By Allison Xu
High school students are often involved in a variety of extracurricular activities such as debate club, a music band, or a school newspaper. Those activities allow you to pursue your passion and expand your network. Meanwhile, you can make full use of these opportunities to sharpen your communication skills.
Writing is seen as an essential skill in academics and the workplace. Good writing needs to be clear, concise, and coherent.
Many extracurricular activities require some writing. If you are engaged in your school newspaper or work on school literary magazines, you obviously need to write articles or review others’ writing. For those less writing-focused activities like debate, mock trial, and environmental club, members will need to write speeches, reports, or other documents. Even for activities such as math club and programming club, members may still take chances to write up a project abstract or full report.
2. Public speaking
Like it or not, you will need to give a presentation or speech to an audience someday in your future. It is better to conquer your fear of public speaking and develop the ability to speak confidently to a group as early as you can.
Extracurricular activities offer great opportunities for you to practice public speaking. Participate in events and contests to make your point, share your ideas and thoughts, and influence others. You don’t have to be outstanding to speak up, but you get to start to try and do it.
3. Active listening
Listening is as important as speaking. Active listening allows you to truly understand others and avoid biased judgment. Extracurricular activities often have group meetings and discussions. Take the opportunity to practice active listening—listening with curiosity and an open mind. Listen to learn and understand, rather than to respond.
4. Nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication includes your facial expression, physical behaviors, and tone of voice. Without using words, nonverbal communication expresses emotions and sends messages.
In extracurricular activities, when you are interacting with others, you are practicing effective use of nonverbal communication, such as strong and clear voice, appropriate eye contact, and effective gestures to strengthen the message. Do not send out confusing or unclear nonverbal signals.