By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, Online Career Tips
Clear, concise communication is a vital asset in the business world. In job advertisements, most employers seek employees with good communication skills, such as the ability to write well or speak to other people.
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Why Good Writing Is Important
Having the ability to write well is important in the business world, because it saves you and your coworkers time and effort. For example, being able to write a clear, concise email to communicate information to your coworkers or bosses is a useful skill that avoids miscommunication. If the recipients of your email have to write back and ask you to explain the meaning of your email, that takes up valuable work time for you and them.
Good writing skills are also essential when you’re working on a project such as a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation. In these projects, it’s best to avoid going off on tangents that are unrelated to your main topic and to make sure your writing has a logical structure.
For instance, many PowerPoint presentations have information that is reduced to a group of bullet points on each slide. This format demands that you keep your writing as clear and concise as possible.
The Need for Oral Communication Skills
Sometime during your career, you may be asked to talk over ideas at a departmental meeting or get feedback from a coworker. In other situations, your boss might ask you to give a presentation to clients or coworkers or speak to a large group of potential customers.
In such situations, effective oral communication skills are vitally necessary. You can develop your oral communication skills by:
- Keeping your message clear and concise – avoid rambling or going off on tangents
- Listening actively – pay close attention to the person talking to you and make thoughtful comments about what that person has said
- Watching for visual cues from your audience – look for signs of restlessness or boredom, and adjust your speech accordingly to maintain their interest
- Adjusting your body language if you’re speaking to a group – look relaxed and open, not stiff, and use gestures that silently underline what you’re saying
Companies Often Fall into the Business Jargon Trap
Many organizations fall into the trap of using business jargon to make themselves sound more sophisticated and to appeal to a certain audience. However, this practice often backfires, especially when a potential customer is thinking of doing business with that company.
For instance, I’ve seen some organizational websites where the language used was so confusing that I had very little idea of what goods or services the company provided. If your customers are left wondering what it is you do after seeing your website, they may consider going to your competitor instead.
Business Storytelling Makes Your Message More Memorable
In her book, “Ignite: Real Leadership, Real Talk, Real Results,” Gabrielle Dolan, an Australian communications expert and thought leader in business storytelling, notes that telling a business story can be an extremely effective form of communication. In a presentation to a group of potential clients, for example, telling a memorable story allows your audience to see the human side of your business and to build an emotional connection that is the foundation to building a long-term relationship.
Practicing Your Communication Skills
There are various ways you can improve your writing and your oral communication skills. For instance, the next time you write an email or a white paper, be sure to review it for clarity and conciseness.
Also, don’t forget to check your work for proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling, so that your writing doesn’t appear sloppy and unprofessional. Do not rely on the spell-checker function to catch all of your errors.
For your oral communication skills, practice talking to other people and get their feedback. For example, if you have a speech to give, do a practice session at home with a friend and get that person’s feedback on your message and your body language. Another option is to record your speech with your smartphone’s video camera and review your performance afterward.
In addition, there are various organizations such as Toastmasters International that can help you build your verbal communication skills.
Developing your communication skills takes practice. But over time, they will make you a more effective and productive worker.