Communication is key…

Many employers these days state how one of the most crucial assets they note as missing in the recruiting talent pool is a strong set of communication skills, both written and oral. While many are very bright, driven and ambitious, coming from the culture of texting, instant messaging and email has left a lower appreciation for the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

To help combat this, the Simon School has instituted a series of mandatory courses for its students known as MGC, or Management Communications.

I was fortunate enough to participate as a judge in the recent marketing presentations for the entire first-year MBA class. Over the course of 10 weeks, students developed comprehensive marketing plans around a niche yogurt product, were tasked to develop a deck of slides and present to alumni judges portraying the client. Using the F.A.Ct. approach (Frame, Analyze, CommunicaTe), every student spoke at-length about their problem situation, clearly analyzed the market to highlight opportunity and communicated with ease. Students that are from the United States and abroad, with backgrounds ranging from finance to journalism, all participated.

Throughout the first three quarters of study, students work on written memos, grammar fine-tuning as it relates to business, drafting reports, presentations and case analyses, and continually presenting in front of an audience of peers or competition judges. With the pressure of a video camera for self-evaluation later, the improvement we see in students’ presentation abilities and the comfort to stand in front of others to defend their ideas is noticeable. These abilities are also augmented by the extracurricular activities of Toastmaster’s, a nationally known organization that encourages and refines the skills of public speaking, and W.A.T.S or World According to Simon, the quarterly review published by students on campus.

The first-year of communication courses culminates in a class-wide formal case competition. Student teams are given a confidential case 24 hours in advance of the time they are expected to present. After presenting, the entire class is treated to a formal banquet and awards ceremony for the most impressive group as rated by groups of judges. The winning group proudly takes their trophy with them to the following year and beyond – here’s hoping that you win one yourself, and have it to bring to the boardroom when you’re presenting to the CEO!

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