Friday, December 19, 2008

Communication: Important and Often Overlooked

Like breathing, communication is so second nature, it’s often overlooked as a skill to develop. So, let’s take a look at the job cycle to reveal where we need these skills to be strong.

The Resume

To get your foot in the door, a well crafted resume is essential. This is a medium that requires the writer to take the facts of work history, and weave them into a concise narrative that is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

The Interview

The interview is a verbal dance that draws on your ability to communicate value in response to sometimes unknown questions, and also to ask probing questions yourself. Being articulate and concise is necessary to make a good impression.

The Job

E-mail: It can be a colloquial medium, but writing skills still need to be applied to your e-mails. As in any other form of composition, you should be able to get your point across in a concise (there’s that word again) and error-free way.

Meetings: Depending on your role, a meeting requires verbal ability to get your points across. You may also have to provide documents, which again will draw on your ability to use the written word.

Presentations: These are the symphonys of communication. You have to be verbally engaging, your slides need to be concise and well-written, and you must convey concepts with images.

Performance Reviews: The annual review is an area of communication that can affect your pocketbook for a whole year. Many companies use a boilerplate form, but it’s always effective to bring your own supplemental materials. By doing a little salary research for your ZIP code, you can create documents that list the year’s accomplishments and what the local marketplace will bear for your position. Good verbal and persuasive writing are a must to make your case.

In addition to some of the more typical training, next year, plan to hone your communication skills. Pick up a copy of Strunk’s and White’s The Elements of Style, get a copy of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, or join Toastmasters International. It will be time and money well spent.

Submitted by Chad Broadus.

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