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PofE 010: Effective Communication Skills

Becoming a great communicator is a learned skill just like riding a bike is a learned skill. Like any skill you get better with practice.

Communication “Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein, physicist.


  • He worked his way into becoming an actor for Warner Brothers where he became a spokesman against communism and defended friends who were accused of being communists.
  • He studied economics in college and his first job was as a radio sports announcer.
  • He lost the 1976 republican nomination to represent his party in the upcoming presidential election to Gerald Ford.
  • He served six terms as the President of the Screen Actors Guild, two terms as California’s Governor as well as two terms as the President of the United States of America.

Who was Ronald Reagan?


How did Ronald Reagan become an excellent communicator?

Ronald Reagan developed his gift for communicating through consistent practice and so can we. His mother read to him as a young child and he used to trace his figure under the words following her as she read to him. This enabled Reagan to read the newspaper independently by the age of 5. Early in his life during his grade school years he did well and grew tremendously in his academic studies. His mother was also an amateur thespian who involved him in public readings and local plays.

Through this early training, he learned that empathizing with others and using pictorial word examples allowed others to see what he was saying which made a major difference in how his speeches were accepted. This was one of the keys to his development as a powerful communicator. He also realized that putting himself in another person’s shoes would provide him the right perspective when delivering a speech in which he wanted to persuade his audience to see an issue from his point of view.

Reagan’s love for reading and a genuine concern for his constituents led him to devote time to studying the issues of his day in a pursuit of a resolution and he delivered results. As he grew in his speaking ability he secured a position with GE as a tour guide conducting 2 to 3 sessions a day at the 139 General Electric Facilities. His speaking ability and desire to help others compelled him into the political spotlight. As President of the United States he was known as the “Great Communicator.” This was a title that he earned and worked diligently to develop.

What about you? In a survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board they discovered that a key  attribute of a great leader is his or her ability to communicate both verbally and in writing.   So, what can you do to become a great communicator?

In November 2010, I read and studied a book titled, “Presentation Zen” by  Garr Reynolds. This book was a game changer for me in regards to how to develop effective presentations. I am also attending and delivering speeches at my local Toastmasters group in Maryland (Khalsa Toastmasters). This group provides encouragement and support in the development of my public speaking skills. Finally, I will share about a writing school I discovered online. The writing courses are taught by professional writers and are tremendously effective in teaching the skills and techniques you need to acquire to improve your writing in a number of genres . Let’s get started!

  1. Presentation Zen

This book is an easy read and is only 220 pages long. The author provides incredible insights into the process for developing effective presentations. The book explains how to use PowerPoint effectively so that you are not subjecting your audience to death by PowerPoint presentations. He also encourages you to use the three parts of an effective presentation which are: 1) The PowerPoint presentation, 2) The speaker's notes, and 3) the handouts. I also like his presentation development approach which is to start with pencil and paper or large paper and posted notes. This is a great method for brain storming with a group whether you are co-located  in a room or meeting virtually by video conference. Presentation Zen is the featured book in the "Book of the Month" section of my blog.  Also to learn more about Presentation Zen, click here:


      2. Highlight Toastmaster 

Becoming a great communicator is a learned skill just like riding a bike is a learned skill. Like any skill, you get better with practice. Ronald Reagan has a talent for verbal communication but without mentoring and practice he would not have developed into the “Great Communicator” that he became. Joining Toastmasters  can help you develop into a better speaker and provide you with an experienced mentor(s) who will evaluate your speaking abilities and provide you with the encouragement to work on areas you need to grow in. The manuals and speech development processes that you learn are life changing and will help you transform into a better communicator both personally and professionally. You also have the opportunity to participate in free leadership training as well as local, regional, national and global speaking contests if you desire to taking your speaking to that level.

Here is a list of professional speakers that have attributed Toastmasters to the development of their speaking abilities:

  • Tim Allen – TV actor from “Home Improvement”
  • Philip Crosby – Quality expert and leader of the quality movement
  • Napoleon Hill – Best-selling author of "Think and Grow Rich;" presidential adviser
  • Leonard Nimoy – Actor from “Star Trek”


To learn more about Toastmasters International, click here:


       3. Gotham Writer’s Workshop Online courses

The Gotham online writers workshops are an enjoyable way to develop your writing skills and to have a published author critique your writing. The workshops are usually 6 to 10 weeks long and consist of an online classroom. The classrooms are structured to provide you feedback on your writing from the instructor as well as by other students. Each week a specific topic is covered and a writing assignment is required. There is also a discussion board to discuss the topic of the week with fellow students and gain valued insights from their comments.

What I like most about Gotham Writer's Workshop is that I can print out the lessons, read them on my way to work and develop my writing assignment offline and them copy and paste my assignment for the instructor to review.

One of the best ideas I received from taking their Business Writing class was called the Drill. The Drill is a way of developing your thoughts regarding what I am writing about, who I am writing to, and what do I want them to gain from my communication. I have used this on all of my blogs, important emails, and other written communications where I really want to ensure I get my point across and that the other person will accept it. To learn more about that, click here:

       4. Other Communication Resource

i)     Check out, this is a cool site for reviewing great presentations from other professionals. You will get a lot of cool ideas on how to structure a compelling presentation.


What are you doing to develop your communication skills? Do you have any tips or best practices that you would like to share with other readers?

Principles of Execution Key Concepts:

  • Ronald Reagan
  • The Great Communicator
  • Effective Communication

Share your ideas or thoughts! 

10 Free Resources To Increase Your Productivity


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