Communication is arguably the most important factor to success in the contemporary economy. What do business students need to know about successful communication in the workplace? Mihaylo Advisory Council member Zack Swire and CSUF Business Communications Professor Jodi Jewell share tips from the pros for being a successful business communicator.
New technologies and an increasingly diverse workplace have made communication the lifeblood of the professional world. Regardless of industry, the career outlook favors those who can communicate well through oral, written and technological mediums.
Zack Swire is a member of Mihaylo’s Marketing Advisory Council and president and CEO of eGood, a Glendora-based social responsibility advertising agency, and Jodi Jewell is a Mihaylo business communications professor. These two pros share some of their best tips on how to communicate more effectively.
Zack Swire on Becoming an All-Around Communicator
Business communication courses are the best way to master the fundamentals. Swire says they are vital in developing communication skills. “Classes are certainly helpful as they provide a foundational element for effective communication,” he says. Swire has advised professors on incorporating new technologies to their coursework, including social posts, LinkedIn profiles, video chats and more. This has ensured that CSUF courses are accurately representing the contemporary business world.
The classroom is only the start of becoming an all-around communicator. “As an employer, I love to see applicants who have utilized the skills taught in class and have taken further steps to polish their skills,” Swire says. Students can further develop their skills through on-campus clubs, consulting with Mihaylo Career Services or the campus-wide Career Center, asking for tips from the helpful staff at the Writing Lab at the Pollak Library and using personal initiative to learn more and practice.
Having a professor or a fellow student or colleague review communications can be crucial. “You would be surprised how many résumés and emails I have received with simple mistakes that could have been easily corrected by having one person review and provide feedback,” Swire says. Rewriting and editing can be a tedious task, but it pays huge dividends in courses and the real world.
The digital age has brought us a constant stream of new communication channels, including email, IM, blogs and social media. This leaves the average person trying to play catch up. “The way we communicate is continually evolving. You cannot learn one way to communicate and expect to be effective today,” Swire says. Staying current with new technology is invaluable, yet Swire also recommends brushing up on the basics. He recommends Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, as a good place to start.
Gems from Jodi Jewell
Jewell, who teaches professional communication at Mihaylo, stresses the importance of making written communications concise. No one wants to read through pages of writing to learn the date of a meeting or a new corporate policy, for example. Students should focus on how to create concise yet thorough business reports to communicate effectively in the professional world.
She also suggests that communicators be selective about using PowerPoint presentations. While the Microsoft program has revolutionized the business meeting, it has been overused and should not be a substitute for regular face-to-face and written communication. Presenters that wish to avoid the PowerPoint format might want to consider using Prezi or Keynote as alternatives, adding vitality to their presentations.
Honing communication skills may not be high on the agendas of most business students, yet with tenacity and commitment, developing communication skills will make inroads into the academic and professional worlds, improving employability and income potential as a result. To learn more, take a course in business communication, buy or rent a textbook on the subject (if you are not in a class, you might consider buying last year’s texts for as little as $1 online or at a second-hand shop), and build your on- and off-campus network.