BY ANTON LUCANUS
Communication skills are vital for a student’s academic success and future career prospects. In today’s challenging environment, students must not only possess academic expertise, but also the requisite skills to enhance their learning and employability prospects in the future.
Communication is a dynamic process as it involves an interaction between two or more people i.e. the sender and the receiver. The main purpose of communication is to transmit thoughts and beliefs to another person. The major components of communication are verbal communication or oral communication and non-verbal communication. Oral communication is the process of expressing ideas through the medium of speech and this plays a crucial role in the life of students.
Importance of Oral Communication for Students
An individual learns the basics of oral communication right at home. The school environment takes this learning a notch higher by teaching the student how to interact with peers and teachers alike. The quality of communication in student life will define professional communication later in life.
Good communication enables students to assimilate more from the learning process by empowering them to ask relevant questions and discuss doubts.
Effective verbal communication nurtures the process of socialization by facilitating new friendships and these in turn aid the learning process.
Productive communication is a boost to career development. An ability to convey thoughts in a clear and precise manner would help a student to make a favorable impression at an interview and get the job that he deserves.
Communication skills inculcate professionalism in speaking styles, ways of self-expression and attitudes towards others, and these traits would hold students in good stead in their professional lives.
Dynamics of Oral Communication
The hallmark of a good student communicator is that he has mastered the art of preparing, organizing and delivering successful oral presentations. Oral communication includes real-time presentations, video presentations and interviews, with accompanying visual aids such as handouts and power-points.
Message is the key to a good oral communication. The substance of the presentation should be relevant to the audience and goals of the presentation.
Self-awareness is the starting point of good oral communication. A person who is aware of his strengths and weaknesses can put in the required efforts to improve communication skills.
Confidence is another vital aspect of good communication. A person may know the subject and yet not communicate adequately if he lacks confidence.
Simplicity in messaging is indispensable for good communication as assimilation of the message is directly proportional to clarity of its presentation.
Awareness of the audience is an important tool in the hands of an effective oral communicator. A good communicator can guage the impact of the by observing the body language and feedback of the audience and adjust his approach accordingly.
Interaction is the path to effectiveness. A student oral communicator can keep the audience engaged by asking questions and soliciting opinions on the subject matter at hand. This would also help in fine tuning the message and style of presentation, based on the feedback received from the audience.
The tone of voice of the presenter carries a lot of weight in delivery of the message. A confident tone keeps the audience engaged, whereas a low and monotonous tone can be off-putting. Voice modulation can also be employed to highlight the key points in the presentation and retain the attention of the audience.
Body language is an important component of effective oral communication. The student should adopt a stable and confident posture, make appropriate gestures, avoid being fidgety and establish eye contact during the presentation.
Oral communication is not merely the ability to speak, but also the capacity to listen. A good communicator is one who is attuned to the audience and is able to calibrate his message accordingly. An aspiring oral communicator should be willing to acquire and hone his listening skills over a period of time.
The Path to Effective Oral Communication
Oral communication is an art that can be learnt and polished through reading, presentation skills and practice.
An oral communicator should have intellectual curiosity. Reading is a means to the development of good communication skills. A well-educated mind would be able to communicate better as content is the soul of the communication process. He should also possess an attitude of discussion and deliberation as this would improve intellectual capabilities and thereby contribute to effective communication.
Effective writing skills and good verbal communication skills go hand-in-hand although they may appear antithetical to a newbie. A student with good writing skills would alone be in a position to organize and present his thoughts in a structured manner; an exposure to the nitty-gritty of essay writing would be immensely beneficial in that regard.
The age-old dictum ‘Practice makes a person perfect’ makes perfect sense in the world of oral communication. The first impression is the best impression and many students fail this test due to a various impediments such as stage fright, lack of self-confidence and performance anxiety. A student can conquer his fears and master the art of oral communication by participating in many real and mock presentations, and speech-based activities.
Active participation in the community would transform a student into a good communicator by honing his linguistic abilities. Moreover, a leadership position in an academic setting would be an important asset on the CV of a student.
To conclude, a student willing to put his nose to the grindstone can indeed make a smooth transition from a tentative speaker to an effective and seasoned oral communicator.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to share the lessons learnt throughout his degree and to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life.