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IEEE Communications Society

Published: 26 Mar 2018

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Boost Your Career by Improving Your Writing and Presentation Skills

Technical Writing - English as a Second Language graphic

You already know how important it is to keep your technical knowledge up to date with the latest information, but what are you doing to keep up your soft skills? Perhaps you consider soft skills as something that would be important for those in management, but the reality is that these skills can be a valuable asset for anyone who is looking to advance in their career or even to just have others better understand and value their work.  Improving writing and presentation skills are two areas in which you can focus and begin developing right away.

If you think good writing skills are more important to those from academia who need to have their work published, think again!  Employers are looking for individuals that can represent the organization in a professional manner through their writing.   It’s important to be able to communicate the value of your work, and to be able to do it in a way that helps to gain support of your colleagues and management.  Writing skills are even more important today, since many times our first contact with others can be through email or online communications.  For engineers, written communication is especially valuable to those who are proposing new product or service ideas.  In his recent blog, You are what you writeHarry Shum discusses the importance of writing, especially for engineers.  He explained, “You might be the smartest person with the best idea, but if you can’t communicate your thinking in a compelling way, you won’t get far.”  He goes on share ideas on how to take advantage of opportunities to engage in writing on the job.  “I see so many occasions for building long-form writing back into the engineering culture—planning documents, project proposals, technology LRP’s, review articles—to inspire us to work together, collectively creating and cultivating big ideas and big thinking.”  Perhaps upon taking a look at your current project or daily tasks, you can find these opportunities in your own work and think of ways to get started.

So you have a better idea of its importance and possible opportunities to be more engaged in writing, but what can you do to improve your skills?  To get you started, a good resource is a recent blog titled, Technical Writing for Engineers, by Tom DuPuis.  In this blog from September 2017, DuPuis discusses different strategies that you can employ to improve your writing.  If those strategies seem too overwhelming, check out this short article, Five Ways Engineers Can Improve Their Writing, from IEEE’s The Institute, in which the author John Platt outlines some simple ways you can further develop your writing skills. 

If you’re still unclear where to start, one easy thing that you can do right away is to start with proofreading your email communications.  Spelling and grammatical errors in emails can have a poor impression on the reader.   In her LinkedIn blog post, “The Importance of Good Grammar in Business Communications,” Cecile Scaros discusses how “clients and suppliers are more likely to trust a company that communicates clearly and correctly. The use of proper grammar will help maintain your business’ credibility and reputation as a professional, trustworthy enterprise that views all of its interactions with its customers and traders as equally important.”  So take a few extra moments before clicking send and re-read your email messages to ensure that you are making your best professional appearance.

Now that you will be producing more professional written communications, you will likely have more opportunities to present your ideas to others.  Being good at delivering presentation is a skill that you can develop with practice.  In the article “10 Ways To Improve Your Presentation Skills,” Forbes Coaches Council provides some great strategies that you can tryout to help build your confidence and improve your presence when speaking to an audience.   The IEEE Professional Communications Society also has a number of valuable resources on their website to help you with improving your communications skills.  Specifically, they have a dedicated section of their website about presentations which provide “strategies for a variety of types of oral presentations and, along with our page on designing visuals, should help you develop this important part of your engineering communication toolbox.”

Beyond formal presentations, those communication skills really can be applied in numerous situations.  The ability portray confidence in your speech, be an active listener, and being able to think on your feet and respond to questions as they arise is a highly valued skill.  Although it does take time to develop this skill, there are some things you can do now to help you get started.  In the 3DxBlog, “The Bulletproof Communication Checklist for Engineers,” there is a great simple step that is mentioned that you can practice immediately in your daily interactions:  Remove Distractions.  With our smart phones constantly calling for our attention, I think this practice is more challenging than ever.  As the blog’s author suggests “Make sure you are fully attentive toward another party when communicating in person, on the phone or online. Maintain eye contact, close your phone and computer, close the door or close your browser tabs so you can focus on the task at hand: communicating clearly.”  Giving the person that you are speaking with your full attention is not only a sign of respect, but will help both of you to communicate more effectively and thus address more directly and effectively the job, issue, or challenge at hand.

If you’re an engineer for which English is your second language, improving your presentation and writing skills can be even more of a challenge.  IEEE ComSoc understands this challenge and in response has been working with communications engineering leader, Narisa Nan Chu, to bring her valuable course, “Advanced Technical Writing and Presentation for English-as-a-Second-Language Engineers” to more people through the IEEE ComSoc Training Program.  This course will be offered both in-person at IEEE ICC on 20 May as well as webcast to participants online.  It’s a great opportunity for those who wish to better understand English language/culture subtleties and further develop their own highly professional technical writing skills. 

Best of luck to you as you move forward with your soft skills development!  Keep in mind, if you are looking for another opportunity to develop your writing skills, consider proposing an article for the IEEE WCP NewsComplete this form to share your ideas with us.  Articles for IEEE WCP News are brief (no more than 500 words) and offer you the opportunity to share what you’ve found to be helpful skills, experiences, or credentials to have to advance in your career.  We would love to hear your ideas!

Last Chance to Apply for First IEEE WCET™ Testing Window in 2018

Applications will be accepted until 30 March 2018 for the first testing window of the IEEE WCET Certification exam in 2018.  Candidates will then sit for the exam any time from 16 April through 12 May 2018 at a local testing center.

The popular Combination Package that includes a seat in the April 4 Day Intensive Wireless Training Course PLUS a seat in the Spring 2018 WCET Exam is available until 28 March.  The 4 Day Intensive Wireless Communications course included in this package is scheduled for 10-13 April and includes a copy of the Wireless Engineering Body of Knowledge, 2nd Edition (WEBOK). Learn more and register for this special offer.

Don’t miss this opportunity to have a great start to 2018 by earning this valuable professional credential. Apply now.

Fall 2012, Spring 2013 & Spring 2015 IEEE WCPs: Your Deadline/Extended Deadline is One Month Away!

A message from Dr. Mohamed M. A. Moustafa, Chair, IEEE WCET Recertification & ccreditation Committee.

If you earned or renewed your IEEE WCET Certification in Fall 2012, Spring 2013 or Spring 2015,  the recertification & accreditation committee is reminding you that your IEEE WCP certificate will expire in 30 April 2018, and that you will need to renew your certification before this upcoming deadline.

If you have not done so already, please consider starting your renewal process. You’ve only one way to do so now, by showing the earned Professional Development Units (PDUs) through contributions to the profession and/or personal professional development. Details about this approach can be found on the IEEE WCET website. You will also find an application form that you need to download and use to record your activities. IEEE WCPs from 2012-2013 should use the 5 year PDU application spreadsheet and IEEE WCPs from 2015 should use the 3 year PDU application spreadsheet.

The recertification & accreditation committee is confident that your experience and your professional development during the last several years will meet the criteria for recertification.

If you have any difficulty completing the application form, you can send us your up-to-date resume and we can help you fill out the application.

As a reminder, this recent change in IEEE WCET recertification requirements became effective 1 January 2017. It is now required for the IEEE WCP credentials holders to apply for the renewal of the WCET certification every 3 years. As a result, fees for recertification have been reduced by 40%. IEEE/IEEE ComSoc members are now charged just $180 to recertify, while nonmembers are charged $210. Once you have shown that you have earned the required PDUs, your credential will be renewed for another 3 years.

Please visit the IEEE WCET Recertification web page to learn more or you can contact us, if you have any questions.

Upcoming IEEE ComSoc Training Courses

The full list of courses being offered through year-end is now available.  Topics include 5G, Optical Communications, LTE, Wi-Fi, Security, IoT, and more.  Discounts available on select courses for early registration or registration for related courses as a “bundle.”  View the calendar of upcoming courses now.

Industry News

How the Internet of Things Could Fracture Wi-Fi
“Wi-Fi is the invisible workhorse of modern life. But Wi-Fi is struggling. And the next phase of the Internet—the Internet of Things—could break it.” [IEEE Spectrum]

Four predictions for the cellular IoT market
A short article to get a glimpse at what may be in store for this market. [RCRWireless]

5G is in Danger of Being Oversold
“Commercial service is years away, but even then, 5G won’t fulfill all of its promises.” [IEEE Spectrum]

IoT security spend to hit $1.5B this year
“Nearly 20 per cent of businesses surveyed by Gartner observed at least one IoT-based attack in the past three years.” [ARN]

How 5G mobile services enable new M2M apps
“The new research found that emerging cellular networks -- including NB-IoT, LTE-M and 5G -- will grow together to account for just under 10 percent of all cellular M2M connections by 2022.” [TelecomsTechNews]

How the Industrial Internet of Things Is Changing the Face of Manufacturing
“New networks could reduce maintenance costs and make workplaces safer” [IEEE The Institute]

LTE now represents most of the world's roaming traffic
“According to data from Syniverse, inter-regional LTE data roaming traffic has surpassed non-LTE data roaming traffic for the first time.” [TelecomsTechNews]

English City Hosts World's First Public, End-to-End 5G Demonstration
“The University of Bristol held the Layered Realities Weekend 5G Showcase in the city's downtown Millennium Square, a two-day program that included demonstrations of 5G systems, smart city safety technology and a transmission to a connected autonomous vehicle.” [WirelessWeek]

U.K. regulator launches 5G spectrum auction process
“Ofcom said the process to award frequencies in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz band could take several weeks” [RCRWireless]

Ford to build 4G LTE into all vehicles by 2020
“Building toward its vision of ‘smart vehicles for a smart world,’ Ford is revamping its automotive lineup to pave the way for over-the-air (OTA) connected car updates and what it calls the Transportation Mobility Cloud. It has also reiterated its plan to include full 4G LTE connectivity to all models by the end of next year.” [FierceWireless]

Study Outlines 10 New Vulnerabilities in LTE Networks
“A new report suggests flaws in 4G LTE networks could allow attackers to fabricate messages from devices or impersonate their locations.” [WirelessWeek]

AR, AI and 5G to help drive mobile spending through '21
“Companies are expected to boost their deployment of augmented reality software and hardware this year as they bolster efforts to enable employee mobility.” [ComputerWorld]

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