Corporate communication strategies are applicable for teaching non-science communication skills to pharmaceutical sciences PhD students

Helen Garces, Esther P. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Graduate Program in Pharmaceutical Sciences recognizes that employers value certain soft skills such as communication with non-science audiences and mentoring ability, both of which are not part of our formal curriculum. We sought to evaluate the utility of a corporate tool, the "Elevator Speech," to introduce Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate students to communicating scientific research to a non-expert audience and to understand why soft skills are necessary for future success. Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars were invited to present their research in an elevator pitch competition. A pre-survey and a post-survey were administered to participants, mentors, and judges. Judges were members of the College External Advisory Board. The pre-event survey was completed by all participants and most mentors (82%, n = 11). The post-event survey was completed by all participants and judges, but fewer mentors (27%, n = 3). Participants and their mentors hoped that participants improved their public speaking skills and learned how to communicate with an audience naïve to their research. The post-event survey indicated that participants and mentors felt that participants improved simple speaking skills, confidence in speaking, and speaking without tools/devices. The judges applauded the event but highlighted the need for formal mechanisms to improve soft skills necessary for professional development. Both judges and organizers recognized that participation was poor, and the expected content of the "pitch" was poorly defined. Intentional use of the elevator pitch model may be valuable as part of the formal graduate program curriculum to teach non-traditional communication skills and better prepare graduates for a variety of future employers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Communication
  • Elevator speech
  • Soft skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacy


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