Soft skills: a helpful guide – what are soft skills and how can you improve them?

Soft Skills: A Helpful Guide

This month, our focus is on the significance of showcasing soft skills with precision. We’ve prepared this informative guide to assist you in refining and enhancing your soft skills effectively.

While the term “soft skills” is familiar to many, the methods for improving them in presentations or media interactions may not be as clear. Sometimes, a brief and straightforward refresher can make all the difference.

What are soft skills?

The term soft skills means “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” 

Without understanding how to demonstrate soft skills, it can be a challenge to effectively communicate your message and connect with your audience. An employee or business representative who possesses great soft skills are extremely important to any business or brand, as they are often the face of your business, and as such should be able to promote the business or brand in a positive light or deal with a media crisis effectively.

Bluewood Top Tips for your soft skills

Audiences expect presenters to appear open, interested, and engaged. Simply reading from a script with crossed arms and mumbling through a talk won’t captivate your audience – you’ll be fortunate if they remain attentive for more than a few minutes. Losing the audience’s attention means they won’t absorb your message and are less likely to take action based on what you’re saying.

To support your presentations effectively, it’s crucial to employ various soft skills. We’ve categorized these skills into distinct areas and explored each one to illustrate how you can enhance your delivery and elevate your performance.

Hand Gestures:

Utilising hand gestures to emphasize key points, connect with the audience, and convey inclusivity enhances your presentation’s appeal and can effectively engage listeners. While excessive hand movements should be avoided, the strategic use of gestures to reinforce your verbal message provides valuable non-verbal support for your content.

Eye Contact:

When a presenter fails to establish eye contact, it creates a sense of exclusion and disconnect, diminishing the audience’s engagement. Maintaining consistent and frequent eye contact, even in large group settings, significantly enhances the audience’s attention and fosters a sense of connection between the presenter and each individual listener.


Pushing your shoulders back and holding your head high is a confident pose, it will help the audience trust your message a little more and will give you a boost too – this is great to do, especially if you are feeling some nerves. Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on some of the research and science around body-language, and how you can; ‘fake it, till you make it’:


It sounds simple but if you look a little cold or unhappy on stage, then that’s probably what the audience will be thinking of you too. A smile will boost your confidence but it will help the audience warm to you too. You can still come across as serious about your topic and offer a smile here and there, but obviously, beware of doing it when talking about a crisis or bad news.


Listening to a presenter with a monotone, same tempo, same volume voice is an easy way to drift off to sleep. You have to accentuate and vary your delivery to keep the listeners engaged. The areas to think about are:

  • Pitch; keep away from a monotone and vary your pitch when you can, even slight variations help to engage the listener.
  • Volume; aside from just making sure you speak loudly enough to be heard, you can also use volume to really hit home the important points.
  • Speed; talking too fast is a sure way of losing the audience, they need time to consider and digest what you say, if you talk too fast they will miss crucial parts. Use pauses before or after main messages and if you are communicating a complicated idea or list of facts, make sure you slow right down to give the listener time for them to sink in.

Sitting down:

It’s often easier/better to present standing up, but in very small groups or a meeting, this isn’t always appropriate. Even if you are sitting down, it’s still important to think about your body-language:

  • Place your feet firmly on the floor to ‘ground’ you and stop you shifting about.
  • Sit upright and right back into the seat of the chair so you have a solid stance.
  • Don’t cross your arms; it can make you look nervous, bored and defensive.
  • Keep your hands on the table in front of you and use hand gestures to back-up what you say.

There are a lot of elements to think about when it comes to soft skills and some people will have to work harder at it than others. Try and get feedback on your next presentation or watch yourself on camera to help you to assess what needs work. Try to add one element at a time, rather than trying to do too much to start with. And remember that this is an area where; if you can make small changes you will see big improvements.

To find out more about how we can help you with Soft Skills Training, get in touch with one of our training advisors today 0n 0845 230 2601 or click here to make an enquiry.


Will Edwards, Director


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