Your Career Q&A: Communication Skills Drive Career Success

By Martin Yate Feb 17, 2017

​Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.  

Public speaking is a significant challenge for me. I get nervous, start fumbling over my words and lose eye contact. I'm having a hard time finding approaches to strengthen this weakness. Are there any ideas or suggestions you could give that could help me out?


Effective communication has a truly positive impact on your career, whether in a job interview, in a meeting with your boss, when speaking with co-workers, when making a presentation to the board or when interacting with clients.

Working to improve your communication skills is a smart career move and a readily achievable goal. One example to keep in mind is Ronald Reagan, who became known as an excellent orator but initially struggled with speechmaking.

Most people think of communication as only speaking. There are, in fact, seven other communication skills (including not only what you say and how you say it, but also how you listen and write) that empower all your professional interactions. Don't forget to build these up, as well.  

The worldwide association Toastmasters International is dedicated to helping people improve their communication skills. Joining this group and attending its meetings will improve your communication abilities in all aspects of your professional life and build your professional network. The above link will point you to a nearby chapter.

There's a hidden benefit to joining Toastmasters: You'll be among kindred spirits, and that support is really valuable in building confidence.

Having faced a professional weakness squarely in the face and identified the challenge it presents to achieving the life you want, you now get to implement a solution that turns a weakness into strength.

Have a question for Martin? E-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter. 


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Post a Job


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect