Communication Skills are Crucial to Your Business


How will you improve yours?

by Chia-Li Chien | Nov. 16, 2012

In my last corporate position, I was a director of Information systems in one of the world’s largest adult beverage companies—an $8BB publicly traded business. I felt I could never stand up to facilitate a meeting. I felt I could never speak in front of a group—even just to give a status report in front of my clients. I always delegated those types of activities to my group managers. With over 167 people reporting to my projects or department, I always believed that “English was my second language” and used that as an excuse to avoid presenting in front of people. 

You see I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. I came to the U.S. at the age of 21 and did not start learning English as the way I would have to communicate until then. Fourteen years after I received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the U.S., John, my professor in the Ph.D. program believed, and constantly reminded me that “further work on my English” was needed in order to pursue my Ph.D. (I received an A in John’s class however, I was so frustrated and discouraged by his constant harsh remarks, that I’ve had my Ph.D. program on hold since 2005.)

Today, I bet my husband TC can’t stand my annoying presentation practicing at home. Perhaps my daughter Con-Ning can’t quite understand what I just said or points out a word I’ve mispronounced. Yet they continue to support my efforts to continuously improve my communication skills.

Yi-Fan, a close friend of mine in Taipei asked if I could translate my books and publish them in Chinese. I am now totally westernized and to communicate in Chinese is harder than you might imagine. You see, it’s not just about the language. It’s about the total package of culture, effective use of communication and how I can best communicate with those that play important roles in my life. Translating from English to Chinese would now be another milestone to reach.

In 2008, I hired a sales coach, Emily, to coach me on obtaining a higher closing ratio. I had never been in a sales or marketing role in my career and believed Emily could help me achieve my goal. To my surprise, Emily recommended I visit a Toastmasters International® meeting (without telling me anything about Toastmasters). “Just pick a club and see it for yourself!” said Emily. And just like any docile Asian student, I went to my first Toastmasters meeting in June of 2008, without any hesitation.

When I first joined Toastmasters, I thought the purpose would simply be to learn to communicate effectively in front of people. Through the Toastmaster platform and process, I became a better writer, too, not to mention that today, many organizations invite me to speak publically.

Toastmasters is readily available to any willing learner seeking to improve communication and leadership skills—even writing! To stand out in your profession or business, technical skills alone is no longer good enough. Effective communication and leadership skills make a huge difference. It takes investment of your time and energy to persistently follow the Toastmasters platform and process. But the rewards and payoffs are great, and you just might surprise yourself!

I’ve also been able to earn my Toastmasters Advanced Communicator Gold designation— meaning I’ve completed forty-three Toastmasters projects (speeches) plus facilitated and participated in numerous meetings. Today, I continue to attend three to four meetings each month at two different Toastmasters clubs. This helps me practice and continue to develop my communication skills, regardless of my current accomplishments. There is always room for improvement, and most importantly, I learn a lot from my fellow Toastmasters members.

With the help of my editor Aprill, my first book, Show Me The Money, received two awards in 2010. And I just published my second book, Work Toward Reward, in October 2012. And yes, the third book is now in synopsis stage and I’m working closely with a team of publishing experts. So stay tuned, and keep improving YOUR speaking, presentation and writing skills.

About Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY,” succession strategist for women entrepreneurs, award-Winning author and speaker. She is Chief Strategist of Value Growth Institute, dedicated to helping private business owners increase the equity value of their firms. She is the award-winning author of the books Show Me The Money and Work toward Reward and a faculty member of the American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a Top Small Business Resource by the New York Times You’re the Boss blog. http://chialichien.com
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