Public Speaking 101

Imagine being able to stand in front of any crowd at any time and know your audience understands you and your message perfectly. Well, most people have a long way to go before achieving that level of confidence in public speaking. Nobody enjoys the nervous anticipation that builds up right before having to speak in front of an audience or the thoughts that race through your mind: “What if I forget what I want to say?” “What if the audience doesn’t understand?” “What if my nerves get the best of me?” We have all experienced these fears when it comes to public speaking. Whether it’s in front of a small class, a large audience, or a room full of professionals, it can be daunting! Unfortunately, public speaking is a fear that must be overcome to be successful. Being able to present information to others is a very important skill to have in order to convey messages in a professional manner. Luckily, I am here for you! Keep reading for my guide to successful public speaking to discover tips to get over the pre-speech butterflies.

orange present1. Take a Deep Breath  We have all heard the classic line “picture everyone in their underwear.” It sounds silly, but if it works for you, then why not! Like I said, public speaking is scary, so first things first: take a deep breath. Calm yourself right before you begin by focusing on your material, not the audience. Remember, being nervous is normal! However, the goal is to convert nerves into positive energy. Find what works for you. Some people use the underwear strategy, others have motivational quotes they can refer to, or you can give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. If possible, get to the presentation room early and picture yourself giving your presentation. Walk around, check out the configuration and size of the space and get acquainted with the set-up. Try to get a goodnight’s rest the night before so you don’t oversleep and eat a good meal, that way you’ll be energized and ready to deliver an impactful message!

2. Develop Talking Points  Talking points are like a mental to-do list. They provide a quick way to stay on track and avoid going off on a tangent mid-presentation. To create a list of talking points, start by identifying your main message, then come up with a few points to support your message  A great way to do this is to consider the “rule of three.” The rule of three means structuring your talking points around the three most important ideas you want to highlight. Think of talking points as elevator pitches, they should be made up of keywords or short sentences. Don’t make them too long, as talking points are meant to be remembered at a quick glance. Providing specific examples that are personal and impactful will also support your talking points and be more memorable for you and the audience.

3. Express Excitement  If you’re enthusiastic throughout your presentation, your energy will transfer to your audience and they will be more likely to fully engage in what you have to say. Get excited about your topic through research and facts that you are eager to share with others. Share your passion by using inclusive language. For example instead of saying “I,” use “we” to integrate the audience into your ideas. You’re speaking to inform, persuade, and motivate. If you make your speech come alive, you will be more persuasive and motivational and, overall, a more interesting speaker.

speech picture

4. Master Body Language  Using your body and facial expressions while presenting can allow you to convey your message successfully and with confidence, if done right. Putting your hands in your pockets or fidgeting with them may display your nervousness and can be distracting to the audience. Try to keep your arms in front of you and emphasize words with hand gestures when making an important point. If information is attached to a movement, the audience will better remember it. Leg movement is also important to  control. Try not to move your legs restlessly as this gives away feeling nervous. Posture is very important. Stand up tall and confidently as if a string is connecting your head to the ceiling. This will make you appear much more professional than if you were to slouch. Making controlled, concise movements will convey that you are a natural presenter and will keep the audience more engaged, than if you were to stand in one position. Lastly, don’t forget to smile! Smiling will engage the audience, reduce your own nerves, and  make everyone involved more comfortable.

5. Practice Makes Perfect As Virginia Tech students, we are lucky to be surrounded by available resources to help improve our public speaking skills. Start by asking professors for feedback after a presentation. They will be more than happy to critique you and give advice or tips. Another excellent resource  on campus is the CommLab, located on the second floor of Newman Library. The CommLab has undergraduate and graduate students trained in public speaking and groupwork ready to coach students through the speech-making process from topic selection to speech delivery. Although appointments are highly encouraged, a visit to the CommLab could make all the difference in your presentation! There are also clubs that you can join that will help you develop public speaking skills. One is Toastmasters, a club operating worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication and public speaking skills. Toastmasters Blacksburg is open to anyone and meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 7:00 pm in the VT Language and Culture Institute, as well as the second and fourth Fridays of each month at 12:00 pm in Room 2034 of Newman Library. Although Toastmasters has a $20 membership fee, it offers another great way to improve your public speaking skills outside of a classroom setting, both here in Blacksburg and beyond. Finally, utilize your CWIB resources! Reach out to upperclassmen who have had more experience public speaking for advice or constructive criticism. Attend workshops relevant to presenting yourself in the best light in front of peers, professors, and future employers. If you’re still working up the courage to take advantage of these resources, another great way to build confidence is practicing in front of friends and family first.

 

 

The most important thing is to have confidence in yourself, if you don’t believe you can successfully public speak, then it will be much more challenging to improve. Constantly ask yourself “what can I do better?”. Self assessment following each presentation will help guide you in further growth. I hope this guide has put you in the right direction to learning how to become more confident in your public speaking skills as well as made you feel more prepared for upcoming presentations. Through practice and experience, it will slowly get easier and more natural. Good luck everyone!

By: Lindsay Barnes 

 

Gaining Confidence for Business Horizons

With Business Horizons quickly approaching, it is easy for those last minute nerves to creep up on you. We all experience them and know that they inhibit our confidence to present ourselves in the best light to possible employers. Read Emma’s advice for keeping the faith in yourself to successfully tackle Business Horizons!

Adhere to a nighttime and morning routine

It’s common to feel the need to stay up all night preparing your elevator pitch and deciding what to wear, but your body and mind need rest in order to perform to the best of your abilities. Be sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour so that your mind is clear for the next day. Lay out your professional attire so that it is ready to go in the morning. When you wake up, eat a good breakfast, practice your pitch one more time, and make sure you have your resume ready. Head to class just as usual and go about your typical day. When it comes time to make your way to Business Horizons, you won’t feel as overwhelmed as you would have if you spent the whole night cramming last minute information into your brain.

Read over company information 

Get an idea of what companies will be attending by reading over the list and researching those who sound interesting to you. Be aware of who is hiring based on your major, minor, or concentration. This will help narrow down who you spend your time talking to, rather than waiting in line for a company who, for example, doesn’t even offer an internship for the position you are seeking. I would suggest researching the culture and mission of two or three companies that are of serious interest to you. It is impressive to come prepared and know some background on the company, instead of simply selling yourself the entire time. Try to explain how your skills will align with the company’s vision. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions when something is confusing or you would like more insight on the topic at hand. Recruiters will see your passion for your work more so than if you nod your head and go along with everything they say. You will undoubtedly feel more confident by preparing for these conversations ahead of the event. Check out the Business Horizons website for more information on companies in attendance this year.

amazon_logoTarget Logoibm_logo

Refrain from comparing yourself to others

This is something I know I am very guilty of doing, but it is so important to remember that your individual accomplishments are, in fact, your own. Try to focus on all that you can bring to a job instead of worrying about how many internships everyone else has held or “cooler” experiences they have had. Every job, internship, class, you name it, prepares you for the next one! Most of the time companies want to see quality over quantity, so if you do not have as much corporate experience don’t worry! If you put a lot of hard work and effort into one or two positions, then companies will see you have the same experience, and maybe even more leadership qualities, over someone who may have worked for more businesses, but never progressed in said business. You are unique and talented; the right company and position will find you if you are willing to put in the time and dedication!

Utilize your support system

If your parents are anything like mine, they love hearing about how you’re doing. When something great happens or if I’m not feeling my best, I know they will always be there to provide guidance and support. If you find yourself stressed out, give your parents a call and talk with them about how they prepared for career fairs! I bet they will be more than happy to provide insight on helping you prepare for the workforce. Similarly, your best friends, significant other, CWIB mentor, or any others you hold a special relationship with, know you better than anyone else. Sometimes all it takes is hearing about the confidence these important people have in you for you to realize it in yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out, communicate your feelings, and work through your thought process with the people who know your strengths and weaknesses. I guarantee you’ll feel more confident in yourself after reflecting with those who never lack confidence in you.

Take advantage of your Clifton Strengths

Virginia Tech requires its students to take the Clifton Strengths Finder when they are freshmen. Initially, I thought this test would be like any other skills finder that I didn’t foresee predicting my true personal strengths, but I found that my results were extremely accurate of my personality and how I tackle situations. If you’ve taken this assessment, truly familiarize yourself with your strengths and determine how you can make these apparent when talking to companies at Business Horizons. I’ve had a boss tell me that once she realized how to include her individual strengths in interviews and elevator pitches, she was able to confidently sell herself since she truly believed in what she was saying. To use a personal example, my top strength is “Harmony.” I would incorporate this trait in my elevator pitch as to how I bring a collective and team-centered attitude to any goal we are trying to achieve. Since I have several anecdotes to back up this claim, recruiters will get a true sense of how I value relationship-building, and how I would prioritize this at their company. If you have not completed the Clifton Strengths Finder, you can search for the program through the Virginia Tech website and enter your PID and password to take the individualized test.

clifton strengths image

Reach out to your CWIB community

We are so fortunate to be members of an organization where women from all over Virginia Tech, not just Pamplin, can share their professional experiences and offer advice. Reach out to other CWIB members to see how they are preparing for Business Horizons. While it is crucial to refrain from comparing ourselves, we can still use each other to practice elevator pitches, hear about previous BH experiences, and even walk to the event together! I am always so empowered after hearing about how CWIB members have overcome obstacles and succeeded in their goals; it is reassuring to feel surrounded by like-minded women who are passionate about the same things you are.

CWIB Crest dark purple

I know Business Horizons can be intimidating, for newcomers and returners alike. Take advantage of these pieces of advice and I guarantee you will feel more confident in yourself. No matter how cliché it may sound, these recruiters are just people too. If you show your confidence in yourself, they will take you seriously and realize your potential. Good luck at Business Horizons CWIB!

 

Business Horizons will take place at Squires Student Center on September 5, 2019 from 10am – 4pm.

 

By: Emma Harwood

CWIB Fall 2019 Preview

Hey CWIB! I hope your summers have been fun and productive and you’re enjoying what is left of them! With the fall semester rapidly approaching, it’s almost time to return to classes, but it also means we’ll get to catch up with our CWIB friends and start a new semester off strong! Whether you’ve been interning, working, volunteering, traveling, or pursuing something else this summer, we hope you’ve learned a lot and are excited to leverage that experience. The beginning of the fall semester is packed with events that CWIB encourages you to participate in. Here is a preview of upcoming CWIB events so you can mark your calendars and not miss out!

First up is Pamplin Picnic, happening on August 30th which is the Friday of our first week back in classes. The picnic is from 4 to 6 pm on the Holtzman Alumni Lawn and you are all invited to enjoy food, music, and games (for free) to kick off the semester with Pamplin! Stop by the CWIB booth and visit the leadership team at the event to hear how our organization makes an impact not only within Pamplin, but also throughout the Virginia Tech community.

Pamplin Picnic
CWIB Leadership team tabling at the 2018 Pamplin Picnic!

On Wednesday, September 4th, CWIB is hosting its first workshop of the semester with Protiviti! The topic of the workshop is Business Horizons 101 and representatives from Protiviti will discuss resume building and elevator speeches. Many CWIB alumni, including the co-founder of CWIB at Virginia Tech, work for Protiviti, so it is a great company to build connections with through CWIB! Come out and get valuable Business Horizons tips from an employer’s perspective before Business Horizons the following day (September 5th from 10 am – 4 pm). Plus, food from Jimmy Johns will be provided by Protiviti at the workshop. Speaking of Business Horizons, click on the link above to view the attending companies and start planning which ones you want to connect with this year!

PRO_Logo_9.29_final

The busy week continues after Business Horizons with Gobblerfest on Friday, September 6th from 4 to 7 pm on the Drillfield. Stop by and visit the CWIB booth to gain more information on all we have planned this year, get to know members, and be inspired from your leadership team! Bring your friends too; we are so excited to meet future members!

On September 9th and 10th, CWIB is holding new member information sessions at 6 pm (location is still TBA). Come out if you’re a new member looking to join or tell your friends if they are interested in joining CWIB! That same week, the NYC Women in Business trek is happening from September 12th through 13th, so look out for more details to come on that, as well as information on other treks to take place this semester.

Our first monthly meeting of the semester is on Wednesday, October 2nd at 7 pm in NCB 260. Mark your calendars and come out to the first monthly meeting to reconnect with CWIB friends and hear from the new leadership team about what is in store for the fall semester! Our “Welcome Back” newsletter will be sent out next Monday, August 19th, outlining other important information, so be sure to give it a read!

october calendar
Mark your calendars for our first monthly meeting of 2019! October 2nd at 7pm in NCB 260.

 

We can’t wait to see you all at these events this semester and hope you’re excited as well!

By: Allison DeSantis

 

How to Conquer Finals Week

As the end of the semester is upon us and final exams and project deadlines are rapidly approaching, there are many strategies and coping mechanisms that we can use to help us manage our time, studying, and stress. Finals season is commonly considered a stress-inducing time in college, but with a little organization, effective study strategies, and attention to your health and well-being, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips to keep in mind as we head into finals season!

1. Schedule and plan

First and foremost, create a schedule for your finals studying or final project work time. Planning when you want to start studying for each final exam and how much time you want to dedicate to that exam will help you avoid cramming, pulling all-nighters, and feeling underprepared! With multiple final exams, it can be tempting to put off studying for your later exams. Starting your studying for an exam earlier rather than later is always the best option and making a study schedule can help you do that. Take a pen to paper and actually write down your study schedule or put it in your Google calendar, but just make sure to hold yourself to it! Set specific goals for each block of studying, like “Monday evening, I will review chapters 14-16, go over my class notes for these chapters, and do 10 practice problems from these chapters.” This will help ensure that you’ve allotted enough time for reviewing all the material you need to study. If there were concepts and chapters that you didn’t quite understand at first, allow yourself more time for studying those sections. Creating a schedule for finals studying is a great way to stay organized and better prepare for your exams.

study_schedule
Make a detailed study schedule and stick to it for finals! Image via Pinterest.com

 

2. Maintain balance in your life

Studying isn’t the only thing you should include in your schedule when planning your time for final exam season! Carving out time for exercise and connecting with friends is important to maintain your physical and mental health. According to this Active.com article, exercise signals the release of several key hormones which help us focus and feel better, thus improving our memory, attention, and accuracy over time. Of course, getting sleep and eating should not be blown off during this time in the semester. If you want to retain information and perform your best on your finals, getting enough sleep is vital. According to this PsychCentral article about improving your memory, eating healthy and getting a good night’s sleep are essential to improving your memory. Eating meals can also serve as a time to take a break and socialize with your friends. Finding time to spend with friends is a great way to reward yourself by taking time away from studying in order to stay motivated during finals season.

3. Utilize good study strategies

Utilizing study strategies can be very helpful if you want to study for long periods of time. Try studying in intervals by setting a timer for 25-30 minutes where you focus fully for that period of time, then take a five-minute break when the timer goes off. This is referred to as the Pomodoro technique, which you can read more about here. When there is a lot of material you want to review, making study guides and summarizing your notes for each chapter is a great technique. Form study groups to make studying for final exams a little less painful. Your study partners may be able to help you understand topics that you struggle with and vice versa. Explaining concepts and topics to others will reinforce your knowledge of the material.

pomodoro
The Pomodoro Technique is one method for studying in intervals. Image via Naturalfactors.com

4. Minimize distractions

Minimize distractions like the TV, your phone, and music that you like to sing along to while studying. Having your phone nearby can affect your focus and productivity if you are tempted to constantly check your messages or go on social media. Try putting your phone somewhere out of sight when you’re studying. If you have to check it, try to avoid opening social media because scrolling through social media feeds can suck you in, consuming more time than you might have anticipated spending on your phone. Listening to music helps a lot of people focus while studying, but try to avoid songs and artists that will make you want to sing along rather than focus on your studying. Opt for music that is more lowkey, soothing, and maybe doesn’t contain lyrics, like classical or instrumental music. Recently, I’ve been searching “study” on Spotify and there are a lot of playlists that people have created with non-distracting, chill study music that helps you focus!

study zone playlist
Find a good study music playlist that you like and isn’t distracting! Screenshot via Allison Desantis

5. Alternate your study space

Another tip for studying for long periods of time is to switch up your environment. It is easy to lose concentration when you’ve been in the same room or spot for hours. If you’ve spent a lot of time studying in your dorm or apartment, change up your environment by studying in the library, an academic building, or a coffee shop. Tidying up your study environment in your dorm or apartment is also a great way to feel refreshed and de-clutter your mind in preparation for your studying.

studyspace
Squires is one option for a finals study space and is offering free coffee, snacks, and de-stressing activities like yoga and playing with therapy animals during finals week! Image via Student Engagement and Campus Life at Virginia Tech

These tips might seem basic, but they are important to keep in mind as you start thinking about final exams. Stay positive during this time of year and remember that your grades and GPA are not the only things that define you. Good luck finishing up this semester; I know you are all capable of conquering finals!

By: Allison DeSantis

 

Summer Break Preparation

As finals approach and this year comes to an end, it is hard to keep our minds off of summer break. With that being said, CWIB has a few suggestions to help you plan for the most productive, yet revitalizing, summer possible! As college students, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with the stress of managing heavy course loads, extracurriculars, social events, and much more. The summer months can serve as a great opportunity to take a step back, catch your breath, and plan for the future without the pressure of deadlines weighing on your conscience. Whether you have an internship, summer job, or are giving yourself a summer off from either, here are five simple guidelines to ensure you make the most out of your break:

 

1.Keep a calendar, planner, or schedule- Just as you would during the year, managing your time during the summer is essential. You can include events relating to academics, socializing, personal time, or anything else important in your life. Regardless of what it is, staying organized can make a big difference in helping you establish what activities you want or need to accomplish. You have to make the most out of the three months we call summer, and planning can help you decide how you want to spend those months. Remember, it is important to balance work and play. Stay focused on your goals and aspirations all while enjoying your ample free time.

picture #1
Photo credit: PicsWe

2. Take time for yourself- Your body and mind have been through a lot over the course of the past school year. Stress can take a toll on us all, and it is important to give yourself time to recuperate. We often find it difficult to devote time to ourselves due to the hectic schedules we have during the school year. The summer months give us an opportunity to change that! Working out, eating healthy, and resting are just a few ways to nourish our bodies. Do whatever works best for you, but continue to make it a priority throughout the summer!

picture #2.jpg
Photo Credit: DeskGram

3. Do something you love- You only have a limited number of summers as a college student, so make them memorable. Spending your days doing something that gives you joy can go a long way in bringing you happiness throughout the next year. Whatever it may be, do it for you and your own enjoyment. Taking care of our own happiness is one of the most important things in life. As human beings, we conform to what others want to do far too often, but this summer can be a fresh start in taking care of ourselves and fulfilling our own desires! You have worked hard this past year, and you deserve to do something you love this summer.

picture #3.jpg
Photo credit: Pinterest

4. Think about the future. Planning for your future academic and career goals during a time that is not filled with stress can be very beneficial. You can rationally form the steps you will need to complete in order to get that job, internship, position, or any other aspiration. Ask yourself what do I want my future to look like? Then use this summer to your advantage. It can be a great way for you to grow into who you want to become! If you want something specific out of the upcoming school year, what can you do this summer to work towards that goal?

picture #4
Photo credit: J Miller & Company Twitter

5.Be proactive. It is easy to say you want something, but it takes strength to go and get that something. If you set a goal for yourself, work towards it. If you want to do a specific activity, do it. It is easy to waste away summer days because there is not a set schedule of classes or meetings you have to attend but strive to avoid those wasted days this summer. No one ever remembers the day they sat inside watching television for 14 hours straight. They remember the days they accomplished a goal or experienced something new. Make every day count.

picture #5
Photo credit: JuliaDub

No matter what you plan to do this summer, we hope you use the time as a way to grow, destress from the past school year, and make memories that will last you a lifetime. Use the upcoming summer months as motivation to work hard throughout the end of this semester!

 

By: Allison Wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing the Way for More Women in Sports

Sports are a major way to connect people of differing backgrounds. They bring about intense emotions as athletes and coaches can inspire the everyday person to reach for greatness. However, more often than not the image that pops up in our heads is of a male athlete, coach, or sports announcer. Women continue to struggle for equal respect in their athletic abilities. While women do not receive the same attention as men do when it comes to sports, we are taking the steps in the right direction. This comes from the support of male-dominated organizations providing women with equal opportunities.

A recent ESPN article caught my attention as the headline stated, “Buccaneers hire 2 female assistant coaches.” Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar were hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as assistant defensive line coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach, respectively (Schefter). This accomplishment made these two women the first full-time female coaches in the Buccaneers’ franchise.  

Locust and Javadifar .jpg
Locust (left) and Javadifar (right) were the first female assistant coaches hired in Buccaneers franchise history. Image via FOX.

Both women were extensively qualified for these positions as Locust has had coaching experience with the Baltimore Ravens as an intern and as defensive line coach for the Alliance of American Football’s Birmingham Iron. She has additional experience playing the sport herself at the semi-professional level (Schefter). Javadifar comes from an athletic background too as she played college basketball at Pace University. She furthered her education at New York Medical College where she received her doctorate in physical therapy; from there, she completed her sports physical therapy residency at Virginia Commonwealth University (Schefter). There was no question that Locust and Javadifar take their work seriously. Thanks to Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians, he took their accomplishments seriously too.

The National Football League (NFL) is predominantly composed of male athletes, coaches, and general managers, so women may often be overlooked when it comes to their inclusion within this organization. Tampa Bay Head Coach Bruce Arians stated, “I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to coach at the highest level of professional football. Sometimes, all you need is the right organization to offer up the opportunity.” While general NFL viewers would not initially picture women as a part of the team staff, Arians realized that it shouldn’t matter whether a man or a woman is a coach, as long as he or she knows how to coach. ” ‘I have known Lori going back to my days at Temple University, and I’ve seen firsthand just how knowledgeable and passionate she is about this game,’ Arians said. ‘I was equally impressed with Maral’s background in performance training and physical therapy, and I know she will be a valuable asset to our strength and conditioning program,’ ” (Schefter). Arians recognized the abilities of these women and that’s all he needed as confirmation they would be successful contributors to the team. Their gender was never a second thought.

Bruce Arians
Bruce Arians is the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and made the decision to add Locust and Javadifar to his staff. Image via INSCMagazine.

Arians is known for his support of female coaches as he previously hired Jen Welter as a training camp intern for the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, where he was previously the head coach. She is considered the first woman to hold a position with the NFL (Schefter). Hopefully, he can serve as an example to other coaches that hiring women to work in sports is not such a crazy thought after all.

Locust and Javadifar join a total of 55 women working for NFL teams in football operations (Marvez). With the increased number of women working in this field, many would assume there is added pressure on them to prove themselves worthy of the position. In an article from Sporting News, Samantha Rapoport, the NFL’s director of football development, states, “ ‘What we don’t want is the spotlight on one female and her feeling it rests on her shoulders for women to succeed or fail,’ ” (Marvez). One woman’s accomplishment should be something special to her; it should inspire others to do the same, not frighten them that they will not live up to their own potential. So far, this has not been a problem among employees within the NFL as Rapoport complements the organization as being “an absolutely incredibly open, welcoming place to work.”

Samantha Rapoport
Samantha Rapoport is the NFL’s director of football development. She is “tasked with helping ensure females are afforded chances to prosper at all levels in a male-dominated league,” (Marvez). Image via McGill News.

Women who work in sports are becoming more and more common in the world we live in today where increased diversity is not only recommended but demanded by organizations. We can see this past the NFL as the National Basketball Association (NBA) has several women working for their teams, such as the San Antonio Spurs’ Becky Hammon, who became the first female assistant coach in NBA history. Sports reporters like Erin Andrews and Laura Rutledge are paving the way for women in sports media positions. We can see that the opportunities for females in the sports industry are ever increasing across several aspects of the field.

Women such as those mentioned above are role models for women and young girls everywhere that they can be just as successful as men in the sports field. In the future, we can expect to see more women in leadership roles within sports organizations, so if this is something that is of interest to you, don’t be afraid to apply for internships that show you possess these same qualities and skills to be successful in the world of sports!

There are numerous jobs in the sports business. Be sure to check out Teamwork Online at this link to find opportunities that match your strengths and passions, and how they can fit into the sports industry.

 

By: Emma Harwood 

 

Working Effectively as a Team

In college, you’re definitely going to belong to at least one team, whether that be for a class, sports team, or internship. Learning how to effectively work with others during your college career is important because there are few careers post-graduation that don’t involve working on teams! I’m sure we’ve all had experiences working on a team that weren’t so effective, whether that be because of lukewarm commitment from certain members, clashing personalities, or conflicting ideas. Here are some aspects of effective teamwork to keep in mind when you’re in those situations so you can get work done efficiently!

dcteamwork
What teams are you involved in? Do you believe they work effectively? Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business 

Define a clear mission and approach

Clarifying what your team is trying to achieve and how it aims to do so is an essential task to complete early on in the project. Members must share a commitment to the goals and understand the expectations for the amount of work and time they need to commit to the project or organization. If you find your team is lacking structure, try setting clear roles for members. This way,   what is expected of them. Remember, everyone comes to a team barring different strengths and skills that they can offer. Clarifying the team’s overall mission is important, so that team members know how their individual efforts are playing into the final product or outcome.

0331170805d
Everyone comes to a team with different strengths and skills that your team can utilize! Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Foster an open environment where dissent is welcome

The great thing about a team is that it brings together people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets. When you have different perspectives and opinions on your team, the chance of producing innovative ideas increases. According to an article about effective teamwork from The Balance Careers, “the team creates an environment in which people are comfortable taking reasonable risks in communicating, advocating positions, and taking action.” If members of your team are not comfortable disagreeing or proposing new ideas, your team might be experiencing a groupthink situation. According to Psychology Today, groupthink occurs when a well-intentioned group makes irrational or non-optimal decisions out of the urge to conform or fear of dissent. You want to watch out for groupthink when working on your teams because respectful disagreement and discussion will ultimately improve the outcome of your teamwork. An effective team environment is one where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions.

IMG_8338
In an effective team environment, everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions! Photo credit: Heather Sangalang

Resolve problems and conflicts

Resolving problems and conflicts is important if you want your team to be effective and efficient. While it may be tempting when friendship is involved, picking sides during team member personality conflicts does not support the resolution of the conflict. Your team should work towards a mutual resolution of problems and disagreements. According to a Forbes article, all members feel visible, valued, and involved in effective teams. Therefore, if one member doesn’t feel this way, something needs to be addressed. If a conflict or clash comes up on your team, it needs to be resolved, so that you can continue tackling your goals. Nobody will be motivated to work if there is tension in the group, right?

Working on teams will continue to be a part of our college and post-graduation careers, so let’s work on growing our teamwork skills now! If you feel like your team is lacking in some of these areas, communicate that with them. Other members of your team might be feeling the same way and will appreciate you stepping up. CWIB believes in your power to lead effective teams and empower your peers to achieve your goals!

 

By: Allison DeSantis