You might be well versed in how to speak like a service member. Acronyms and abbreviations are a big part of the military language. But, as you transition into the civilian workforce, you might be challenged to find ways to articulate yourself to your colleagues best. After all, no one is going to know that SA stands for situational awareness, and no matter how many times you try to get FYSA to stick in place of FYI, it’s probably not going to happen.
A very important part of getting a job in the civilian workforce is being able to speak clearly. This applies to everything from your networking events to interviews and then at your new job. Speaking skills rely on having the ability to speak clearly about a range of topics in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand. As a transitioning service member, you’re probably very accustomed to giving briefs and providing information to a wide variety of people. For you, the challenge comes in being able to express ideas without sounding like you’re still in the military.
Communication skills will help you interview more frequently, network better, and might ultimately help lead to a job. But where do you start learning these skills after being in the service for so long?
One of the best ways to improve your speaking skills is to put a moratorium on using military jargon in everyday conversation. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is – in part because the language has probably become a very real part of your daily lexicon. The truth is that civilians won’t understand what you’re saying. So unless you’re applying for a GS or contractor position, you’re going to have to learn to use fewer abbreviations and more words.
Once you’ve started to remove the acronyms from your daily speech, consider adding in new words. Technology makes this simple with apps that help you learn new words. By spending time on elevating your vocabulary to showcase your intelligence better, employers will recognize that you’ve taken time and put forth the effort to better your speaking skills.
Having good speaking skills requires self-confidence, and as you know, the best way to boost self-confidence is to practice. If you’re uninterested in joining a public speaking club like Toastmasters, consider practicing with friends and family. Ask them to give you a random topic and then talk about it. It’s going to take some getting used to, but the end result should be that you’re able to think on your feet more quickly and will notice remarkable improvement with your speaking skills.
Remember that communication involves a lot of factors – not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. Barking or speaking in a loud, aggressive voice might work for formation, but it’s not going to fly in an interview. That’s not to say you shouldn’t assert yourself, but be mindful of how you say things. Respecting the boundaries of the hiring manager is key.
Being able to speak clearly is the cornerstone of effective speaking skills. If you’re at an interview, expect to be asked questions about how you communicate. This is the ideal space for you to showcase your ability to answer questions with poise and confidence.