Tips & Gifs: Developing Communication Skills

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Communication takes many forms. Though we use it daily in our normal lives, it can be productive to actively practice. Here are three ways you can hone this skill during the home stretch of break.

Post on LinkedIn or Medium.

Every time you post on LinkedIn by clicking the “Write an article” button on your homepage, all of your connections see it. Those odds are way better than those of other social media platforms with algorithms controlling their newsfeeds.

Wondering what to write? LinkedIn members usually stick to industry news, career advice, or life/journey reflections (here’s one by SEC Technology & Marketing Fellow Abby Seethoff ’16). Use your own voice, but stay professional. Posts of at least three paragraphs work well.

If you’re leaning more toward expressing political opinions, ruminating on art, writing fiction, or creating content about lifestyle, Medium is a great platform for publishing online as well.

Reach out to possible mentors.

Mentors come in many forms–they can guide you professionally, personally, or emotionally, depending on your needs. While a formalized relationship requires more commitment, it also can reap more significant rewards for both the mentor and the mentee.

To identify potential mentors, think of people in your life whom you look up to and with whom you already have at least a brief connection. Ask yourself what you hope to gain from a mentoring relationship. Whoever sits at the nexus of your admiration and your goals could be a viable candidate; the next step is to locate their contact information.

When you reach out, explain why you respect them and what you think they could help you with. Describe the kind of feedback you seek and offer a specific time commitment. Would you meet once a month? Talk on the phone every other week? Email twice a semester? It’s important to set expectations so that both people know what they’re agreeing to. Whether you propose remote or in-person communication, keep your tone polite and understanding: you’re requesting their time, not demanding it.

Seize opportunities to speak in front of other people.

If you’re signed up for the Whitman Undergrad Conference or the Power & Privilege Symposium, you’ve already made headway on this one.  But there are other ways to practice presenting: try making an appointment with a Speaking Fellow at the COWS (Center fOr Writing and Speaking) before your next in-class presentation or consider auditioning for the One Acts at Harper Joy Theater. Because there are multiple simultaneous productions, less experienced actors have a higher chance of being cast. Furthermore, you can schedule a practice interview with the SEC by calling the office at 509-527-5183 or emailing sec_info@whitman.edu.

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