LinkedIn, the authoritative professional social networking powerhouse, recently released its 2020 study on the most attractive skills that companies desire this year. They reviewed data from their “network of over 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs to reveal the 15 most in-demand soft and hard skills of 2020”.

Unsurprisingly, the top five hard skills were blockchain, cloud computing, analytic reasoning, Artificial Intelligence,  and UX design.

For the soft skills – creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence reigned supreme.

LinkedIn 2020 report

Because of the rise of innovation and advanced technologies, which are signalling a shift in focus, we’re in danger of relegating ‘soft’ skills such as effective communication, to the fringe. Yet, LinkedIn cited persuasion (encompassing effective communication in speech and writing) as the second most desired ‘soft’ skill.

Now you ‘hard’ skills advocates might be unconvinced about the relevance of effective communication in driving innovation or leading change. Therefore, I’ve listed three reasons to persuade you that communication is critical to the success of any technical endeavour.

1) Effective communication drives action

It all boils down to one thing: being able to explain your advanced technologies simply, concisely, and clearly.  To succeed, you’d first need to know how to move hearts, before attempting to convince minds to take action.

Whether orally, in writing, or during one-to-one (interpersonal) communication, you can’t rally collaboration for your project, or inspire people to support you without communicating your ‘why’ – the purpose and drive behind your shiny object, your top-notch data, or your ‘disrupting’ service.

And communicating your ‘why’ is impossible without incorporating relevant stories to bond with your audience and trigger emotional reactions.  Simon Sinek, in his groundbreaking TED talk below, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, explains the role of your ‘why’ in creating a following for your vision.

So whatever your innovation, effectively communicating your purpose and addressing why people should care, are surefire ways to generate action for your cause.

2) Effective communication complements innovation

Without a thorough understanding of your technology, you won’t clearly explain its tenets in an organisation-wide memo, in a proposal to potential investors, or in a white paper to demonstrate your thought leadership.

However, by adhering to the three beacons of effective communication – simplicity, brevity, and clarity, your written communication will quicken comprehension. Most innovations comprise a strong written element that you must document (think manuals, patents, and copyrights), and processes you must formally highlight for broad application and distribution. Therefore, persuasive writing skills are essential to the success of your technologies.

In this CNN interview below, Allen Blue, co-founder and vice president of product strategy at LinkedIn, explained the new service, ‘Open for Business’. LinkedIn launched the facility for small businesses and freelancers to help them connect with potential partners and grow their client bases.

Regarding the skills’ gap, Blue listed new themes such as blockchain, Artificial intelligence, and machine learning as some of the fastest-growing jobs in the world. Nevertheless, in the changing world of work, where you’d need to future-proof your career, the LinkedIn co-founder made a strong case for ‘soft’ skills – including oral communication, from the 5.18-minute mark. At the 5.59 minute-mark, Julia Chatterley, the CNN anchor, recapped with the powerful statement:

Soft skills facilitate technical skill adoption”.

So whether robots replace our jobs, or advanced technologies dictate how we operate our lives, you’d increasingly require effective communication to complement the adoption and distribution of innovative systems.

3) Effective communication persuades the critics

Sometimes, you’d need to explain your idea one-on-one, to an influential stakeholder.

To make a memorable impression in interpersonal interactions, you must understand nonverbal behaviours. 

For example, you should know why ‘open’ body language cues (‘open’ arms/palm gestures at navel length) generate trust and signal credibility. (Hint: such gestures are linked to evolutionary wiring. They show that you’re not a threat and that you bear no weapons. Thus, you can be trusted). Similarly, using body language signals that increase likability (good eye contact, appropriate smiles, different tones, etc.) improve your persuasive ability.

On the flip side, ‘closed’  and ‘cold’ nonverbal behaviours—palms/arms not visible or hidden, hands hanging at the sides with a lack of eye contact, frowning, etc.—don’t inspire confidence in your message.

Furthermore, being sensitive to the nonverbal cues of your audience will enable you to tweak certain aspects of your communication for better results.

Also useful in excellent interpersonal communication is your emotional intelligence. Sharp emotional intelligence – how well you identify, evaluate and manage your emotions, and those of others, will ensure a balanced delivery: with the right amount of emotion and logic.

One-on-one communication can result in incredible support for your idea. It will also convince the toughest critics to support you if you strive to communicate orally and nonverbally in a credible manner. But to achieve this feat, you must be fully ‘present’ in the moment by listening carefully to decipher what is said and what is not being uttered.

Persuading the naysayers is achievable with purposeful communication.


So while various data continue to demonstrate the importance of ‘hard’ skills in the future of work, effective communication skills will never go out of style.

These ‘soft’ skills will continue to be vital in the art and science of persuasion because humans drive systems and innovation. Thus, without the ability to convince people and inspire action, your grand innovation can’t be championed.

By all means, learn those technical skills because depending on your sector, they may become indispensable to your role.

Nevertheless, realise that for whatever field you wish to thrive in, you must continually hone and test your communication skills. It’s the foolproof way to move hearts, change minds, and generate the results you deserve.

Over to you:

Do you need help in boosting your communication skills? Sign up here for my free quarterly newsletters and learn best practices. When you sign up, you’ll receive my evergreen resource on giving persuasive presentations. Ensure you download that document and refer to it before any high-stakes presentation or speech.

If you enjoyed this post, don’t rush off just yet. Please remember to:

  • Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons below.
  • Sign up for email updates so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!
  • Fill the ‘Contact/Book Lucille Ossai’ form in the menu above to let us know how we can help you solve your communication problems.


N.B: First and second images are courtesy of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay. Infographic is courtesy of LinkedIn. Simon Sinek’s talk is courtesy of TED. Interview with Allen Blue is courtesy of CNN. Last image is courtesy of John Hain via Pixabay.

2 Replies to “In Defence Of Effective Communication Skills”

  1. Fascinating perspective! Lucille Ossai’s defense of effective communication skills aligns seamlessly with the findings from LinkedIn’s study on the most sought-after skills in 2020. In an era where digital connectivity dominates, the recognition of communication as a crucial asset is invaluable. Eager to delve into the insights on both soft and hard skills shaping the professional landscape this year. An insightful read on the evolving demands of the job market and the enduring importance of effective communication.

Got an opinion? Please share it below.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.