A Skill That Pays the Bills

Our summer interns were asked to make individual presentations on various topics recently. Evidentially, the thought of standing in front of firm partners was so terrifying that I was brought in to give them a few pointers and a pep talk. I’ll share with you what I told them.

First and foremost, you must know how to communicate to succeed in business today – period. It’s not enough to be technically proficient. The higher you move up the ladder, the more you will have to get comfortable speaking to groups both large and small. But the good news is that PUBLIC SPEAKING IS A CRAFT. A skill. Something that improves with time, practice, and honest feedback. In short, the more you speak, the easier it gets.

The second thing to know about speaking is the 60/30/10 rule of communication. In other words…

60% of communication is body language. Your audience won’t rememeber what you’re saying, but they WILL remember whether you appeared nervous or comfortable.

30% is how clearly you speak. Do you have a logical flow to your presentation? How well are you making your points? It’s not so much that people actually remember your key ideas (see below), but they do pick up on how authoritative you seem, your tone, and the general cadence of your words.

And a mere 10% is the message. That’s right. People are going to forget 90% of what you tell them the moment they leave the room. Once you understand this, preparing suddenly becomes a lot easier. Tomorrow I’ll post more on this subject, specifically how to plan for a presentation of your own.

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