Communication Skills

The ability to express ideas effectively both verbally and in writing, in individual and group situations, adjusting language, terminology and non verbal communication in a manner appropriate to the recipients, resulting in understanding and/or action

Behavioural indicators include:-

  • Select appropriate means of communicating (letter, report, meeting, phone, presentation, e-mail etc.)

Verbal Communication

  • Watch and listen attentively for the reactions and feelings being expressed by others in discussions
  • Present ideas in a clear, concise , organised, and persuasive manner.
  • Speak at an appropriate speed, volume, tone, and pitch.
  • Use words and phrases accurately.
  • Break down explanations of complex processes, rules, or situations into manageable "bites" of information.
  • Maintain good eye contact with all listeners.
  • Use appropriate non-verbal communications (gestures, posture, facial expression and mannerisms) to emphasise or clarify what is being said.
  • Clarify assumptions on which statements are based.
  • Make effective use of prepared visual materials (slides, overheads, videos, handouts).

Written Communication

  • Clearly identify the subject and state the purpose of the communication.
  • Develop a logical structure and present ideas in a logical sequence.
  • Write clearly and succinctly.
  • Provide a relevant conclusion or recommendation.

Some employers may also require a social confidence dimension indicated by the capacity to be relaxed in social situations.

Do I Have These Skills?

You'll need to be able to prove to employers that you actually have the skills they want for the job. In applications and interviews they will ask 'competency questions' that begin with phrases such as 'tell me a time when ............. ' or 'give me an example of .............. ' Your answers are the evidence that you have what it takes.

To find out how well developed your skills are already you could try this simple exercise:

Rate yourself on each of the behaviours:

  • 1 = I do this very well. I am consistent and successful in it
  • 2 = I am good at this. With some practice I can make it perfect!
  • 3 = I am getting better, but still need to work on this a bit more.
  • 4 = I am not particularly good at this - yet!

Revisit this exercise several times through your years of study - you'll want to have as many skills as possible at 1 and 2 before you apply for graduate jobs.

And, think about all the life situations you've been in - university, work, leisure, travel, social - and identify incidents and examples from them that show that you have already used the skill.