Professional communication skills

I recently attended the ‘Communication in Business’ Skills for Success session given HSBC. Although I knew nothing about this topic before the session, I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of it afterwards. The talk started by discussing how to be an effective communicator, which boiled down to three main components: ethos – why you’re worth listening to; pathos – why people should listen to you; and logos – are you making sense. By breaking down your communication into these three parts, you can make sure it gets received properly. Business communication was also broken down into different levels: personal - which is one-to one and usually face to face; internal - which would be communication between departments of a company; and finally external - which is between a company and customers, or potential customers (i.e. advertising).

There were a number of group activities to show the limits of communication in a variety of contexts, and how it should be adapted for different levels. Firstly we were split into three groups and one member of each group was given a picture to describe, while the others had to relay this information to another group member, who would try to draw it. After 10 minutes, the drawings were checked against the originals and, universally, they weren’t fantastic…! This was meant to teach us to understand what we thought we could do, and what we thought we couldn’t, and the importance of time management. All the groups didn’t finish the picture and the presenter admitted it was a largely impossible task.

The second group task was a mock meeting, where each group member was given a role to play out, from CEO to branch staff. Discussion afterwards was about the difficulty of communication between people of vastly different authority in internal communication, and managing different personalities. The final task was analysis of an email that hypothetically could have been sent to all members of a company by the CEO. This was again about the difficulties of internal communication, where different people need to get different information. The presenter recommended breaking up the email into several different parts, each part mostly relevant for one group of people.

I found this talk very rewarding, and although I hadn’t really thought about how tricky communication could be in a business context, this gave me the idea that it is an absolutely essential skill to master. For more advice from HSBC you can follow their graduate blog:

Ed (Student Blogger)
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