts, and white papers, (within your field and beyond). Finally, write regularly. Books on writing are invaluable but realise that knowledge without application is fruitless. So build your competence in writing and consistently practise the craft.

It’s a game for the long-haul; thus, be realistic about your expectations. Over time, you’d be able to develop a ‘tone’ in your writing and use your skills to win people over and get the results you desire.


In 2020, set yourself up for success by reskilling or upskilling your communication arsenal. Whether you’re seeking to advance in your career or to lead units, superb communication skills will make you more influential.

As a result, you’d move hearts, inspire action,  and achieve great feats.

Professionals and business leaders – why be content with your good-enough skills when you could be exceptional?

Why settle at all?

Over to you:

Do you need help in boosting your communication skills? Sign up here for my free quarterly newsletters and learn best practices. When you sign up, you’ll receive my evergreen resource on giving persuasive presentations. Ensure you download that document and refer to it before any high-stakes presentation or speech.

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N.B: First and third images are courtesy of Stuart Miles via Second image is courtesy of Bplanet via

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