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Asked by Susan on July 11, 2016

What are some tips you would give on speaking in public? Specifically, in front of peers and managers. How important is it that I am good at public speaking (while in meetings with coworkers and during presentations)? Can this really further my career?

Answered by Ashlyn, Hiring Expert at Worthington Industries, on July 12, 2016

Hello. This is a great question! Public speaking will play a huge role when it comes to your career, whether you are speaking in a small meeting or in front of a large group. Some key things to focus on are eye contact, body language, and the use of filler words. It is important to maintain eye contact; if you are uncomfortable doing so, try to focus on their forehead. Body language is also something to think about; a lot of people sway back and forth, cross their legs, have their hands in their pockets, etc. and don't even realize it. You should video tape yourself and see if there is anything you're doing that may be distracting to the audience. The last thing I would recommend (and you can hear this in your recording) is to be aware of filler words, "umm", "like", "OK", etc. Listen for these when you present- if you use them a lot people will notice. Try to focus on pausing rather than using these fillers. Being a great public speaker can certainly further your career; being strong in front of an audience can do nothing but help you advance and gain more opportunities. 

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Answered by Beamer, Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., on July 13, 2016

Hello,
Public speaking can help set you apart as a leader or diminish your credibility. Having confidence, charisma and conveying clear thoughts is extremely important to your career. The good news is that everyone can learn to speak well. I spent a year leading a Toastmasters Club at my work and saw myself and others grow their abilities. I highly recommend finding a Toastmasters Club or starting your own.
As far as tips, the "filler" words can be the most significant downfall but are easily fixed. There are some great TED Talks on this but by simply being quiet and pausing when you have the urge to say "um" or another word can do wonders. Learn to be comfortable with the silence. It may seem uncomfortable to you but your audience hardly notices it. Secondly, make sure you are speaking slow. What may seem slow to you can sound very natural to your audience. Lastly, speak in simple terms and concisely get your point across. The fewer words you take to clearly communicate your thought, the more effective you will be.
Hope this helps, best of luck!

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Answered by Traci, Hiring Expert at Accenture, on July 13, 2016

The ability to speak in public, whether that be to just a small room full of peers, or in front of a larger audience, is something that not everyone loves to do, but with a bit of practice and preparation, everyone can do.

  1. 1. First and foremost, for even the most skilled public speaker to do a great job, they have to be prepared! Speaking to your small team and speaking to a large group is going to be a struggle the entire time if you have no idea what you’re talking about, so make sure you spend a bit of time getting to know the subject matter. This way, even if you stumble, which even the most skilled do, you’ll be able to pick right back up because you’ll know where to go next.
  2. Know your audience! This is probably overlooked by those speaking to a group more than 90% of the time. Who are you speaking to? With your current message, is what you’re saying going to go over their head? Is what you’re saying going to offend someone or make them feel inferior? If you are the subject matter expert, have you sufficiently explained the topic so that everyone will understand? There is no faster way to lose the attention of your audience than to forget this while preparing.
  3. The best speeches or oral reports are not read off of a sheet of paper. I know it may make you feel more comfortable having something in front of you to read, but it will also ensure that you sound like a robot and stare down the entire time. If you know you need this in front of you, by all means do, but put your thoughts in bullet form instead of full sentences. Take the bulleted idea and allow yourself to explain it, just like you would in conversation, and it will sound immediately more natural and engaging.
These are just a few tips, but a great place to start. To answer your other question, it is quite important that you are good at public speaking while in meetings with co-workers and during presentations. Do you have to be the best there is? No. Think about this though. If you’re being asked to present to your team or even a larger body, you’re being asked to do so because someone is either giving you a chance to do so and be heard, or because someone thinks that what you have to say is important enough for everyone to hear. Make sure that you take that chance and show that you can well articulate what it is that you’re working on or have been asked to present, because it will be remembered. It shows that, not only have they hired you because you are smart and talented, but that you can take that intelligence and skill and share it with others!
• Lastly, public speaking ability really can further your career, but let me say this. This by no means applies to every industry, company, position, etc. You need to feel out the culture of the company you have joined of currently work for. As you observe others speak, especially those in positions of authority, are they speaking very formally? Informally? Do they make jokes to lighten the mood, or do they stick to the facts in a more serious way? This will and should inform how you can begin to shape your speaking style. In general, when you have the chance to speak in front of your team or a larger body, you never know who is listening. Every time you get the chance to publically assert yourself in the workplace, be mindful of this. There is no better way to get the message out that you are a super star than by telling everyone in a public way!

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Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on August 31, 2016

Public speaking is a fear for a lot of people and is often a skill you have to develop. You are not alone in this. Your ability to effectively speak in public can advance or hinder your career, especially as you get further along and are seeking advancement opportunities. It is important to appear polished, well-spoken and professional. If you have a fear of public speaking, you can start out small. I first started trying to strengthen my ability to better speak in public by practicing on the phone and in meetings. If you're making phone calls, pay attention to the way you speak and use filler words. This is a great way to catch common mistakes you may make while speaking in public and it can help boost your confidence. Also, start speaking up more in meetings. This is a chance to become more comfortable speaking to groups of people. Take advantage of leading as many meetings as possible. Eventually, you should get more comfortable. Also, seek out resources in your company or community. Is there a Toastmasters group in your company? Are there courses you can take at work or through a local school? You could even start by practicing on your own and use a video recorder so you can watch yourself from the angle of the audience. Best of luck!

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Answered by Patricia, Hiring Expert at ADP, on September 12, 2016

Great question! Public speaking is one way to promote your personal brand.

Practice your presentation with a peer and be open to their feedback. Be sure your material doesn't stray from the topic and is relatable to your audience. Be confident and know your material, you never know who you'll impress during that meeting and/or presentation.

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