I attended an industry conference and exposition in Chicago. The conference included a mixture of seminars and classes from the morning through the midday hours, with a number of good training opportunities.
One of my favorite seminars addressed the importance of communication. The keynote speaker made a number of great points during the presentation including:
Actions communicate as strongly as words
Communication must be done with truth and integrity
Communication should be planned to consider the outcome desired, the audience, the message and the method of communication
Our communications should be clear, compelling, and relevant
All are good lessons to be remembered.
Ironically, later that same day, I attended another seminar in a much smaller setting. The seminar focused on a very specific technical subject, taught by a recognized industry leader in his field.
The content of the presentation was excellent, and the speaker was very knowledgeable about the subject matter. However, it was obvious that this particular individual was also very uncomfortable speaking in front of a group. In fact, he kept his head down and did not look at the audience once. He read the full presentation from a script without inflection in his voice. Five minutes into the presentation, practically every audience member had lost interest and turned their attention to their smartphones.
While content may be high quality, the messenger must be capable of actually communicating the content. If the messenger is unable to effectively deliver content, the entire message will likely be lost—as it was with the nervous industry leader.
We are all public speakers. Whether leading a meeting, participating in a meeting, conducting an interview, or actually standing in front of an audience, you are engaging in public speaking. It is okay if it makes you uncomfortable. Most people share these same feelings. What is not okay is to allow the discomfort to ruin your message because you are unable to communicate appropriately.
Some of the most valuable training you can take is in public speaking. There are a number of venues available, from structured training programs to Toastmasters. Take the time and effort to make yourself a better public speaker. It will do your career well.