Oral Communication and Brussels Sprouts

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Brussels sprouts are rich in cancer-preventing antioxidants, contain robust quantities of vitamins, and are a reliable source of heart-healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  Despite this impressive bundle of benefits, Americans consume, on  average, less than one pound of brussels sprouts each year.
 
In case you don’t readily have a scale of ‘typical’ vegetable consumption in your mind, this is in stark contrast to the 8.6 and 11.1 pounds of corn and bell peppers Americans consume each year.  We even eat 5 times more celery than brussels sprouts, and that’s celery!
 
Given the refrain from school kids everywhere, I guess this statistic shouldn’t be surprising.  After all, young children shouldn’t be expected to make careful, health-minded decisions that are in their long-term best interest. Adults, on the other hand, probably should.
 
Why am I talking about brussels sprouts in a newsletter on oral communication?  Good question.
 
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities[1], 80% of executives and 90% of hiring managers cited ‘Oral Communication’ as an essential intellectual and practical skill.  In fact, oral communication topped the robust list and appeared ahead of such critical skills as analytic reasoning, complex problem solving, technological skills, and even information literacy.
 
Oral communication matters.  Of course it matters when delivering a keynote address at an industry conference or delivering a closing statement in the trial of the century, but oral communication also matters when you lead conference calls, participate in meetings, update collaborators, communicate with a boss or as the boss, and it matters in our everyday conversations with clients and co-workers.
 
Oral communication, like brussels sprouts, has a dizzying array of benefits.  We know that.  With the value of oral communication so well documented and appreciated, why don’t we purposefully develop this indispensable skill in ourselves and our teams?  Ultimately, oral communication is the business professional’s brussels sprout.
 
According to Dane Holmes, Head of Human Capital at Goldman Sachs, “Achieving our goals is not just about drive or ability; it’s also about knowing our weaknesses -- and addressing them.”
 
All told, it’s time to focus on oral communication.  Whether you tackle that challenge on your own or supercharge your professional development by working with an expert, a consistent investment in you or your team’s oral communication, like eating your brussels sprouts, will pay long-term dividends.

[1] https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/1KeyFindings.pdf

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