Whether an unplanned and unpleasant background thought or the first step towards intricately detailed and focused career goals, at some stage, university students must all graduate and face the world of work and business.
But with recent financial and jobs crises, layered between the prospect of debt collection, many sense troubled times ahead. As a result of this, entrepreneurialism and innovation are experiencing an increase. More new workers are turning to their own business start-ups after leaving full time education than battle through intensely competitive graduate jobs and internship markets.
The business world has reported an alarming drop in the standards of written and business communications, possibly due the effects of spellcheckers and smartphone autocorrect. Perhaps it’s time learning, or having the opportunity to learn, business communications skills at university became a priority. These skills could provide students and graduates with impressive competitive advantages.
The importance of developing strong business communications skills
Knowing how to communicate, or gain an effective understanding of the complex world and language associated with business communications, is important and beneficial for aspiring professionals for numerous reasons.
Helping soon-to-be-graduates understand exactly what form of communications to use, why to use it and when, could make up for a lack of real-world knowledge and inexperience. It’ll also boost their employment chances and increase communications standards within the current business world. Aspects of communication such as deciding what tone to use in an email or letter would enable graduates to display maturity and competence, and obtain impressive personal advantages. But there are other wider uses for enhancing business communications skills across the board:
- Increased abilities to communicate effectively with clients. For example, through creating highly persuasive texts, delivering confident and authoritative reports, presentations and proposals, or composing clear and response-inducing emails.
- Representing yourself or your organisation in a capable and confident manner. Business communications form a professional impression which can be the deciding factor in securing a graduate job or gaining new business.
- Saving valuable time as a consequence of improving personal written skills. This also improves vocabulary, language range and comprehension.
- Being able to present successfully. Employers want someone who can explain structured ideas coherently, with a professional style and tone. This ability is beneficial both for written and spoken communication.
In addition to investing in written communications, teaching professional verbal and presentational skills at university will help complete the business communications package. The ability to project ideas or proposals with confidence and authority to a room is a vital skill – especially for entrepreneurs. After all, without proficient communications skills, it doesn’t matter what degree, or innovative ideas an individual has, unless they possess the skills to convey themselves confidently and be heard by an intrigued audience. How students write and speak, as well as what they write or say are equally as important in the eyes of potential employers or clients.
What skills should universities teach?
With the power to endow students and professionals with the skills to convince audiences of their capability (vital in the current jobs climate), universities could deliver great benefits both to graduates and to wider standards of business language and communication. But what particular skills and considerations specifically should higher educational establishments encourage and instil in students?
- Basic grammar and spelling improvement. In written communications, having impeccable and correct writing and form is necessary to present a strong and intelligent impression. Improving any communications (such as essays and dissertation standards before graduation!) should not just be a concern for literature and language students.
- Audience consideration. This is the base of all good communications, professional or other. Knowing to consider aspects such as content relevancy or use of an audience’s time, something business people tend to be short of , can be decisive in the success or failure of business communication.
- Simplicity and structure. Following audience consideration, busy professionals are likely to only listen to quick, clear requests. Keeping complex or detailed information concise and simple will improve business relationships, responses, successes, and communicative efficiency.
- Developing the correct tone. Dependent on the ability to judge situational relevancy, creating the correct professional tone is a difficult, yet basic and important consideration. Teaching students to develop their professional voice to be not overly friendly or too archaic and formal, is vital for future successful business writing.
- Creating good proofreading habits. Though spellcheckers go a long way, too often they miss finer or more detailed points. Encouraging careful proofreading and editing can ensure a lifetime of better writing and communications, in the business world and elsewhere.
Communications skills should be taught at university
If universities were to widely teach business communications skills as a compulsory module within all degrees, better rounded and talented graduates would be the result. Students would be better prepared for their post-graduate working life.
At the moment such courses are optional subjects of study. If universities made them compulsory, the increasing concerns surrounding poor business literacy could be solved, and new businesses professionals would have the ability to conduct themselves more efficiently through their communications. The graduate jobs market should also vastly benefit as students taking full advantage of business communications opportunities would have much improved chances, skills and enhanced understanding of the professional world. Being a better rounded graduate could give them the chance to advance in today’s poor and competitive job market, or even to discover the confidence to set up their own business successfully.
About the Author
Alastair is a freelance writer and has supplied this article for Communicaid, a communication skills consultancy which provides business writing courses.