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Guest Post: Confident Communication Tips for Gen Y From a Gen Y

This month I have the pleasure to share with you thoughts from Jairus-Joaquin Mathews, a fellow Gen Y who works with even younger Gen Y to build communication skills. He represents the C&E Group as a speech trainer and is guest posting on the topic of Gen Y communication gaps and strategies. Please read on for Jairus’ great insights below:

generation-kids-demotivational-posters-1354677234Do you recall when video-telephonic communication was only something you saw on The Jetsons? I do. I also remember calling the home phone of a girl that I liked over and over if I couldn’t reach her because I didn’t want her parents to hear me on the answering machine, and because Caller ID didn’t exist (and I wouldn’t have been considered a stalker).

I am a member of Generation Y. And yet, those days seem like ancient history as my formative years were spent during a time of unbelievably expanding communication technology. Today, through social media, texting, videoconferencing, and other technologies, we have the ability to connect and communicate instantaneously and constantly.

“This endless access to communication is one of the defining characteristics of Gen Y.”

This endless access to communication is one of the defining characteristics of Gen Y. Some have argued that digital communication technology has negatively affected the interpersonal communication skills of Gen Y. I’m still on the fence as to whether I agree with that or not, but I do believe that Gen Y may be up against some speaking/communication challenges that could potentially hinder their career growth.

As a speech trainer, I coach people to speak and communicate more effectively.  More specifically, I train youth, professionals, and athletes within the context of interviewing and giving presentations. I believe that within every person lies the potential to be a great communicator.  With excellent communication skills, Gen Y members can advance their career exponentially.

I have identified some specific patterns of challenges that I’ve experienced in working with the Gen Y population. However, I have to note that these challenges are not unique to Gen Y, but are also present within other generations as well. I’d like to offer three tips that I could help Gen Y give dynamic presentations and interviews.

1. Pause Before You Push Send: Honor the Question.

Untweet Please!Many a celebrity has gotten into trouble because they didn’t pause and reflect before they engaged with others through Twitter or other social media. Based on some sort of stimulus, question, or statement from someone or somewhere else, they put out a message that they couldn’t take back.

People who interview for jobs or athletes who interview with news media are faced with a similarly precarious situation. They respond to a question or statement without taking an adequate amount of time to contemplate the depth of what is being requested.

Before responding, the interviewee needs to consider some key questions. What is the interviewer truly asking me? What does he or she want to know about me or the specific situation they are questioning? Take a breath and a deliberate pause before you respond.

“They respond to a question or statement without taking an adequate amount of time to contemplate the depth of what is being requested.”

Even in a time of fast paced technology where you might be used to responding in a flash, show the interviewer that you are taking their question seriously by pausing.

2. Cultivate, Craft, and Send Your Message Intentionally 

Gen Y is the first generation to be completely obsessed with the idea of creating a personal brand. Personal branding goes beyond the concept of self-improvement for its own sake, but also involves marketing the self for profit. Personal branding is deliberate, intentional, and even meticulous.


As the creator of your personal brand, your goal is to leave a lasting positive impression that is memorable and unique. The same goal should apply whenever participating in a meeting, sharing in an interview, or giving a presentation. It’s important to craft your message from the outset. Prior to that, you should have vigorously prepared the message that you want to send.

Throughout the presentation you want to demonstrate skillful nonverbal and verbal communication. I put the nonverbal first because it is often the most important and most neglected aspect of your communication. Effective speakers send the right message about their personal brand through the use of their entire bodies, especially through their stance, posture, face, and eyes.

Often, it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Every opportunity in which you converse with others, you are sending a message that reflects yourself. You have a personal responsibility to be choiceful regarding what image you project.

 “You have a personal responsibility to be choiceful regarding what image you project.”

3. Present Power As A Speaker, Not Through Powerpoint.

The first time that I taught undergrads at The University of Georgia, I assigned them a group presentation in which they had to teach the weekly course reading to the class.  I had let them know that they could present the information in any way that they thought would be effective.

Because I had never used Powerpoint in any of my own review discussions, I was somewhat surprised that seemingly each and every group decided to use Powerpoint.

I was more surprised how ineffectively they used Powerpoint as they took turns reading off each slide as their classmates used this opportunity to zone out or check their Facebook. The students used Powerpoint as their presentation instead of using Powerpoint to supplement their presentation. Again, this is not unique to Gen Y, but the irony is that research says that Gen Yers learn most effectively through interaction and asking questions.

However, instead of teaching and presenting how they and their peers learned best, I believe they decided to teach how many of them had previously been taught. Any speaker has to recognize the value that he or she brings as the presenter. The power is not in the information alone, but how the presenter bears the information. The most important thing is to engage the audience with thoughts and questions and to demonstrate that you care about what you are talking about.

 “Any speaker has to recognize the value that he or she brings as the presenter.”

By pausing before answering, crafting your message with intention, understanding your audience during presentations, any Gen Y can enhance their communication skills.


Jairus-Joaquin Matthews, PhD, is a speech trainer with The C & E Group: A Communication Skills Training Company. As a certified member of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, Dr. Matthews is a licensed speech-language pathologist who has practiced in Georgia and California. Dr. Matthews has presented at many national and international conferences. He has served as a consultant for the International Reading Association, on the editorial board for a professional journal, and as a literacy consultant for non-profit organizations. The C & E Group works with clients to enhance their inner Confidence, so that they can demonstrate Excellence. 

To learn more about the company visit www.cegroupspeechcoach.com


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