Essential Skills Definition Review

Review of definition for Oral Communication

HRSDC would like to change the definition of Oral Communication to:

"Oral communication refers to the speaking and listening skills needed to participate verbally in discussions, exchange thoughts and information, make clear and convincing presentations, and interact with a variety of audiences.

In the workplace, oral communication skills are used to greet customers, discuss products and prices with suppliers, and explain work procedures to co-workers. Other examples of tasks include taking messages, speaking with clients on the phone, delivering and receiving verbal instructions, participating in meetings, delivering presentations, negotiating agreements and resolving conflicts.

What are your thoughts and comments about this change?


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


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  1. Comment

    I like this definition.

  2. Comment

    Carol MacLeod's Proposed Definition of Oral Communication: Oral Communication is the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate meaning primarily by using speech, as well as non-verbal behaviours, in performing work-related tasks.

    Rationale: Please reference the Developmental Guidelines for Drafting Effective ES Definitions that I posted and, in particular, the need for a succinct definition with details captured in the Summary Guide or Readers’ Guide.

    My proposed definition forwards the concept of facilitating meaning (i.e., what is intended to be expressed) as a construct for defining Writing and Oral Communication—the former does it using text, the latter does it using speech. (See my proposed definition and rationale for Writing.) Once again, I prefer starting all definitions with knowledge and skills, as opposed to ability, because it reinforces that a range of knowledge (e.g., vocabulary) and sub-skills skills enable Oral Commnication. This is important from an instructional perspective where these sub-skills are identified and taught.

    The Oral Communication definition has always included listening skills—one of the many skills associated with using speech—not just verbal. There is no need to single out listening skills when pitching the definition towards speech as it is inherent. HRSDC’s proposed definition incorrectly positions listening skills as a lead in to some type of verbal exchange. If applied as stated, then tasks that involved listening to training DVDs or webinars for the purpose of obtaining information would not be included because it does not result in a verbal discussion.

    The ES framework for Oral Communication also recognizes the use of non-verbal behaviours alongside or as an adjunct to speech. That is why the original definition says “pertains primarily the use of speech” –it just did not continue on to explicitly speak to secondary elements. My proposed definition talks about facilitating meaning primarily through speech, as well as non-verbal behaviours.

    As always, I think that ending each definition with “in performing work-related tasks” situates the definition within an occupational context. This is HRSDC’s Essential Skills niche which differentiates the methodology and attendant Essential Skills Profiles from countless other approaches. It should be reinforced as it is a strength.

  3. Comment

    I agree with the definition.

  4. Comment

    New definition is much clearer. I think we need to add that communication can be by mobile devise, telephone, skype, face to face, video conferencing etc. I know that immigrants have more difficulty communicating using mobile devises and this affects their performance at work.

  5. Comment

    I agree with lmadro that the definition is clear, but wonder if the means of communication identified are better left with the computer/digital technology definition.

  6. Comment

    As with writing, what's missing for me in the definition is the purpose and context of the communication. Yes, a variety of audiences is important but so is a variety of contexts for a variety of purposes. Non-verbal communication skills would be important to capture as well. I question the need to refer to "convincing" presentations in the definition. Again, depends on the purpose of the presentation.

  7. Comment

    We propose the following definition:

    "Oral Communication refers to the speaking and listening skills needed to participate verbally to exchange thoughts and present information" Again if HRSDC agrees to the tag like "to perform work, learning and life tasks" that is great.

    When we initially read HRSDC's proposed definition that states to exchange thoughts and information, make clear and convincing presentations, and interact with a variety of audiences" we felt this was somewhat limiting. For example, one could make a presentation that is sharing information - not convincing anyone of anything.