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Communication skills

Communication is the ability to convey or share ideas and feelings effectively – whether in verbal or written format. It is a critical set of skills to master for all business professionals. It is a vast topic and is really a collection of skills and abilities rather than just one skill!

What is it?

It covers a wide range of areas from having a well-written CV, presenting effectively in front of a group, writing a business proposal for a client, speaking with colleagues at work, writing a business email, handling difficult conversations plus negotiating and sharing your ideas confidently and effectively with others in a discussion. It covers all this and much more.

Why is it so important?

  • It is a vital everyday skill
  • It is a key skill that is assessed at every level of the recruitment process
  • If you communicate poorly on your CV or job applications, you limit your chances of success 
  • Career progression – it’s an essential skill for anyone aiming at manager or leadership roles – you can’t progress with it!
  • Effective communicators get things done, they get results
  • Good communicators are highly valued in every area of a business – whether customer-facing or office-based.

What do business leaders say about it?

Here are some direct quotes from senior leaders and business professional from ICAEW.

"To be able to convey a message is also important because if you know the solution but you can’t convince the board that they need to go a certain way, then your input is useless." CFO, Middle East

"I thought the best accountants would be the ones with technically the best knowledge, but that’s a long way from the truth. You have to be able to communicate. People with the social skills do best in my job". Partner, UK

"If you can’t communicate then however good you are, you can only ever maintain a certain level". FD, South East Asia

When do I need to start?

The good news is that people who are effective communicators are increasingly in high-demand in all areas of a company – especially in any roles in the business, finance and accountancy sectors. These are all ‘people-focused businesses’ and the more that core functions are taken over by technology, the more important it will become to have good communication skills. It is a great way for you to add value to a company.

How do I get better at it?

There are plenty of opportunities to improve. Some may be better learnt in a classroom, some by practising, some by some self-analysis.

14 ways to improve your communication skills
Successful business people are able to communicate meaningfully. Discover 14 things you can do to improve your communication skills.

Public speaking
This short, free course from RIT will teach you tips to build confidence as a speaker. You’ll learn how to use simple tools and skills to prepare and deliver memorable presentations.

Written communication skills – grammar basics

Social media has become one of the main means of communication today, and it has greatly influenced the way we talk and write. Whilst being liberal with your use of grammar and spelling might help you to keep your tweets snappy, this style of writing should be kept to a minimum in a more formal environment.

Poor grammar, bad spelling and an insufficient command of written English can all get your application rejected from your dream job and affect your promotion prospects as your career develops. We’re here to offer you some support and help to refresh your memory of using proper written English. The BBC Skillswise website has excellent resources including explanations, worksheets, quizzes and more on topics including:

Effective two-way communication – essential in business

The effective exchange of information is essential in business. Good communication is two-way, and during the recruitment process you need to demonstrate you can listen as well as speak out. This article from Targetjobs.com in the UK, explains the importance of two-way communication and provides some useful examples to demonstrate these skills in your CV, at job interviews and during assessment centres.

How to communicate effectively

CABA, the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association, has produced some guidance for chartered accountants and ACA students – however, it is also just as valid for all those who are moving from being a student towards being a professional.

Communicating effectively – how to build relationships through writing and face-to-face
This short, free online course from RIT explains how to effectively communicate and build professional relationships through face-to-face, written, and non-verbal communication.

How to present with presence

A lot of people struggle with public speaking, however it’s a crucial element in becoming a future professional. Being able to effectively communicate through engaging presentations is really important to improve your ability to influence and motivate others. This article from Vital magazine gives some top tips on public speaking.

Visual presentation skills
This short free online course from R.I.T looks at how impactful images can enhance your presentation, communication and messaging to impress your audience.

Communication revolution

The development of good communication within businesses is essential as it is improves productivity, efficiency and convenience. Learn how technology is impacting on and evolving communication.

Preparing to network
This short, free online course from the University of Washington teaches you the basics of networking, why it is important and how to do it successfully while growing your social network and professional connections. It will help you identify the key qualities that you personally want to focus on developing.

Attending a networking event
This free, short online course from the University of Washington helps you to improve your ability to meet new people. You’ll learn how to:

  • give an ‘elevator pitch’ (speech) to introduce yourself to new people and to highlight your key qualities
  • make connections with people and use your skills to attend a networking event.

Using email for networking
This free, short online course from the University of Washington helps you improve your writing skills. See how to write effective emails including great subject lines, greetings, and closings. You’ll be more confident as you communicate for business, send messages, expand your network, and search for jobs in English.

Sharpen your business communications
This short free online course from the British University of Columbia shows you how to communicate effectively in a business setting: understand diverse audiences and build sound arguments.

Business writing
This six-week, free online course from Berkley, University of California, is an introduction to business and academic writing for English Language learners. It focuses on grammar, vocabulary, structure, editing and publication.