Management and leadership require the ability to communicate effectively. This means crafting, delivering and following up on oral and written messages to your employees, suppliers and customers. You’ll need some help from the pros to improve your skills, but choosing the right books, websites and seminars will help you learn to persuade, motivate, inspire and explain complicated concepts.

Evaluate Your Needs

Based on where you are and where you want to go in your career, list the communication skills you need to develop. These might include public speaking, article writing, preparing reports and proposals, running department meetings, offering staff critique and feedback and negotiating with clients and employees. Communication skills are used in sales, requiring you to improve your skills at crafting sales letters, making in-person presentations, selling over the phone and handling ongoing customer relations. You might need to improve your technical skills, including the use of presentation software, videoconferencing tools and social media sites and you might need to improve your typing speed.

Look for Resources

Depending on your goals and needs, multiple resources are available to help you improve your communication skills. If you are in sales, look for books and video tutorials that advise how to write effective sales letters and make oral presentations. If you need to improve your general business writing skills, take a one-day business communications seminar or workshop. Look for books or business magazine articles on negotiating, persuasion, effective listening, customer service and general people skills. Using an online tutorial, you can teach yourself to type quickly. If your position allows, ask your information technology staff to teach you how to create presentations on a computer, set up teleconferences and videoconferences and use social media sites, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and those that provide blogging software.

Create a Plan

To prevent yourself from creating a plan you end up shelving, list the actions you’ll take to improve your communication skills in the order in which you want to complete them. List the ways you’ll complete them, in terms of seminars you’ll attend or books you’ll buy, and set completion dates for each. Create a detailed plan that results in specific written goals, their intended benefits, a calendar, the resources you’ll need and a budget.

Obtain Feedback

Ask your co-workers and supervisors for feedback about your communication skills. If more than two people tell you that you need to improve on a particular skill, work on getting better in that area.

Track Potential Benefits

Keep a sheet of paper on your desk to jot down notes each day about instances where specific aspects of your development plans would have come in handy. List your planned development activities and make notes next to each one that would have helped you. For example, if you have a report due, make a note that you would have used the skills from your business writing seminar. If you need to pitch to a client, note that the book you plan to buy on writing sales letters would have helped. If you have a staff meeting, write on your sheet that your public speaking workshop would have come in handy. Keep track of any problems that arise each day that resulted from or could have been avoided by better communication. At the end of each day, you will see multiple ways your communication development plans will affect your day-to-day workload, motivating you to stick to your plan and make it a priority.