By Tan Yi Min and Lim Yik Shuan
The Centre for Languages at Han Chiang University College of Communication (HCUC) conducted an online workshop, titled “Communication and Conversational Skills” on Friday, 18 June 2021. The workshop was held via Google Meet from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. The trainers were seasoned English Language lecturers, Dr Josephine Chan and Mr Prakash Velloo. Participants were staff of J & T Express, who consisted of sales executives, branch supervisors, sales and area managers, call centre leaders and finance administrators.
The objectives of the training session were to equip the participants with essential skills of speaking and writing at the workplace. The session covered basic conversational skills, telephone skills, problem solving and customer service skills, emails, and public speaking. Mr Prakash Velloo discussed the communication process, the steps towards making a great first impression, and the art of communication. Meanwhile, Dr Josephine Chan explored the topics of communication breakdowns, active listening and asking effective questions, telephone etiquette and effective emails.
The first half of the workshop entailed a discussion of the communication process by Mr Prakash Velloo. Mr Prakash emphasised adequate preparation in the process of crafting and delivering an effective speech. According to him, clear and confident delivery is key in ensuring that the message is conveyed successfully to the listener. Besides, the delivery of a speech also includes non-verbal communication, where strategic use of tone, gestures and facial expressions shape the quality of the speech.
“Providing good customer service is also about adopting good pronunciation with the appropriate pitch, intonation and loudness,” said Mr Prakash.
The lecturer of Public Speaking and English Pronunciation added that the listener also plays a crucial role in the communication process. The listener provides feedback for the adjustment of the speaker who fine-tunes his/her delivery of customer service.
Dr Josephine Chan led the afternoon session with a focus on communication breakdowns, the approaches of effective communication, active listening and business telephone skills. Misunderstanding of the topic, a lack of communication, or a generation gap hinders the message from being conveyed successfully. Adopting approaches for effective communication includes accepting differences in viewpoints, creating a conducive environment for good conversations or discussions, using simple language and employing the right communication channel. Active listening, meanwhile, consists of giving attention to the speaker, paraphrasing, clarifying and summarizing the main points the speaker has made.
“As the customer, it can be disturbing when I am speaking and there is total silence on the line. Give verbal cues to show that you are listening to the customer.” Dr Josephine quipped.
Business telephone skills combine both effective communication and active listening, all of which are employed in the confirmation of customer details, accountability for problems highlighted by customers, reassurance and offering solutions.
Dr Josephine also demonstrated the steps of writing email messages. The lecturer of Business Communication highlighted the need to identify the purpose of the email, the role of the reader, and the importance of being concise and clear. Proofread emails to ensure accurate grammar and spelling before sending them to the recipient. Dr Josephine discussed the format and structure of an email which includes the subject line, salutation, body, closing and signature.
“Communication works for those who work at it”. These are the famous words uttered by John Powell, best known for composing the beautiful scores of animated classics like Chicken Run (2000) and the How to Train Your Dragon Trilogy (2010-2019). The corporate training was informative as it tackled a topic that is commonly discussed yet difficult to put into practice. Communication requires work, and good communication is a work-in-progress.