Kokocki

Jim Kokocki, immediate past president of Toastmasters International, spoke to students about oral communication and leadership in a lecture Thursday afternoon.

Despite the very digital world we are growing into, Jim Kokocki maintains that face-to-face communication is still very relevant and very critical.

He traveled from Canada to speak to Iowa State students on Thursday afternoon about Toastmasters, leadership and oral communication.

Kokocki is the immediate former president of Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization that focuses on bettering public speaking and leadership skills with leadership in practice.

He also chaired the board of directors, served as an internal ambassador and an external ambassador. As an ambassador, he realized that people around the world want to learn how to communicate.

Kokocki said there are three things people need to learn in order to properly communicate: knowledge, practice and feedback.

He pointed out that employers look for communication skills but said learning to rely on digital communication can detract from the face-to-face communication and soft skills that employers crave in their employees.

“Technology has emerged greatly; it’s very helpful to our lives,” he said. “But we need to feel the humanity. Face-to-face communication is really critical.”

He provided an instance in which oral communication would be necessary: conflict. Solving it over email is difficult, he explained. Instead, voice why you’re upset with others and let them voice why they’re upset with you.

“You don’t need to agree with them,” Kokocki said. “You need to acknowledge they’re heard.”

Michael Guessford, junior in management information systems, agreed that talking about conflict is vital.

“I feel like it is very important to be very transparent when you’re communicating with people,” Guessford said.

He said people need to learn to voice the goods and the bads, the ugly and the nice.

Kokocki also briefly discussed how Toastmasters can improve leadership, saying it gave him confidence to speak up. He said that leaders focus on the future, have a vision and develop their people.

“Management is about the organization today,” he said. “Leadership is about the organization today.”

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