Effective communication is key, regardless of medium


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Even with digital platforms such as email, effective and professional communication is necessary.

By Parker Otto

With in-person classes being available at NIU this semester, it can be a simultaneously freeing and overwhelming experience to be back in the classroom. But one thing is clear. Whether you’re an experienced student or a newcomer to NIU, effective communication across a variety of mediums is important moving forward.

It’s easy to say that technology has enabled us to avoid face-to-face contact. Emails and text messages are incredibly common for short bursts of communication as opposed to phone calls. But just because we use these platforms doesn’t mean that our use of them can’t be improved. Writing emails and texts is a lot like writing essays. If they’re boring or grammatically incorrect, it’s going to reflect poorly on the writer.

The same can be said for verbal communication, whether it’s over the phone, on Zoom or in person. You can be the smartest person in any field but it will be difficult for people to take you seriously if you can’t properly express yourself. Being able to communicate is a necessity that more students must become adept at if they want to succeed in their academic studies, outside of school and following graduation. Fortunately, there are so many resources on campus and in the curriculum that can help students. 

One helpful source is the course COMS 100: Fundamentals of Oral Communication. This course helps NIU students craft different kinds of speeches, including biographical and persuasive speeches. It’s required of all NIU undergraduate students and is a valuable way to learn how to speak in front of others effectively. 

Another source available to all NIU students is the University Writing Center. Located on the second floor of the Founders Memorial Library, the Writing Center can help students with essays, blog posts, resumes or anything involving the written word. In order to receive help, students must make an appointment through the Writing Center’s website. 

In an appointment, a writing coach will talk to you about your writing and offer advice on how to improve your work, according to the Writing Center’s website. The best way to get better at writing is through writing consistently, but it’s also helpful to have another person take a look at your work through the eyes of both a reader and a fellow writer.

While college is primarily for the pursuit of higher learning, many students who attend NIU seek their degrees to achieve career success. For students wishing to improve their prospects, Career Services is essential. Located in the Campus Life Building, room 220, this center can help you with polishing a good resume, setting up a LinkedIn profile or with career advising through virtual appointments. 

But, in terms of communication, Career Services provides mock interviews so you can be able to impress those looking to hire. Whether it’s over the phone, through a Zoom call or an in-person interview, effectively expressing your interest in a job is just as important as crafting a resume or cover letter.

While in-person meetings have come back, using platforms like Zoom for meetings is well in the foreseeable future. As such, creating a more professional image for a virtual platform is important, so investing in a webcam, podcasting mic and effective light source like a ring light can make a massive difference in how you present yourself.

Being back on campus is absolutely wonderful, and I sincerely hope that in-person classes are here to stay. However, being able to communicate with others in a productive manner is a skill that we all must improve on.