Communication is the key to success in many aspects of life, especially the work force. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identifies oral and written communications as one of eight essential skills that all new employees should possess when entering the workplace, regardless of field of study or degree earned. Even if you are undecided on a major or career, developing your communication skills is worthwhile. Whether you are communicating through oral or written language, here are some crucial elements you can focus on to convey your point of view accurately and some tips on how to enhance them.
Three important factors in oral communication are listening, managing body language, and thinking before speaking.
Listen: People want to know that they are being heard. It is important to listen to what the other person is saying, instead of only focusing on formulating your response. In a conversation, the person speaking to you should be the most important person in your life for that moment.
Manage Body Language: This is important for face-to-face meetings and video conferencing. Make sure that you appear accessible, so have open body language and avoid crossing your arms. And, keep eye contact so that the other person knows that you are paying attention.
Think Before Speaking: Always take a moment before you speak, as saying the first thing on your mind could be detrimental to the interaction. Pay close attention to what you say and how you say it. This habit will allow you to avoid embarrassing situations.
Tips for Development: If you are looking to hone these skills consider enrolling in COMM 1100: Principles of Public Speaking. This class focuses on overcoming apprehension, audience analysis, development of concepts, maximizing message impact, professional presentation skills, group projects, evidence, listening, and speech evaluation.
Another way you can increase your oral communication skills is through a practice interview at the Center for Career Development. It is a great way for you to learn how to present yourself in a professional manner and practice answering interview questions.
Three important factors in written communication are using people’s names, being concise, and avoiding grammatical errors.
Use People’s Names: Just as people notice when you speak their name, they are also aware when they read their name. It lets them know the message is for them and makes the person feel valued.
Be Concise: Learn to communicate your messages in the fewest number of words possible. This is my goal with every sentence I write. Short sentences are easier to read and comprehend than long sentences. If a sentence feels like it’s getting long, break it into two.
Avoid Grammatical Errors: Grammatical errors in a document will make you look unprofessional. It’s essential to learn grammar properly and avoid common mistakes that your spell checker won’t find. Your best options are to proofread your own document and to have another person proofread as well.
Tips for Development: A great way to develop your written communication skill is by joining The UConn Coalition of Writers (UCOW). This club was formed to exercise the creative minds of its members. They’re open to new or experienced writers of any kind who are looking to battle writer’s block or stretch their creativity.
Another way to improve written communication skills is through a résumé critique at the Center for Career Development. Your résumé is how you communicate to employers before you meet them. It is very important that you convey yourself to the employers in the best way possible.
Schedule an appointment with a career coach at the Center for Career Development to learn about other opportunities to develop essential career readiness skills.