In Mr. Bob Layne’s first segment of his speech, he informs us of the first step of PTA we must take to become professional communicators: Process. Research, preparation, and presentation skills are very important qualities that employers are looking for. Below is an excerpt from Mr. Layne’s presentation at WKU.
This brings us to the T of PTA and that’s “Tools.” We could certainly spend a lot of time here, but I’m going to suggest considering three broad categories of skills to make sure you have in your tool box when you leave Western.
The first is a solid “Fund of knowledge” – what does that mean? As a professional communicator, you are most valuable to your employer when you are an outstanding conversationalist. One way to become an outstanding conversationalist is to have a large fund of knowledge.
Remember all those colonnade classes you took—or the ones you have been putting off because you think they are a lame waste of your time? These are the “I’m a communication major—why in the world do I have to take this? Courses. Who cares about art appreciation? Who cares about meteorology? Who cares about New Media Literacy? After all, I’m a communication major!
Well, whether you realize or not, as a professional communicator, you care! At least you should. In fact, you should be busy gaining as much basic knowledge about as many topics as you can. When you can relate to someone on a topic they care about, you are
90% the way there to establishing a relationship; professionally, that matters!
Barclays/Top Gear/Corvette, for example . . .
I didn’t have to know all there is to know about corvettes. I didn’t have to know all there is to know about British television. But because my fund of knowledge included at least some information about these two topics, I was able to use that to create a relationship which helped Barclays feel better about working with a company that was based on another continent.
The next skill you need is a mastery of the Language. As a professional communicator, it is not okay to say, “I’m not good at grammar.” In addition to grammatical precision, you need to be intellectually curious about all aspects of the English language. From the correct pronunciation of words to the origins and meanings of colloquialisms. I cannot stress this enough.
The final skill category I will mention tonight is Effective writing. I can tell you that this is among the most important skills to master and probably the most underestimated in terms of its important. When I was at Western I took quite a few writing courses, both in the Comm curriculum as well as through the English and Psychology departments. When I left Western, I thought I was a good writer. Until I got to law school a couple of years later. It was then that I realized how much more I needed to improve and wished I had taken more writing courses at Western and wished I had put more time into the courses I did take. I was fortunate that I had some great professors in law school who helped me continue to build my writing skills. That helped me land the Editor-in-Chief role of my law school’s International Law Review and helped me develop a professional writing career which has resulted in my ghostwriting 12 books and hundreds of other projects. And I can tell you, I am still improving my writing every day.
Please, take this seriously. Take advantage of the writing opportunities that you have here at Western and ask your professors for any help they are willing to give you to become a better writer.
We have discussed the “Process” and now the “Tools” needed to be an effective communicator. Stay tuned to learn the “A” of Mr. Layne’s “PTA” steps for becoming attractive to employers!