Top tips for better communication

General points

• Show patience and understanding
• Be aware that the person may tire easily
• Reduce distractions and background noise
• Give the person plenty of time
• Talk to the person as an adult and be aware that they may be embarrassed by their difficulties
• Check that the person is wearing their hearing aids, glasses or dentures

Helping the person’s understanding

• One-to-one conversations may be easier to follow than group conversation
• Face the person as you speak, and ensure you have their attention
• Keep the conversation simple and familiar
• Avoid sudden changes of topic and complicated ideas
• Talk slowly and clearly but without shouting
• Use short sentences – use pauses to break up long sentences
• Provide additional clues as you talk e.g. gesture, facial expression
• Use props, such as maps, photographs, calendars, or pen and paper to write words or draw diagrams.
• Check that the person has understood and repeat or rephrase if necessary

Helping the person to express themselves

• Allow the person plenty of time to get their message across
• Encourage the person to use other forms of communication to support their speech, e.g. gesture, writing, drawing
• Help the person to join in the conversation by asking questions that can be answered with simple responses
• If the person has word-finding difficulties, encourage them to:
– Describe the item or say what it is used for
– Write it down/ draw it/ gesture it
• Try not to finish the person’s sentences, as this can be annoying for them
• Be honest if you have not understood the person
• Consider returning to a topic later if the person gets ‘stuck’.