What are the ingredients that make up a top employee? A positive attitude, attention to detail, and organization skills are certainly useful traits.
The one skill that elevates an employee the most, though: effective verbal communication.
For those of us still in school, it may seem like the office is the ideal place to learn the ropes of strong speech. But you need to have developed that skill before you get to the real world. By flexing those articulator muscles in class, you’ll start to hone your communication skills.
Here are three familiar classroom communication scenarios… and how you can use those experiences to excel in your early career:
Speak Up in Class
An easy technique that will pay off in the future, speaking up in class is one way to familiarize yourself with leaning in. Presumably, the classroom is a place that is nonthreatening and comfortable. Think of this as home court advantage–you have nothing to lose, so try and make a habit of talking in class. If you have an interesting point, make it. If you have a question, ask it. Participate in all of your classes, even the ones where you don’t know the material as well.
Conditioning yourself now to add to the discussion will serve you well in future meetings with co-workers, with clients, and with upper management. By learning to speak with different groups of people about different topics in class, a board room will look like a manageable trail up a hill instead of a mountain.
Turn a Class Into a Networking Opportunity
There’s always one class where you don’t know anyone. Instead of taking a seat in the back and texting the friends you wish were there, introduce yourself to the people around you and get to know them better.
Not only will this make future classes less awkward, but it’s a good professional skill that will transfer well to the workplace. Meeting new colleagues, networking, and the office Christmas party will all be easier to handle if you take a step or two out of your comfort zone now and be social with the new faces in class. They say it’s harder to make friends as we get older. Avoid making that a trend in your life and say hello–you never know where it will lead.
Don’t Be Afraid to Approach Your Professor
When things are confusing in class, it’s tempting to wait it out and hope that all will eventually become clear (hint: that doesn’t usually work). Other times, papers or assignments are so jumbled that there’s no telling how to get started on the right path. Unfortunately, even with the nicest professors, some students feel intimidated by seeing a teacher outside of class and asking for clarification. Office hours aren’t there to make you feel inadequate or scared, but sometimes that’s how they’re painted. Yes, it may be a little awkward, and yes, you may feel silly for asking questions, but it will be worth it.
Getting used to talking to professors outside of class when you need help is strange at first, but ultimately beneficial. In your work life, you’ll need to be comfortable enough with your supervisor to ask for clarification when you need it. Unlike school, your work assignments don’t just apply to you, they apply to the whole company. Take a deep breath and seek out answers to your questions to make sure that your best (and most informed) effort is front and center!
Quality communication skills in the classroom provides valuable experience in the workplace. Articulate, network and communicate well while in college, and see how well that skill carries you into your career!
Do you have any advice for communicating well in the workplace? Please share in the comments!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League!
About the Author: Rachel Wendte is a recent graduate of Butler University where she received her B.S. in Arts Administration. She is on an endless search for the next book to read, the next latte to drink, and the next cupcake to eat. Any suggestions, please send them along! Follow Rachel on Twitter!