Why is Communication Important for Engineers?

Why Communication Is Important for Engineers
Why Communication Is Important for Engineers
Why Communication Is Important for Engineers

Why is Communication Important for Engineers?

  • You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but they usually aren’t much good to your company or your career if you can’t express them clearly and persuasively... In fields such as engineering or finance, you often need to share complex ideas with executives, customers, and colleagues, and your ability to connect with people outside your field can be as important as your technical expertise (Bovee and Thill, 2021, p. 4).

Kettering University Online recognizes that, in the past, engineering was often seen as a technical field for which exceptional problem-solving and analytical skills were the primary requirements for success. They also recognize the landscape of the engineering industry is rapidly evolving, and it is becoming increasingly evident that effective communication skills are just as crucial as technical expertise. Which is why they emphasize the importance of effective and efficient verbal and written communication in all of their courses.

Let’s explore the reasons behind the growing importance of effective communication in engineering and highlight why engineers must develop strong communication skills to thrive in today’s industry.

  • Collaboration and Interdisciplinary Projects - Projects today are more complex and require collaboration among diverse teams. Modern engineering challenges often involve multiple disciplines, such as mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. Effective communication is essential to bridge the gap between these disciplines, ensuring that all team members understand each other’s perspectives, requirements, and constraints. Engineers with strong communication skills can facilitate collaboration, streamline decision-making processes, and foster a harmonious work environment.
  • Client Engagement and Stakeholder Management - The engineering industry now places greater emphasis on client engagement and stakeholder management. Engineers must communicate effectively with clients, understand their needs and expectations, and translate technical concepts into understandable language. Clear and concise communication fosters trust, enhances client satisfaction, and leads to successful project outcomes. Moreover, engineers are often required to interact with government agencies, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders. Effective communication helps manage expectations, address concerns, and ensure compliance with regulations, enabling smoother project execution.
  • Communication in the Design Process - Communication plays a crucial role in the design process. Engineers must convey their ideas, designs, and technical concepts to clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. Strong communication skills facilitate effective presentations, enabling engineers to articulate their vision and rationale behind design choices. Clear communication also helps gather feedback, ensuring that designs meet the desired specifications. Additionally, engineers need to communicate with manufacturing teams, contractors, and suppliers to ensure designs are implemented accurately and efficiently.
  • Project Management and Leadership - Engineers are increasingly taking on project management and leadership roles. Effective communication is vital for project managers to articulate project goals, allocate resources, and coordinate team activities. Through clear communication, project managers can set expectations, delegate tasks, and provide timely updates, ensuring that projects stay on track. Leadership requires motivating and inspiring teams, and effective communication is fundamental to achieving these goals.
  • Impact on Safety and Risk Management - Safety is a critical concern in the engineering industry. Engineers must communicate safety protocols, hazard information, and risk management strategies effectively to minimize accidents and ensure the well-being of both workers and end-users. Clear communication about potential risks, safety guidelines, and emergency procedures is paramount to maintaining a safe working environment. Strong communication skills enable engineers to convey complex safety information comprehensively, ensuring that everyone involved understands and adheres to the necessary precautions.

Some Effective Communication Tips for Engineers to Remember

Regardless of industry, all professionals should work to hone their communication skills. Next are some tips about how to improve your listening, speaking, and presentation skills.

Listening - Improve Your Listening Skills

Listening is not an easy activity when done correctly. Also, listening is just as important as speaking. Bovee and Thill (2023, p. 96) note that effective listeners:

  • Put themselves in an open and positive state of mind
  • Keep themselves engaged in the conversation by using active listening techniques
  • Respect silence
  • Do not interrupt the speaker or be ready with an answer before someone finishes their thoughts
  • Pay attention to nonverbal signals
  • Take thoughtful notes
  • Do not jump to conclusions
  • Do not focus on the personal delivery and appearance of the speaker
  • Resist distractions
  • Paraphrase (repeat what they understood back to the speaker to mitigate miscommunication and misunderstanding)

Verbal Communication – Speak Clearly

When you speak clearly, slowly, and vividly, the chances of being understood by your listeners skyrocket! Keep these tips from Verderber and Verderber (2017) in mind:

  • Use specific and concrete language.
  • Consider your pace and pitch.
  • Consider your volume.
  • Understand that how you say something is just as important as what you say.
  • Provide the right amount of information for the conversation you are having.
  • Use descriptive details and examples.
  • Use inclusive language - meaning do not use language that applies to only one sex, race, or another group as though they represent everyone.
  • Avoid using slang and jargon.
  • Be concise.
  • Be mindful of your body language – eliminate distracting mannerisms.

Public Speaking - Presentations

Whether you are presenting to a few people or a few hundred, rely on these best practices from Stephen Lucas’ book, The Art of Public Speaking (2023):

  • Consider how you will manage your anxiety. Many people use breathing exercises or visualization.
  • Tailor your presentation to the audience.
  • Be ethical in your content and presentation.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare and rehearse the presentation.
  • Be clear on your central idea.
  • Remember to have an introduction and a conclusion.
  • Use evidence to support your arguments in the body of your speech.
  • Work on eliminating distracting mannerisms.
  • Be mindful of your volume, pace, pitch, and tone.
  • Avoid verbal pauses such as “umm” or “uhh.”

Kettering Online's Innovative Master's Degree in Engineering Management

If you are interested in learning more about communication, as well as leadership, consider enrolling in Kettering University Online’s Masters of Science in Engineering Management. Modern corporate leadership positions increasingly demand professionals possess soft skills such as the ability to deliver high-quality presentations at all levels and respect diversity throughout the organization to build effective and productive relationships with all stakeholders.

One course in the Management and Leadership Certificate Program is Business Communication and Presentation. This six-week course is designed to introduce you to the fundamental principles of business communication as well as the tools and techniques used for communicating professionally, ethically, and effectively through oral, written, and nonverbal language. This course is curated to focus the learner on creating a sound writing process, how to best leverage digital, social, and visual media, and how to develop engaging presentations based on evidence with a delicate balance of logic and emotion.

Remember, in today's engineering industry, the ability to communicate effectively is no longer a desirable skill but an essential one. As the industry becomes more collaborative, client-oriented, and interdisciplinary, engineers must recognize the importance of effective communication. By fostering collaboration, engaging clients and stakeholders, facilitating the design process, excelling in project management, and prioritizing safety, engineers can leverage their technical expertise with strong communication skills to achieve remarkable success. Engineers who embrace communication as a core competency will be better positioned to navigate the evolving landscape of the industry and make a positive impact on the projects they undertake.


Also Read:


Bovee, C.L., and Thill, J. (2020). Business communication today! Pearson Education.
Lucas, S. (2023). The art of public speaking. McGraw Hill.
Verderber, K.S., Sellnow, D.D, & Verderber, R.F. (2017). Communicate! Cengage Learning.