Learning communication skills online

Can you improve your career prospects in as little as 5 minutes? The IEEE Center for Leadership Excellence thinks you can. The organization recently teamed with the IEEE Professional Communication Society to offer a series of short webinars and podcasts on effective communication techniques.

“There are a lot of really good tips in these lessons, ” says Cheryl Sinauskas, director of IEEE Geographic Activities and manager of the leadership center, in Piscataway, N.J. “The society has provided great material in an informative, focused format. Being one of IEEE's oldest societies, it has a lot of really knowledgeable people who work on communicating effectively.”

The six 5-minute-long audio podcasts in the series deal with creating effective slide presentations, handling audience questions, writing business proposals, tackling typical grammar problems, writing effective e-mail, and designing accessible websites. In addition, three 40-minute how-to webinars (which include video) cover handling difficult conversations at work, giving informative and persuasive presentations, and decreasing workplace e-mail overload. Some of the podcasts and webinars also include online transcripts and related materials.

“These are all topics that members can immediately apply to their careers, in their IEEE volunteer activities, and even at home, ” Sinauskas says.

The training materials represent a new direction for the leadership center, which until now has focused mainly on teaching IEEE volunteers to better run their sections, chapters, and other areas they direct. Sinauskas says the materials all have the overarching goal of making IEEE members more effective in every aspect of their professional careers and volunteer roles. “There are a lot of elements in our library to help people not just run an organization but also to help them become more effective leaders.”

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