10 Tips to Communicate More Effectively

March 15, 2024
Professional woman high fiving another woman at a conference table with two men seated

Whether you are negotiating or delivering a presentation, you can take tangible steps to get your point across in a more impactful way. 

The most dazzling public speakers, influential negotiators and compelling conversationalists have at least one thing in common: they have invested tremendous time and effort into honing their craft. 

At Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, MBA students follow the footsteps of impactful communicators by taking a broad range of practical courses in communication. These courses teach fundamentals in negotiation and communicating with data, interpersonal communication and public speaking. 

Below, two communications instructors share the guidance they impart to their MBA students.

Sara Perry
Sara Perry
Sarah Varga
Sarah Varga

1) Know when to stop talking. 

“Skilled communicators know when to stop talking and listen,” Sara Perry, PhD, an associate professor of Management, said. “Ask a question and stop. Do not explain why you asked the question, or ask a question and then immediately follow up with more thoughts.” 

Filling empty spaces with words can relieve anxiety, but it can lead to poor listening and oversharing. Being willing to sit through silence is a valuable skill that, when mastered, can convey a message more effectively than maintaining a steady stream of conversation. 

2) Take off the mask.

“Some people think that communicating well means putting on a mask or a costume, like you have some sort of alter-ego,” Sarah Varga, PhD, an instructor at the Hankamer School of Business, said. “But you can communicate effectively while still being yourself.”

A self-proclaimed introvert who was shy as a kid, Varga has learned to project warmth and competence without morphing into someone she is not. Communicative competence requires skill and practice, but it does not require the communicator to always have a larger-than-life presence. Whether gregarious or reserved, organized or extemporaneous, animated or calm, every individual has the internal resources to communicate well without masking their true personality. 

3) Listen more carefully.  

In every personal or professional setting, the best communicators are also the best listeners. They first consider the perspective and background of the person or group they are addressing, asking other-oriented questions like, “What do they need for me to communicate right now?” When someone else speaks, they listen without glazing over and focusing on how they will express their next thought. 

In Varga’s experience, everyday life is full of opportunities to practice better listening. If you are stuck in line or sitting in a waiting room, make the most of your time by striking up casual conversation.

“Often we feel that if a conversation does not take off right away, we should just give up,” she said. “But it is always worth trying again, because there is always some way to relate. Sometimes it is as simple as asking someone more about their profession, if you are unfamiliar with what they do, or what it was like to grow up in a place you have never visited.”

4) Never stop improving.

Some people are more innately gifted at verbal or written communication than others, but everyone can improve throughout their lifetime. Perry and Varga can each provide countless examples of students who did the slow, often awkward work of examining their own communication style and identifying areas of improvement. From negotiating a higher salary to improving communication with a friend or roommate, this effort can reap considerable dividends.

5) Take a breather. 

In her Negotiation and Conflict Resolution class, Perry often advises students to “go to the balcony.” In other words, leave a heated negotiating table and get some air. When the “fight, flight, or freeze” response is overwhelming the brain, it is best to pause a conversation and find a way to calm down. Some people find it helpful to tap into their five senses by identifying sights, smells and sounds around them. Others benefit more from a brisk walk around the block. 

“Never engage if you feel emotional,” Perry said. “Especially in situations of conflict, it is vital to diagnose or define a set of issues and depersonalize those issues.” 

By simply taking a breather, you can prevent disagreements from devolving into personal attacks and communicate without regrets. 

6) Bring energy and enthusiasm to the table.

Sometimes, in an effort to appear professional, people intentionally lower their enthusiasm or energy level. They do not want to come across as overeager or naive, so they end up coming across as serious and disengaged instead. While you do not need to put on a bubbly, gregarious persona if it is not native to your personality, it should still be evident that you care about whatever you are communicating. Do not be afraid to make a joke or move around during a presentation. Do not make an interviewer wonder if you really want the job. Professional and personable are not on opposite ends of one spectrum. They are on two different spectrums, so you can be both simultaneously.

7) Find points of connection, even when there is disagreement.

“Peacemakers are not doormats,” Perry said. “They actively work to find ways to connect.” 

Communicating well with someone with fundamentally different values hinges on the ability to listen carefully and find common ground. On certain hot-button issues, you are unlikely to change someone’s mind. Rather than trying to convert them to your way of thinking, which can quickly backfire, make connection the higher goal. Whether it is talking about a common hobby or asking about someone’s family, there are ways to diffuse a tense situation with kindness and respect. Then, as goodwill builds, there will be opportunities to discover more and more points of connection around contentious issues.

8) Tell a story.

Humans make sense of the world in stories. When a speaker begins a speech or presentation with a story, that is often the part that the audience remembers after they leave. A good story has the power to pull at the heartstrings, infuse the audience with empathy and breathe life into the driest set of facts. To control the narrative, create a compelling one. 

9) Edit yourself.

There are few experiences more cringeworthy than watching a video of yourself, but evaluating speech from an outside perspective can help identify points of improvement when it comes to distracting habits and mannerisms. Whether it is limiting filler words like “um” and “like” or making a point to move around slowly rather than fidget, small changes can make all the difference.

Editing your communication also means grouping pieces of information well. In a professional context, people usually have more information to present than they have time to share. They often fall prey to the temptation to dump the entirety of their content onto their audience, hoping someone grabs onto a nugget of useful information here or there. Instead, they should “chunk” information, breaking it down into digestible parts and highlighting major points without overwhelming people with excessive detail. 

10) Select the richest medium. 

Anyone who has ever fought with a friend or family member over text knows that the most convenient medium is not always the best medium for communicating well. 

“It is always easier to fire off a text or comment anonymously,” Perry said. “In fact, research tells us that the more anonymous people feel, the more willing they are to escalate.” 

While there is certainly merit in writing out thoughts before verbally communicating them, if that is someone's preference, the best chance of connection and mutual understanding is a face-to-face conversation. If that is not possible, a phone or video call is the second-best option. Whatever the situation, choose the richest medium of communication—in other words, the medium that allows people to convey tone, interpret body language and pick up on other visual and verbal cues more easily.


Effective Communication is a skill and artform that is crucial to every aspect of life—whether you are in the office or navigating the day-to-day. Each unique personality type can succeed in communication with the right guidance and practice. At Baylor University, our MBA programs help students become versatile, impactful and skilled communicators in every avenue they pursue. 

Are you looking for ways to sharpen your communication skills? Click here to learn more about Baylor’s MBA programs or fill out the form here to speak directly with an Enrollment Coordinator.