You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t speak effectively, no one will know it. Your managers, peers, colleagues, customers, clients, and investors will judge your skills and abilities by the way you speak.
If you are one of those people who are deathly afraid of public speaking, you are not alone. Many studies say that people rank the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death. Jerry Seinfeld said it best: “At a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.” You may say that it isn’t fair or accurate to judge a person’s professional abilities by the way they speak in public, but that’s the way it is. Many things in the working world aren’t fair. Like it or not, you will be judged by the way you speak.
You might hope to avoid public speaking as part of your job. If you chose to be an accountant, software programmer, or in- vestment banker because you believe that as long as your debits and credits balance, your software functions, or your deal closes, you won’t have to speak in public. That could not be farther from the truth.
Job function doesn’t matter. Your role in an organization doesn’t matter. Your ability to express your ideas, thoughts, and opinions verbally will have a great impact on your career. You will still need to sell a product or service to a customer, rally your team to take action, persuade a business partner to adopt your viewpoint, convince an investor to invest, or argue your case before a jury.
Next week, read Part 2 of this post, “How to Practice and Improve Your Delivery”
This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career