Talking Tips

Six essential skills your teen should develop now

Practice makes perfect. There are certain elements of communication that you want to encourage your teen to practice now until it they become second nature. Waiting until you are interacting with adults, have a college or job interview is not the time you should be thinking about basic communication skills. These are the things your teens can begin to incorporate into their daily interactions, so when the situation holds weight, they can focus on the message they are trying to deliver, as oppose to their delivery.

Formal speech has given way to colloquial talk, which does not necessarily make the best impression in situations that count. If your teen can learn to relay a juicy incident without having to rely on slang words and dialect, they are equipped to sound intelligent in conversations where they may be being observed.

Great diction has also gotten lost in our super relaxed culture. However, if your teen can incorporate the habit of putting the endings on words and enunciating each syllable in every word, they are sure to stand out among their peers. Clear speech is what helps people to sound polished and intelligent.

Using better word choices is another way to come across as well educated. Big unfamiliar words are not what is being referenced here, just better words. For example, you can say, ‘stuff like that’ or ‘things of that nature’. Using a little more thought and expanding the vocabulary to words and phrases that are more refined inherently create a better impression.

Learning to use their voice is also important to come across as confident. This means speaking so that people can hear you, at a pace that is easy to follow. It also includes tone of voice and inflection; these small nuances make a huge difference in the way people interpret what you say.

Lastly, being cognizant of your body language is critical. Young people who develop self-awareness, make good use of eye contact and demonstrate positive body language are noticed. When you couple that with an ability to communicate well, you become privy to doors of opportunity.

Learning to engage in conversation with adults is the goal. Engaging is more than ‘yes mam’ and ‘no sir’. I have noticed in the Bahamas we teach our children to add these titles when speaking to adults, but they do not know how to converse. Your teen’s ability to engage in a respectful dialogue with an adult is way more important than simply adding handles when it comes to making an impression.

You not wait until they have a special interview, help them to develop these essential skills now. People are observing and opportunity is everywhere; you never know who is watching that can assist your teen in accomplishing their goals.

If you are interested in how your student can participate in my communication workshop for teens, send me an email for details.

• Kim Welcome is the chief executive officer and founder of Influential Voice. She assists businesses and professionals to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills to increase their impact and influence. Her clients range from the country’s largest and most prestigious employers to public figures and individual professionals. Feel free to contact at

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