Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Take this class if you want to get videotaped!

One of the best classes I have taken this semester is the X575 – Effective Communication class. A brand new course introduced for the first time this year, it is taught by Prof. Susan Vargo and it definitely exceeded my expectations. Since this is an experimental course, you will not find an official listing of the course syllabus under the Kelley Course Descriptions. So here is my perspective to help you decide if this course will be beneficial for you!

Per the Wall Street Journal Business School Rankings, superior “communication and interpersonal skills” has ranked as the #1 criterion that recruiters look for in candidates from the top Business School MBA Programs. And this communication course focuses precisely on helping you improve your oral presentation skills.

Through one-on-one meetings with each of the students that took the class, Prof. Vargo helped us understand what image we portray to the audience when we speak, disabusing us of any false perceptions we may have had in the past about ourselves. The best part about this course is that you get the opportunity to speak in front of your classmates in almost every class. You are videotaped every single time! Facing feedback from the audience and Prof. Vargo can be unnerving at times, but definitely invaluable. You can watch the uploaded videos and decide for yourself what went wrong, how you can improve, and work on your weaknesses the next time you walk up to speak. Some of the common mistakes that presenters make involve non-verbal communication - gestures, body language and eye contact.

Some of our assignments included introducing ourselves, narrating a compelling story, answering questions impromptu, and analyzing a management hot-seat video. My team mate Tye and I left the audience in splits with our video voice-over for the management hot-seat assignment. My final presentation yesterday was about Microsoft - an analysis of the company’s present public image and recommendations on what it can do to improve the image. A couple of students on my team – Katie, a member of the MBA Consumer Marketing Academy and Daniel, an MBA Finance Major - are bloggers too!

The best part about the course is that it helps you discover your strengths and weaknesses. And every time you walk up to speak, you will feel more comfortable until it seems almost natural by the time you are done with the course. Of course, communication skills cannot be learned in just seven weeks, but being aware is the first step toward becoming an exceptional speaker!

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