Grad students: Learn how to give a talk

Matt Welsh, former professor of computer science at Harvard and now a software engineer at Google, argues, "Grad students: Learn how to give a talk":

It is difficult to overstate how important presentation skills are for academics. This is about much more than "being a good teacher" (which is a nice trait to have, but not actually that important for an academic's career in the long run). There is a huge division between the professors who are influential leaders, and those who are also-rans. In almost all cases that I can think of, the professors who are very successful are also good speakers, and good communicators overall. They can give good, clear, funny talks. They can engage in meaningful conversations at a technical level and at a personal level. They have a strong command of English and can use the language effectively to communicate complex ideas. So I claim that there is a strong correlation between good communication skills and overall research impact.

I would argue that there is a strong correlation between good communication skills and overall success in any career. First off, remember that the available research suggests that GPA (or even having an MBA) has almost no correlation with success. Now, just google "communication skills and success in careers" to see how others consider it important. And some research shows that although employers consider problem-solving skills the most important, communication skills (especially writing) are also important (Floyd & Gordon, 1998).

Floyd, C. J., & Gordon, M.E. (1998). What skills are most important? A comparison of employer, student, and staff perceptions. Journal of Marketing Education, 20(2), 103-109.