You’ve likely heard that communication is key, but if you ask Communications Professional Ellen Hudson-O’Brien and retired Television Reporter and Anchor Bill Hudson, communication is everything. During a keynote presentation at The RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit in San Diego, Dec. 14-15, the father-daughter duo will combine their decades of experience crafting the art of effective communication to share their actionable strategies to elevate your communication skills to build trust, inspire action, and produce results. Ahead of this year’s event, the keynote speakers talked to RISE about a few of their favorite communication techniques.

Communication is an increasingly sought after “soft skill” in the professional world, even surpassing traditional “hard skills” like financial management or legalese given its role in strong leadership, explained Hudson-O’Brien. And when it’s practiced effectively, it can be a professional’s greatest asset to relationship building, accomplishing goals, and so much more.

“Clear, concise, unmuddied communication is the key to everything in life. Whether it’s a personal relationship you have, or it’s a sale you’re trying to close, or a difficult conversation you’re having with health care professionals about a particular patient you have, you need clear and concise communication,” said Hudson. “And there are going to be times where you’re challenged in that conversation, and it’s going to get difficult and uncomfortable. But there are useful and helpful ways to conduct those conversations.”

During the keynote presentation, Beyond Business Acumen–How Health Care Leaders Can Communicate More Effectively, Hudson and Hudson-O’Brien will discuss the power in effective communication, navigating difficult conversations, and verbal and nonverbal techniques to engage an audience. They will  kick off the second day of RISE’s two-day conference, The RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit, Dec. 14-15, at the InterContinental San Diego

RELATED: RISE Radio Episode 13: Dr. Jasmine Zapata on the importance of self-care, empowerment, and pursuing your passion

The foundation to effective communication

So, what makes someone a strong communicator? It starts with a few simple steps that anyone can practice. Here are Hudson and Hudson-O’Brien’s top tips to becoming a confident communicator:

1. Turn your attention outwards rather than inwards. When speaking in front of a group of people, whether virtually or in-person, distraction can be your greatest tool, according to Hudson-O’Brien, who recommends taking a few moments to observe what’s going on around you to curb your nerves. “It helps you get out of your head and refocus on providing value to the audience. It’s as simple as observing what attendees are wearing, or look like, or where they’re from to help quiet the voices in your head about you and your performance.”

2. Practice, practice, practice. “We’re much more comfortable with topics we’ve talked about so many times, it’s the new things that really get you nervous,” said Hudson-O’Brien. Whether preparing for a live television segment, for a speech, or just talking to employees, practice is key. Get comfortable with what you want to say by practicing in front of a mirror or recording yourself on your phone.

The RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit

3. Speak conversationally. “You want to speak naturally and conversationally, don’t be forced,” said Hudson. “Just speak like you would talk to someone at the dinner table or to a neighbor in the yard. Keep it conversational.”

4. Treat everyone equally. People tend to get caught up on who they’re speaking to but keep your focus on what you’re there to speak about. Regardless of where your audience is on the chain of command, focus on connecting.

5. Stay in your lane. Pivoting out of difficult questions is an important communication skill, and it’s important you don’t get yourself further down a hole trying to speak outside your lane of expertise. “Have the confidence to say, I don’t have all facts,” said Hudson.

Hudson and Hudson-O’Brien will share more communication strategies at The RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit, Dec. 14-15, in San Diego.