We Need Better Communication Skills – A Slight Rant


I teach speech at the community college level.
I read business books.
I speak to business groups.

Can I just have the ear of some business leaders for a minute, please.

In one of my classes, a student is taking my Public Speaking course in between finishing his B.S. and starting his Masters program. In his undergraduate program, there were no speech classes offered. Read that last sentence carefully. There were no speech classes offered. We’re not even dealing with a “required” class, but simply offering the opportunity.

Yes, he got his degree from one of those STEM focused universities.

I sort of understand the STEM folks (Science; Technology; Engineering; Math). They don’t want to be bothered by communication classes; such classes are too “soft skills” focused for their taste. They’ve got “real” subjects to study, after all. (I told you – this is a slight rant).

So, we end up with a bunch of degreed people, well-educated, except maybe not all that able to communicate.

This student is taking my summer Public Speaking class because his Masters program requires it. Good for them!

Here’s my observation. We are increasingly surrounded by people with great, yet narrow skill-sets. They may not have enough “liberal arts” understanding to build needed bridges to others – especially the non-STEM folks.

And, as a result, their peers, and their customers (especially their customers) may not quite grasp what it is they have to offer.

I think that every person, in any and every business endeavor, needs to be able to stand in front of a group, and translate jargon and techie vocabulary into every-day English for the non-initiate.

Bestowing a degree to a person with no training in Public Speaking really does seem like a big, big mistake to me.

Okay – slight rant over…

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