You built an application that solves a problem most business owners face. You registered yourself at a local event to speak about your product, but no one cares. You try selling it on social media groups, but don't receive more than "Wow, that's an interesting idea."
Do these sound familiar? I've been there when I worked on most of my tasks during an apprenticeship, but another member would take all the credit. Turns out, I wasn't clearly speaking about my contributions to the project and how they helped make our project a success.
I was trying to make my contributions count, not to sell any product or impress an employer.
Whether you want to land a new job or make your contributions count, effective communication goes a long way.
Why Good Communication is Important for Developers
You might have seen developers who have the same level of technical skills as you being are more successful. And if you pay attention to their daily activities, you'll realize that they've mastered the art of clear communication.
One of the most common reasons behind unclear communication is the assumption that everyone else already knows what you know.
Developers often have to deliver their technical knowledge to their clients, colleagues, or bosses. And if you know the gist about speaking clearly, you'll unlock a lot of opportunities with the same level of technical skills.
My friend, just out of college, had an interview at a startup. The interview was extensive but he managed to make it. And when I asked him for the tips, he said, "Explain technical reasoning to them as if they are 10". This cannot happen without good communication skills.
Today, companies also conduct behavioral interviews to gauge the non-technical skills of candidates and when you're good at speaking, you can easily nail them.
I have a detailed guide on how to crack behavioral interviews in 3 easy steps on my blog. The guide has the exact steps I took to crack every behavioral interview last year, regardless of the company culture.
Whether you have a large following on LinkedIn or people who praise you at local meetups, good communication skills go a long way.
Without knowing the art of communication, you can't have any of them because people are short on time and they can't stick around if you can't deliver value.
Also, having a network unlocks a lot of new opportunities.
While some clients also are not good at delivering their goals clearly, you can save yourself if you know how.
Whether it's connecting with clients emotionally, understanding requirements, or conveying your thoughts, effective communication does the job.
Knowing to speak effectively is knowing your thoughts at a deeper level. When your brain thinks, you can't speak clearly. It's in a rush to pack up every speaking session. The rush will keep you from processing your thoughts when it's time to impress others.
Memorizing every sentence before a meeting and forgetting the script only does harm to your reputation.
When you develop communication skills, you can easily convey the ideas that come to your mind in the middle of having conversations. This builds credibility and offers you a competitive advantage.
How to Improve Your Communication Skills
Just like you build projects to master dev skills, communicating with humans is the key to improving your communication skills.
There is no shortcut to it. You can't communicate better by observing others, you have to do it yourself if you want growth.
I refined my speaking skills subconsciously, while I was looking for better opportunities. The impact it had on my way of expressing ideas was big enough that my mentors praised it during a cohort.
Join Engaging Discord Groups
You might think that discord communities are time-demanding. The thing is, you can chat for as little as ten minutes daily and still see a difference. One or two good communities work well if they've got a safe and active community.
Also, you can respond to messages throughout the day, just as you would with your friends.
Replying to others' wins, sharing your fears, and discussing daily errands or deadlines is a good ways to fine-tune your communication skills. Observe others' tone and try to be as clear as possible. You'll see a difference in your way of describing things in no time.
There is a voice and video call option too on Discord which can help enhance your speech.
Giving and receiving feedback without bias is one of the most important skills to learn. If you're still waiting to land your first developer job or find yourself taking feedback personally, GitHub contributions will teach you to not lose your cool every other day at work.
When you submit a pull request on GitHub, you're likely to receive feedback from the project maintainers. Think of that feedback as an opportunity to improve your tech skills. You'll soon realize how others' attention to detail helps you to think broadly and get better at your craft. Realizing this will help you accept feedback as a privilege to grow beyond limits.
Find a Mentor
Good mentors will encourage you to speak more by asking more. I've had the privilege to find a mentor who'd ask a lot of questions regarding my project, daily life, pets, work, and so on. And that'd stimulate my thoughts and speech. He'd then tell me about his life and this cycle allowed me to notice things that I felt didn't matter.
Finding a mentor is easier than you think through social media. All it takes is a motivation to find like-minded people whose work you admire.
An active social media account speaks about your credibility. I found a mentor through Instagram who helped me find free resources and would ask me about my progress.
Start posting on social media today about your progress, your work or whatever you find valuable. Comment on other people's posts to engage with them and make new connections. Also, don't forget to send non-pushy, sweet messages to new connections telling them you like their work.
Social media will help you stay accountable and keep track of your progress.
How to Improve Your Speaking Skills
If you're good at writing clearly but go blank when speaking, you're still behind in the game. Speaking more will refine your skills and you can start doing that even if you have no one to speak to.
The Collab Lab
The Collab Lab is a cohort-based program focused on helping developers learn collaboration for free.
You'll work within a team of 4-5 software developers to build a project under the guidance of mentors. The mentors keep you on track and foster a safe communication environment.
Topmate is a platform where professionals offer 1 on 1 sessions. From teachers sharing knowledge to therapists saving lives.
Over 10000 people use Topmate. The good thing is, some of them also offer free sessions and you just need to find them. The goal here is to improve your speaking skills.
LinkedIn is a great place to ask people on a virtual coffee chat. They don't need to be experts as the goal is to develop stronger speaking skills. Schedule meetings to speak about work, side projects, hobbies or anything you like and witness your skills skyrocket.
Discord (Not an additional point, but an extension to the first one 😉)
Use the calling feature on Discord and speak to people you've already interacted with. Invite them to work on projects together or discuss anything you both find interesting.
According to K. Anders Ericsson in his book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, "The right sort of practice carried over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else."
Ericsson was a psychologist and the expert of experts. He presented the performance theory and said expertise is achieved outside your comfort zone.
So if you feel you aren't a good communicator or you don't want to speak in front of others, then you should know that only speaking can take you away from those doubts.
The methods I listed above helped me speak better English. However, I used to escape every English conversation at school.