We’ve all heard the term “life skills.” And the skills in this category typically include the ones that aren’t given enough time on in school - but they’re skills you’ll one day need to succeed. You know, things like paying a mortgage, signing up for insurance, buying a car, taking out student loans, and yes, public speaking.
They’re called life skills for a reason - but when specifically in life do these show up?
Everyone’s life course is different - so it’s hard to say for sure. But I can speak to the moments that being well-spoken has made a huge difference in my corporate career - and likely when it might for you too.
The Interview: Oftentimes, when we think of public speaking, we think of a 1-to-many situation.. where one person is speaking to a big audience. But knowing how to speak in public can make a huge difference in interpersonal conversations as well. You want to spend time understanding your interviewer & your message, while also understanding how to properly and effectively deliver your story to the interviewer. Practicing impromptu speaking can also help you think quickly on your feet!
The Introduction: For about the first week or two of working at my job, I was invited to a variety of standing meetings where I was meeting new people. At almost every meeting, I was handed the floor to introduce myself to the group. And not just, “Hi, I’m Stephanie.” They were looking for my background, my interests, what I’ll be working on and how I’ll be working with them. So, having my quick elevator pitch prepared helped me immensely.
The Intern Project: Calling all interns! If you have an opportunity to present in front of leadership, take it seriously. At the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to present my work in front of the entire marketing department with my fellow interns, and because I was a polished presenter, I impressed a leader, made a connection with them, worked on their team post-college, and have them as a mentor still to this day.
The Executive Presence: At one point in your early career, you might have the opportunity to be in a meeting with C-suite executives. For those of you who already have, you know that this is a moment that matters. You might not say a word during the entire meeting, but having the skills to look polished, be engaged, introduce yourself with confidence and hey, maybe even ask an educated question, will make all the difference.
The Exit Interview: If you’re leaving a job, my guess is there is a reason. From a challenging leader, to a toxic workplace environment, to limited mobility, or something else, it’s natural to have had an experience at a job that makes you seek employment elsewhere. The task in the exit interview is to be honest, without burning a bridge. I’m one who believes if something is not right, it’s our job as human beings to speak up about it so the experience can be different for the person who follows you. But it’s also important to do it in a strategic way that keeps you professional, polished, and mature. Knowing your story - how you want to deliver it - and your boundaries/limitations around what to divulge, can help keep all your bridges intact when leaving a company.
There are plenty more moments where knowing public speaking skills helped me in my career. But, the long story short is that knowing your voice and learning how to be well-spoken helps you in places beyond just “presentation time.”
But if you want to focus on presentation time first, be sure to download my “Presenting to Leadership Guide” to get you started.
I shared a few of my experiences - let’s hear yours in the comments below!