In his new IEEE-USA audiobook, Public Speaking for Engineers – Say It Proud and Loud, Roman draws on his own extensive career to make the case that more engineers fail because of a lack of speaking/presentation skills, rather than a lack of skills in traditional core engineer expertise areas. And, equally important, more excel at their companies and in their fields, because they are adept at speaking and presenting.
As Roman states in the book’s introduction, “Those who speak well are respected, listened to, and often emulated. Senior management wants good communicators who can facilitate the efficient transfer of information… throughout the organizational structure.”
He points out that new employees have few opportunities to interact with senior company leaders, and they need to be prepared to grab any opportunities that may arise. The author says leaders form opinions in the first five or ten minutes, and those initial impressions are hard to change. Roman especially urges employees not to waste an opportunity to utilize “the power of the podium,” which “transcends all other ranks seated in the audience. The speaker is in complete control of the room.”
He believes that the best way to make your presentation “pop” is through Preparation, Organization and Presentation.
The key to preparation is knowing your material and knowing your audience. Ask organizers who will make up the audience. Learn participants’ knowledge level of the subject. You also need to decide on your target audience — everyone in the room, or specific members of the audience to whom you particularly want to get your message (maybe an executive or a reporter).
Roman urges speakers to avoid showing off with the use of big words and jargon, and “clearly and concisely communicate important information.”
Roman encourages the reader to start at the end of the presentation and work backward, determining the “take aways” you want the audience to remember. He also urges you to pay special attention to the visuals, ensuring that they reinforce your key points, and flow easily from one to another. A general rule he gives is to have no more than one or two slides for every minute you intend to talk.
When the presentation is drafted, it is time to practice, as often as possible in front of an audience — friends, family or colleagues. He suggests having someone record video of your presentation, and then reviewing it with a critical eye. You should practice enough to be comfortable delivering it, without reading it. Roman cautions you may use your slides as cues, but always face the audience.
The author says everyone gets better at speaking as they do more of it, so he urges the reader to seek out opportunities to speak — to school groups, congregations or local organizations. (Roman got his practice as part of his company’s speakers bureau.)
Roman gives plenty of additional advice, from always having a spare copy of your presentation (hard copy or electronic), to getting to a speaking location early. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the surroundings, the additional lead time will allow you to talk with audience members, gain an understanding of their interests and concerns, and if possible, work this input into your talk.
This audiobook is ideal — whether you are just starting your public speaking journey, or are an experienced speaker looking to take it to the next level. Public Speaking for Engineers – Say It Proud and Loud is free for all IEEE members at the IEEE-USA Shop.
Harry T. Roman holds 12 U.S. patents. He was named a Distinguished Technology Educator by New Jersey Technology Education and Engineering Association. IEEE has honored Roman with a Meritorious Achievement Award for developing continuing education products for IEEE members — as well as with an Outstanding Engineer award. Roman is an advisor/author to the Edison Innovation Foundation; and he is a docent/special lecturer at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, in West Orange, New Jersey. Throughout his engineering career, Roman has worked with schools, bringing the excitement of real-world problem-solving into the classroom.