Ask Anthony: How Do I Improve My Public Speaking Skills? (Part 1 of 2)

February 7, 2018

(Part 1 of 2)

If you have spent any amount of time in the field of civil engineering, you know that one’s ability to speak in public can play a huge role in their success in this industry, as well as the success of that person’s firm.

I am constantly asked by engineers how they can improve their public speaking skills. In response to this question, I decided to write this two-part series. In this first post, I offer some resources that civil engineering professionals can use to improve their speaking skills. In part 2, I will provide actions that you can take to become a better speaker in public.

Here are five resources that I have found to be helpful. Please note, none of the links below are affiliate links and I receive no commission for recommending these resources.

Toastmasters International

Toastmasters is a U.S.-based nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. Essentially, you would join a local Toastmasters chapter and attend a few meetings each month where you’d be challenged to get up in front and speak to a room of supportive professionals also seeking to improve their skills.

Before I joined Toastmasters I spoke too fast during presentations, and no one could understand what I was saying. Since I joined Toastmasters, I have spoken in front of thousands of engineers in over 30 states, largely because of the presentations and feedback received from my Toastmasters group.

Speak to Win, by Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is a professional speaker and well-known self-help guru who has authored books on leadership, sales, managerial effectiveness, and business strategy. His book Speak to Win specifically outlines strategies for becoming a powerful speaker based on his own experience. The book is comprehensive and may prove to be very helpful for civil engineering professionals, especially when trying to craft presentations that will help you seek project approvals or funding from potential stakeholders.

Steal the Show, by Michael Port

I was introduced to Michael Port through his bestseller Book Yourself Solid and recently read one of his newer books, Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life.

In Steal the Show, Port outlines powerful strategies for making the most out of your appearances in the spotlight. He teaches you how to present with focus, engage your audience, manage your nerves, and much more. Drawing on his background in acting, Port has created a system that the nonactor can use to present powerfully. And because he provides a structured system, I believe engineers will find this book extremely helpful.

Dale Carnegie Training

Dale Carnegie was an American writer, lecturer, and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. He also wrote one of the most popular self-help books ever, How to Win Friends and Influence People (more on that later). Carnegie started out by provided coaching and training on communication skills for engineers and technical professionals in New York City prior to writing his bestselling book.

Since then, Dale Carnegie Training has helped thousands of professionals improve their speaking and leadership skills. I have not gone through the training myself, but have read his book several times, and know many technical professionals who have benefited from the training.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

As mentioned above, this is a bestselling book written by Carnegie that provides a framework for building strong relationships and improving one’s communication skills. Reading this will undoubtedly help you to improve your ability to connect with people and present your ideas, both critical skills for civil engineers. I purchased the audiobook years ago and listen to it over and over.

I hope you find these resources helpful in improving your public speaking skills. As promised, in my next post, I will outline specific actions you can take to improve those skills.

Anthony Fasano, P.E., M.ASCE, is the founder of the Engineering Career Coach website, which has helped thousands of engineers develop their business and leadership skills. He hosts the Civil Engineering Podcast, and he is the author of a bestselling book for engineers, Engineer Your Own Success. You can download a free video series on his website that will give you the tools needed to immediately improve your networking and communication skills by clicking here.

Anthony has also recently started the Engineering Management Accelerator to help engineers become more entrepreneurial: www.EngineerToManager.com.

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