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The Importance of Effective Communication For Grad Students

August 27, 2015
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By GradProSkills

components of effective communication

No matter which career path you pursue, it’s a fair bet you’ll have to present your thoughts to others, write a report on your work, and create meaningful professional relationships with others in your field. It should be little surprise, then, that communicating effectively is one of the most in-demand skills on the job market, according to Workopolis. The jobs site has released a report detailing which skills appeared the most in their job postings. 

The report found that: 

  • Over 60 per cent of Healthcare and Wellness jobs require good Communication Skills;
  • Almost half (47 per cent) of Technology & Digital Media jobs require good Communication Skills;
  • An equal number (47 per cent) of Sales & Business Development jobs request good Communication Skills;
  • 3 in 5 Marketing job ads ask for good Communication Skills;

How do you hone communications skills? As Workopolis notes, some you can pick up while on the job. Plus, some organizations offer training programs for entry-level employees. You can also consider some (or all) of these avenues to communicating effectively.

read, write & present workshop flyer

Got writing anxiety? Try blogging  

Social scientist Calvin Ho is big on blogging for grad students. In a post for the Thesis Whisperer, he explains how blogging has become a useful part of his academic practice. Ho will write something every day, whether that means "a page of a literature review, an explanation of [his] research questions, a few paragraphs on methodology, or even a blog post.” Not only will blogging every day hone your writing by virtue of repetition, it’s also a great way to practice craft effective arguments for an audience without extensive knowledge about what you’re researching.

With a little help from my friends

Putting words on the page is only one step of the writing process, but editing your own work can only take you so far. That’s why communities like thesis-writing support groups can be so helpful (including in keeping you sane). GradProSkills also offers an opportunity for group editing with the workshop Perfecting the Paragraph, where participants are asked to submit a single paragraph of their writing to be reviewed. 

A toast to public speaking

Since speaking publicly - at a conference, in class or in a meeting - is daunting for most, there are also several workshops focused on presentation and public speaking strategies: 

  • The Concordia Toastmasters Club has opened up space for graduate students to participate in up to four of their meetings. 
  • In the Graduate Presentation Skills Essentials workshop (part of our Graduate Read, Write & Present Workshop Series), participants learn how to build an effective presentation, field questions, and build confidence in their presentation abilities. 

Hi, my name is...

There are loads of resources online geared towards academics who hate networking but also want to effectively work the conference.

If you’re not plugged in to online academic communities, be sure to check out our two posts (here and here) on navigating the graduate student Twitterverse. 

And while we do offer workshops specifically oriented towards inter in an academic setting (see: Perfecting Your Research Pitch), you can also supplement those with tips on improving your general communications skills, like with this workshop on communicating effectively. Check our page for a list of all upcoming workshops.

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