The 3 Essential Skills for Business Success (And What It Takes to Master Them)

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After the first few years at my company, I realized that there are three master skills professional life. They apply to all industries, sectors and areas of competence. Master any of them and you will see your social status and financial gains increase. Use all three and it will feel like doors are opening automatically and your rewards in life are so great, it’s like finding a magic lamp with a wish-granting genie.

The three master skills are speaking, writing and public speaking.

Unfortunately, many people fail to cultivate these skills, mistakenly believing that they are not as important compared to other skills. It’s a trap that leads many of the best and brightest in a given field to being the least successful financially. It’s a trap I fell into until I had an epiphany after an old sales executive told me, “To lead people, they have to want to be you in some way.”

Speaking is pretty easy. It is the ability to speak to people one-on-one and communicate your ideas in a way that the other person can understand. By being able to connect with others, sympathize, empathize and explain a concept, you create strong trust. People don’t trust a person as an expert or able to take care of their situation if they can’t understand the explanation because it’s so overly technical.

However, writing and speaking in public are special because both are intimidating to people. Many people avoid writing at all costs. Public speaking is one of the most shared fears among people. Almost everyone panics about how they could screw something up, or how intimidating it is to speak in front of their peers, or a whole litany of other irrationalities that make palms sweat and knees freeze.

The Master Skills share one common trait: the conveyance of ideas.

Mastering these three skills takes diligent practice and time, but the good news is that you can use them anywhere and in any field. They may scare you, as they do most people, but the ROI they bring you over your lifetime in terms of expert status, legitimacy, and profitability is immeasurable.

The fastest way to improve is to speak on as many stages as possible. Take every opportunity that comes your way and don’t worry about the size of the stage. Workshops, chamber of commerce events, local gatherings, or simply presenting at networking meetings are valuable and meaningful ways to improve your public speaking skills.

Getting an opportunity to speak at small events can be as simple as volunteering or asking an event coordinator if you can contribute. After your speech, you’ll have a unique opportunity to privately solicit feedback from individuals. Just find a few listeners and ask them, “What were your key takeaways?”

When you ask people what they learned, rather than a general “did they like it” (which people always say “it was good”), they respond with exactly that: the lesson they learned from your speech. If it aligns with what you intended, do a good deed. More often people take away something completely different than our intended message and find that this is immensely powerful for improving your communication skills.

Testing your communication with public speaking makes writing that much easier since they use similar storytelling and messaging skills. Getting feedback through speaking is easier than writing because you don’t typically see a reader’s real reaction or get feedback like you do on stage. Practicing them together will greatly increase the effectiveness of your sales pitch and your impact.

Why are these skills so powerful? Because they all help you communicate ideas with other people. The more effectively you communicate with people, the more impact you have, because at its core, society is all about people interacting with people.

The success or failure of any of your ventures is determined almost entirely by your ability to get other people to “buy into” you and your vision. To do this, you need to communicate well.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own and not those of Inc.com.

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