As I gear up for another school year, I am reminded of all the details that go into preparing for a successful round of student employee training. The first day of classes is just more than a week away, and I am putting the final touches on training sessions, confirming food orders with catering, and double checking our reservation for an off-site ropes course. A few of these tasks have been conducted via email, but most of them require a phone call. And all of them will depend on my oral communication skills to be completed.
Imagine if I trained our building managers without my oral communication skills. What if when they showed up on Day 1, I had them read the student employee manual or view a PowerPoint containing only written words, and then proceeded to give them a written test? There is nothing wrong with having them read, but if that was the only way they were trained, there would probably be a number of them who would not fully understand their role. How effective would that kind of training be? There would likely be some who loved that learning style, while others would quickly get bored and lose interest. By verbally presenting information about how to do the building manager job and engaging the students, along with interactive training sessions, the students gain a fuller understanding of the many details of their job.
On the whole, the nature of our jobs in the college union requires us to communicate with any number of students, faculty, staff, or community members on a daily basis. We typically do so by speaking to them and not simply sending emails. Whether meeting one on one with another informally or giving a presentation to a group, we rely on oral communication to convey our thoughts and ideas.
Overseeing the daily operation of the Campus Center often means my first interactions of the day are a verbal check in with student staff and our maintainer and rarely do we exchange a phone call before I’m in the office. All day, I use my oral communication skills to communicate with various colleagues whose offices are housed in the Campus Center. I speak to students throughout the day, giving updates to setup changes or relaying how to find a space. How surprised would they be if I simply handed them a set of written instructions for how to get around the Campus Center?
According to the skill set of oral communication outlined in the core competency of communication, there are several skills and abilities required to be successful in oral communication and such situations call for me to have:
- Ability to use tools and techniques to orally and visually communicate ideas, results, issues, and recommendations in a clear, concise manner appropriate for the given audience
- Proficiency to provide concise summaries and speak clearly so others can hear and understand what is said
- Skill to utilize technology to enhance oral communication (e.g., use of the Internet, PowerPoint, public address systems, etc.)
Even though I rely on my oral communication skills, I know I am not 100 percent in all areas. Depending on the subject, my presentation skills can use some work, and although I love using technology, I know there are times when sending an email isn’t the answer.
What oral communication skills challenge you in your day-to-day role? Which skills do you use well?
is the Assistant Director, Rondileau Campus Center at Bridgewater State University.
She oversees the operations of the RCC and is responsible for the building manager staff, along with the marketing arm of the Campus Center including the blog, design and video team. She has been an active member of ACUI for 7 years and enjoys serving on both the regional and international level.