Speak Up

Develop a speaking style that commands attention and produces results

When I was an entry-level manager, my career shifted the day I had to stand up at the monthly management meeting and say a few words about my department. I was told in advance that I would be presenting. I took the opportunity very seriously, prepared for my brief comments (less than 5 minutes), and wowed the people in the room.

That day, I set myself apart from other supervisors because of my ability to talk clearly and with finesse. From that point on, my boss looked at me in a different way and so did many other senior leaders in the company.

I have long understood the power of speaking well. Not only are you appreciated for your communication skills; you are also perceived as a leader. It takes guts, focus, drive, charisma, knowledge and certainty to get up in front of others and express yourself. These are all qualities of a leader.

Too often during my corporate career, I watched managers make second-rate presentations. It was as if they had not taken the time to prepare themselves; perhaps out of fear, lack of understanding, or even arrogance.

And yet, the single most effective way that I ever witnessed to differentiate yourself among your peers and move “up the ladder” regardless of your position, was to be a capable presenter.

Here are some tips for developing your speaking style:

  • Commit to being a great speaker and get some training. Take pride in the fact that you are honing your skills.
  • Become an expert at presenting the nuances of your trade (your business within the company) as well as an expert at speaking.
  • Be willing to take risks. Volunteer to speak at various venues within your organization such as staff meetings, sales or officers meetings, updates for other divisions, board meetings, road shows, etc.
  • Speaking well does not begin and end at the podium. Sometimes you have to speak extemporaneously. Prepare yourself for the chance encounter with the CEO in the hallway or the unexpected request to say a few words at a meeting by always being ready with 2-3 “sound bites” of pertinent progress in your area. They will love you for it.

How do you command attention with your speaking style? What results have you seen from being an effective communicator?

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