The Graduate Coach Pick of the Top 5 Ted Talks to Develop Your Communication Skills

Oct 20, 2016

While you can get help to look good on your CV, there’s no hiding place for your communication skills during a job interview

Continuing our series on the Top 5 Ted Talks on soft skills, in this post we’re looking at communication skills. Soft skills are personal abilities that allow us to interact effectively with other people. The ability to communicate clearly and creatively is a soft skill that is highly valued by employers as it demonstrates that you can work well in a team, express yourself fluently (both orally and in writing) and originally, listen, reason and reach out to others.

So how can you develop the type of communication skills that would impress a potential employer? Find inspiration from our ‘Top 5 TED Talks on Communication Skills’.

Chris Bliss: Comedy is Translation

Chris Bliss studied Comparative Literature at college and is adept at appreciating the beauty, concision and effectiveness of language. He is particularly interested in communicating ideas to others; this is what makes him tick. Funnily enough, the ultimate means of communication that he has found is comedy. Bliss goes on to talk about ‘the unique ability that the best comedy and satire has at circumventing our ingrained perspectives’. He wants communication to not only lead to greater understanding but to create real change in people.

By approaching topics that can potentially cause stress and anger (e.g. politics and religion) through comedy, Bliss is able to create a much more pleasant response – laughter – while the serious matters are still being considered. Humour is indeed a powerful tool though must be used with discerning subtly in a professional capacity.


Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better

Listening is the mental process of extraction. Julian Treasure explains that 60% of our communication time is spent on listening, but we’re not very good at it; we retain just 25 % of what we hear!

Treasure believes we are losing our ability to listen because we have developed so many ways of recording information – from books to audio and video recording. We are also impatient now. We don’t want to enjoy great speeches; we require sound bites instead. And the art of conversation is being replaced by personal broadcasting. We’re losing our ability to appreciate subtle language; instead, messages need to be bold and attention-grabbing.

So Treasure shares with us 5 simple exercises that can help us regain our listening skills, from enjoying silence each day to tuning in to our surroundings to see how many voices/sounds we can hear.


Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

Seth Godin considers how ideas can be marketed in the digital age. He makes the point that no matter how good or bad your ideas and innovations may be, the ones that spread the furthest are the ones that will be the most successful.

TV was always a good way to advertise ideas and products in the past. However, today, when people are busy, overstretched and surrounded by too many choices, TV advertising doesn’t work as well. These days, the only way to be noticed is to be different. This means that originality is the key.

Appealing to niche markets seems to be the way forward, rather than marketing at the mainstream. Communicating with those who like new ideas and trying out new things is the best approach. You should discover who cares about your idea or product, then target these people specifically.


Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

After interviewing many, many people about the pros and cons of electronic communication – i.e. ‘our plugged-in lives’ – Sherry Turkle has reached the conclusion that we are allowing technology to rule our lives. She believes that the electronic devices we carry around with us not only change how we act, they change who we are. She has discovered that people text and email during important meetings, lessons and in the midst of significant social gatherings. We remove ourselves emotionally from situations by reaching for our mobile phones.

This mode of behaviour may cause problems in relationships. It may also harm the way in which we reflect on ourselves as people.

Turkle says that electronic relationships are seen as being easier to control and manage than real-life relationships. Through texting and emailing we can present ourselves as we want to be seen; we can edit how we come across. But face-to-face relationships aren’t like that. We have to work at them. Therefore, we need to practise our human relationships and develop our powers of verbal communication.

Kate Hartman: The art of wearable communication

Kate Hartman is an artist, a technologist and an educator. She’s fascinated by the ways in which people communicate with themselves, with others and with their environment. She is particularly interested in wearable electronics.

Playfully, Hartman toys with ideas such as the ‘Muttering Hat’ and the ‘Talk to Yourself Hat’ because she’s interested in the ways in which people can be transformed by wearing devices, and she’s intrigued by new means of expression and communication.

Mixing fantasy with thought-provoking reality, this TED Talk will entertain, challenge and inspire you to move your communication out of its box.

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