Competency M: Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for professional work including collaboration and presentations.
Meaning and Importance
Working as part of a team is an inherent part of an information professional’s life. Whether it’s as part of a committee, collaborating with coworkers, or presenting at a conference, librarians need to be able to work with a diverse group of people and then be able to talk about that work as a coherent unit.
Collaboration is important for many reasons, but they all come back to getting the work done faster, better, and more concisely than one person could’ve done on their own. One person has a finite amount of time and energy to work on any one project. A group of people has an exponentially higher amount of both those things, and so group projects often end up doing bigger and better things than a single person’s solo efforts.
Tied into that is the need for a group to be able to talk about what they’ve done to people outside of their group. And we need to do it in many different ways! Being able to talk about the accomplishments of a project means possible future funding, more funding, more participation, enlarging the project, inspiring other people to do a project of their own— and more! Some ways to do this would be presenting online during a webinar, writing a paper or article, presenting on a conference panel, or even just talking at a local council meeting. A combination of written and oral communication is the best way to let others know about a group’s great accomplishments.
In INFO 284 Special Collections, I collaborated with two fellow students on building a digital collection of ephemera from Southern California. We had to collect the materials, scan (digitize) them, and then organize them into an online collection. Finally, we had to present our collection using a collaboratively made Powerpoint document.
By this point in all of our school careers, we had done several group projects. However, every group dynamic is different, and the needs of each individual group member changes throughout the semester. We were lucky in that all of our group members lived in the same time zone, and so we could schedule meetings easily. We were also all familiar with using Google Drive, email, and Powerpoint, so communicating online and building the various parts of our group project were relatively easy. We created drafts of our project documents in Google Docs, and kept in touch through email.
My part involved scanning some items and digitizing them, and then contributing to the groups PowerPoint presentation. My group members did the same with their own ephemera. Then, once we built the collection, we created a presentation. We did this by developing the individual PowerPoint slides into a coherent series, and then writing a script of what we wanted to narrate over the slides. Each group member then did a part of the presentation, speaking their part of the script and flipping through the relevant slides. This presentation was then recorded and sent to our professor and classmates. Here is a link to the Powerpoint presentation: 284-10_Group06
This was a great group project experience. I hadn’t really presented a project orally before, so it was very good practice. After completing the assignment, I felt more confidant about my ability to present a professional piece of collaborative work.
In the future, I plan on using the skills I learned at SJSU to better collaborate with my workers, committee members, and business partners. It’s important to work well with others, just as it’s important to be able to talk about that collaboration to interested parties. Through taking classes at SJSU, I’m now able to present the group’s efforts in a way that highlights the positive work we’ve accomplished in a professional manner.