In a survey of over 300 businesses, 89% of employers stated that they want colleges to place more emphasis on oral and written communication. That was a higher percentage than any other skill, knowledge, or ability. This comes from the Association of American Colleges & Universities‘ LEAP initiative.
You can find the PDF of the results here.
Why are oral and written communication so important? By comparison, why would only 81% mention critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills? I think it’s because when a person communicates in a clear, comprehensive manner, many other skills (such as critical thinking and analytical reasoning) are required and included. The communication is the final output, but there are many inputs.
People at work judge you by how you communicate. And, as I often say when I give talks to students, employers don’t care much about how you write e-mails unless they’re pretty awful. And most employees don’t write long reports very often. Finally, employers don’t notice much about your one-to-one communication, since by definition that’s usually private. What they see is how you speak in a group. This is your public persona and it says a lot about you.
Of course, speaking in a group is just another way of saying “presentation skills.” Not all presentations involve standing up, PowerPoint, or a projector.
What are you doing to improve your presentation skills? What resources do you recommend to others? Have you found that improving your presentation skills has helped your career?