Besides internships, being a camp counselor is a great way to learn communication skills. I spent my summer working as a counselor at a tennis camp and trying to teach 5 year olds how to play tennis is not an easy task.
To stop me from jumping off a bridge, excellent communication was key. Finding the right way to converse with campers saved me from a torturous summer filled with chasing kids around and getting hit with tennis balls.
Here are five skills I learned at camp on successful communication:
- Be direct: When you want someone to do something, it’s best to instruct him or her clearly. Know what you are going to say before you say it. By avoiding confusion, you avoid tension and annoyances from both parties. Your task will get done correctly in a civil manner. In my case (and in most careers), being direct was vital. Otherwise, I was stuck with a puddle of tears on my court from a camper’s temper tantrum.
- Be gentle but be firm: In both public relations and being a counselor, you must be understanding and kind while still remaining firm to your point. You want others to understand what you’re saying and take you seriously. However, you still want respect when communicating with other people. It’s important to find a balance between being too understanding and too forceful. Mastering this skill is crucial.
- Be creative and make sure they remember you: It’s important to be creative when communicating with others. You want people to remember you and be entertained by your presentations. Change up your speech. Show excitement. Be funny. Whatever it takes to get your point across in a way people will remember. As a counselor, my creative skills were put to the test this summer. Kids get bored with the same jokes and activities so I was constantly coming up with new ways to keep my campers interested and engaged.
- Be concise: People, especially kids, have short attention spans. Therefore, you want to be as concise as possible when communicating your ideas. People will listen more attentively if you’re straight to the point when delivering your opinions. Most likely, you will also receive a greater response if you avoid the excess details and stick to the main points.
- Be confident. No one will believe what you are saying if you don’t believe in it yourself. To a 19-year-old like me, playing Duck Duck Goose isn’t very entertaining. However, I convinced my campers to play it daily. If you are confident in what you are talking about, people will believe you and want to hear what you have to say.
Whether you are communicating with an experienced marketing professional or, in my case, young rambunctious children, remember these five helpful tips. Who knows? Your stellar communication skills could snag you your next job, win you a new client, or help you avoid the shrieks of unhappy children armed with a tennis racquets!