I want to shout this from the rooftops!
The National Association of Colleges and Employers does a survey of employers each year, asking the most important skills they want from new candidates. They make this information available to colleges so colleges can teach those skills.
Here’s what NACE announced on February 24, 2016 (just a year ago):
When asked to assess candidate skills/qualities, employers rated verbal communication skills the most important, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 report.
Employers rated verbal communication skills (4.63 on a five-point scale) highest this year, above teamwork (4.62) and the ability to make decisions and solve problems (4.49), the two skills that tied for the top spot last year.
Although the results were different the previous year, the verbal communications skill has been #1 several times in the past.
How can this be?
How is it that verbal communications rates over teamwork, decision-making and problem solving, planning/organizing/prioritizing, several types of technical knowledge, and the ability to sell or influence?
Because communication is important for all of the other skills.
And because employers are not seeing good verbal communication skills in their candidates. Believe me, if they saw great verbal communication skills, they would be worrying about something else.
How does this happen?
Colleges do a poor job of training students in oral communications.
Professors give a poor example for students when they teach.
Employers do little to train their own employees in verbal communications.
Why colleges do a poor job of teaching oral communications
It’s strange because colleges have Communications courses that are often mandatory for all students. And Business Departments often have their own Communications courses. They try. And I know some Communications professors who are doing a great job.
But that’s just one course and then students unlearn everything in the rest of their courses.
They give presentations throughout college with little or wrong feedback on the verbal communication part of the presentation. That’s because the professor is interested mainly in the content.
Students see professors using PowerPoint as a teleprompter with little engagement except for answering questions. Some professors just read from their slides.
In the working world, most presentations are persuasive or have a persuasive component. Academics shun this and so this skill is not covered. One Communications teacher I spoke to actually had an exercise on persuasive presentations and told the students to be sure to cover the opposite point of view!
Some suggested solutions
Universities need to train professors to present more effectively. Oh, how happy the students will be!
Universities need to offer intensive verbal skills training in a student’s senior year as a preparation for transferring to the working world.
Companies need to train their employees in verbal communication skills.
About companies training their employees…
For certain employees, top-level presentations skills are CRUCIAL:
- Executives who present to managers, shareholders, and important customers
- Manager who present to executives
- Sales professionals
In all these cases, presentation skills are necessary for the success of the organization. These presenters must be able to:
- Present clearly, powerfully, persuasively and professionally
- Engage the audience and move them to action
If you want training for yourself or your team, look over my training opportunities here.
It just seems obvious to me
How about you? Leave a comment! And please share using the Share buttons so others can join in and contribute.