Use It or Lose it! Speaking Skills in the Digital Universe

Guest Blogger: Lorraine Howell, TMMBA Instructor of Professional Communications

The more we are connected electronically, it seems the less we have to say to each other, at least in person! That’s my non-scientific observation, based on what I hear from people I work with and the people I meet in business settings. With so many communication tools available, people still struggle with their old fashioned verbal communication skills, whether it’s public speaking, networking, or other business conversations.

 However, after teaching TMMBA students during Winter Quarter I’m encouraged and very excited by how many of them wanted more opportunity to practice the skills and strategies they are learning in our new Professional Communications course. There will be more opportunities to practice and get feedback throughout the TMMBA Program.

There are other ways to work on your speaking skills. Consider looking for every opportunity to present at work or in any volunteer activities. Run meetings as often as possible. Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues or friends. As you build skills work on one or two elements at time, like strong opens and closes or gestures and body language. Changes in behavior take time and practice, so take it easy and break it down into smaller goals. Another low cost option is join a Toastmaster’s group. That’s a great way to get regular practice and supportive feedback.

There is no question that communication is a fundamental skill for success as a leader in business. In fact, your skill as leader is dependent on your ability to persuade people to follow you or embrace your ideas and vision. TMMBA students will be taking a deeper dive into the art of persuasion as part of the Professional Communications course.

For now, observe effective communications skills in others, make progress with slow and steady small changes. Developing speaking skills is like a fitness program…use it, or lose it!!!

Lorraine Howell is an instructor in the UW Foster School of Business. After a 12 year career in television production, she started her own communications coaching and consulting company called Media Skills Training. Her book, Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift! is a step-by-step guide through her prove process for eliminating the verbal clutter and creating and engaging and memorable “elevator speech.”