Skills for Success: Communication Skills

This session, run by IBM, was part presentation and part interactive workshop, and gave a very important and useful overview of what represents effective communication in today’s world.

First of all we were introduced to how communication has changed and is still changing in the modern world, and why that makes communication skills more important now than ever before, with concepts such as globalisation and information overload being touched upon.  An essential point that was mentioned, in relation to the international professional sphere, was the importance of understanding cultural context when considering your body language and hand gestures.

After this introduction we moved on to small group discussions on the topics of effective verbal and written communication, and what the barriers are to communicating well in these different ways, presenting our ideas back to rest of the room.  This activity got us thinking about and practising our communication skills, and showed me that most of us already know what good communication consists of, with workshops such as these being really helpful in reminding us of the most essential aspects.

Next we learnt about, and discussed, more specific forms of communication, for example how social media can be both a massive advantage and a huge danger when building up a professional network and reputation, and so how to use it wisely.  After some small group discussions and presentations on the advantages and disadvantages (plus do’s and don’ts!) of writing and sending emails, the presenters talked to us about communication in certain environments and situations.

I found this last section particularly interesting as it covered topics that I hadn’t learnt about in similar sessions that I had attended elsewhere, including graduate job interviews, chairing meetings, assessment centres and virtual teams.  I also think that it would have been extremely useful to any final year student, to whom this information and advice would be relevant now and in the near future.

The session ended with some top tips, a summing up of the main learning points, and finally information on some of the opportunities that IBM has to offer to students and graduates.  Overall I found the afternoon to be a good refresher of general communication skills, and a helpful introduction to some more specific areas of the topic.

Kathryn (Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities)
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