Timeless Communication Tips for New Grads from Guest Blogger, Marjorie Whittaker

A colleague of mine, who will be presenting at Northeastern University this  evening, sent me this posting. I told her it was too darn good to keep a secret. So I’m spreading the word. The advice applies to both experienced and newly minted grads. I hope you find this information useful and feel free to post comments in the comment section.


Communicating Successfully in the Business World

5 Tips for New Graduates

New graduates are faced with the challenge of adjusting their verbal and non-verbal communication style to meet the demands of the workplace. It is a transition that is made easier if you use common sense, and follow some simple guidelines.

  1. Speak the language of your boss

As recent students, you may be used to communicating almost exclusively through e-mail and text-messaging. You are undoubtedly proficient at effortlessly navigating through Facebook and Twitter. You are likely familiar with numerous other social networking sites. These are valuable skills and excellent tools for staying connected with your friends, as well as job-hunting. However, they may not be the best ways to communicate with your boss. If you manager is over thirty, he or she may prefer a communication style and approach to which you are unaccustomed. Your supervisor may prefer face-to-face communication over a steady stream of electronic messages.

Learn the policies for using Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and IM in your workplace. Understand the rules for surfing the net during work hours. Make sure you know how often, and through which modalities you are expected to convey necessary and appropriate information. For example, some companies prohibit the use of text messaging during meetings and presentations. If you generate frequent e-mails, or write for online publications, make sure you know the most effective format and style.

  1. Communicate like the educated and intelligent person that you are

Occasionally people feel a need to “dumb-down” their speech with stereotypical remarks and casual word choices to fit in, especially in unfamiliar or uncomfortable environments. However, you worked hard to earn your degree and you are now (or soon will be) a professional in a highly competitive business world. Be sure that your speech is grammatically correct and succinct. Use powerful words and language such as “I am confident,” and “I know,” instead of phrases like “I guess so,” or “I hope.” Refrain from excessive use of expressions like “okay,” “like,” and “ya know.” Avoid profanity and any comments that may be considered offensive in any way. Be careful not to litter your speech with empty interjections such as uh, um, etc. Instead, use brief pauses or delay strategies to organize your thoughts.

  1. Remember your non-verbal communication

In the workforce, public speaking will likely be a large part of your job. You may frequently be on the telephone, participating in face-to-face meetings with clients and customers, or conducting surveys and interviews. In addition, you may be providing project updates to team members, communicating in department briefings, participating in video conferences, or giving formal presentations in front of a large audience.

Regardless of what types of public speaking your position requires, your non-verbal communication is very important. Project confidence with your body posture (stand tall, don’t sway, hold your head erect). Gesture expressively and naturally to convey your message. Use appropriate eye contact to effectively convey honesty, interest and confidence. Make sure your facial expressions are consistent with your spoken messages.

  1. Speak clearly and effectively

Many young women have a tendency to end their sentences with a rising inflection – Valley Girl Syndrome. This speech pattern tends to be perceived by many as reflecting insecurity and inexperience. These are obviously not desirable traits as you are working your way up the corporate ladder.

An extremely rapid rate of speech may convey nervousness and will be difficult to understand. Make sure that you project your voice so it is loud enough for the situation and environment. Use varied intonation to sound interesting, persuasive, and passionate about your topic. Be sure your voice doesn’t trail off inaudibly at the end of your comments. For non-native speakers, slow down your speech by pausing and chunking information into phrases, emphasize key words, and reinforce your messages with written words, pictures or gestures. Seek professional training if your speech is distracting and/or detracts from the overall effectiveness of your communication.

  1. Know how to network

You may find yourself with many opportunities to network both within your company and beyond. Take advantage of these situations by being prepared ahead of time. Initiate the interaction by being the first to smile, extend your hand, and state your name. Have a few non-controversial topics in mind. Think of open ended questions about leisure interests, travel, entertainment, etc. Be aware of cultural differences regarding body language, eye contact, gestures and personal space. Be more concerned about being interested in others than self-promotion.

If you love what you do, and follow these simple guidelines, you are on your way to a rewarding and successful career. No matter what path you choose, effective communication is key.

Copyright 2010 – Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker

Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker

Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker is the founder and principal of The Whittaker Group, in Brookline, MA. An experienced speech-language pathologist, she brings over twenty-five years of expertise to her individualized, flexible, and comprehensive programs. She is known for her ability to bring out the best in her clients through her enthusiasm, creativity, and personal attention.

In addition to her own consulting business, where she provides individual coaching, group training and workshops, she is a member of the Performance Improvement Team at The Workforce Development Center at Bunker Hill Community College.

Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker and Lynda Katz Wilner formed ESL RULES in 2006. Through this joint business venture, they provide workshops, and produce and distribute their unique training materials for accent modification and communication training. Their products include: RULES (Rules for Using Linguistic Elements of Speech), Medically Speaking RULES, and RULES BY THE SOUND. Marjorie and Lynda’s philosophy of training underscores each of these publications, with an emphasis on the suprasegmental aspects of speech and communication.

Nonnative English speaking professionals in the business/financial, high-technology, education, legal, scientific, and medical professions, among others, seek Marjorie’s services to take their communication to the next level for career advancement and professional success.

For more information, please contact Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker at: wg@prospeech.com or at 617-818-3335. Visit her websites at:

www.prospeech.com and www.eslrules.com

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