Effective communication skills are central to success in a corporate environment. A business communication class provides core competencies to help students develop positive relationships in and out of the workplace. Learning how to listen to colleagues and clients, oral and written skills are key components of a business communication class. Activities bring theory and curriculum to life and enable students to practice their skills before entering the work world. The result allows students to communicate clearly and sell a product or idea efficiently.

It’s a Matter of Time

Understanding the importance of clear communication helps students know how to be high functioning in a business setting. Illustrate this by listing words about probability such as "always," "never," "probably" and "often" on a flip chart. Do the same for words about time such as "soon," "today," "tomorrow" and "right away." Discuss the meaning of each word by providing case studies for the class. For example, a supervisor asks an employee to create a report right away. Ask the class what that means to them. Similarly, an employee tells a colleague that the dress code is usually business casual. Discuss the implications of these types of words in a business setting and how clarifying messages and directions can enhance productivity.

Elevator Speeches

It isn’t uncommon to have a short period of time to make an impression in the business world. Learning how to communicate effectively and convincing a listener to buy in to your idea is paramount to success. Assign each student an item or idea to sell. Examples include life insurance, a new car, a financial investment or a charitable contribution. Ask students to write a one-minute elevator speech that sells their product. Encourage students to identify a problem, propose a solution, outline the target market and summarize the potential financial outcome within their speech. Put students into small groups and have them each deliver their one-minute speech.

Don’t Get Blogged Down

Using technology to communicate with prospective clients is an important skill in the corporate world. Students can see the value of effective communication, from a marketing perspective, when empowered to play the role of a marketer and a customer. Ask each student to select a service or product to sell. Give them four weeks to blog about their new business. Assign students four blogs to read and encourage them to write comments for the blogger. At the end of the month, facilitate a group discussion about how communication and technology can impact interest in a product. Be sure to discuss aspects of image and branding and how they connect to communication strategies.

The Listening Challenge

Developing listening skills is a critical factor in being a good communicator. Remaining engaged with a client during a meeting requires discipline and practice. Partner students and identify one partner as A and the other as B. Ask partner A to speak to B for five minutes about a topic of their choice. Partner B cannot speak during this part of the activity. Afterward, have Partner B reflect upon what A said. Switch roles and repeat the activity. Facilitate a discussion and ask how non-verbal communication affirms active listening, the difficulty of remaining focused as the listener during the conversation and the implications of becoming distracted in a business setting.