Speak Up!

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“Speak up, please,” the teacher chimed in as I stood at the front of the class, my notes crumpled in my fidgety hands.
 
“For you to share your ideas, we need to be able to hear you. Oh, and look up, please.”
 
I was 12 years old. I was staring at my shoe tops. 
 
I had spent days in the school library researching how bats use sound to navigate in the thick blackness of caves.  I had a binder full of notes.  I rehearsed for hours.  I knew my stuff. 
 
But if I wasn’t able to speak up, my teacher wouldn’t have any idea.
 
The same holds true for us at work.  As adults, however, it’s rare we are required to present.  Instead, it is up to us to seize opportunities to present; to speak up.
 
Here are five reasons why you should jump at every opportunity to present at work, even if you’d rather not.
 

1. It elevates your visibility

When you present, people take notice, and that attention matters. A lot!

In his award-winning book entitled,Empowering Yourself, Harvey Coleman identified three essential factors to professional success: “performance,” “image,” and “exposure.” And while we would like to think that it’s only our performance that counts, Coleman’s research indicated that it was the least important of the three factors (10%), while image (30%) and exposure (60%) were both far more important when it came to advancement.

Standing up and presenting is the best way to gain professional exposure, enhance your image, and draw attention to your performance.

2. It connects your work to larger organizational goals

Presentations are your opportunity to explain how your work really matters.

Organizations care about their established goals. Your work is most valuable in the context of those goals. And when you make a strong case for the nexus between your work and achieving a corporate goal, your work instantly becomes more valued and you become more valuable.

Presentations are a wonderful opportunity to illustrate exactly how your work accomplishes larger goals. Do that and management will take notice.

3. It showcases a high-demand skill

Public speaking is a critical professional skill. Projects of all types depend on people to clearly and passionately present them—both internally and externally. Executives understand this.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities[1], 80% of executives and 90% of hiring managers identified “Oral Communication” as an essential intellectual and practical skill.

Every time you present you advertise that you have this essential aptitude, and the next time your employer has an important presentation they will be more likely to think of you.

4. It builds professional connections

Leading a presentation automatically places you in a position of expertise and leadership. Presentations are also often a catalyst for collaborative work. Even the Q&A session at the end of most presentations is an opportunity for people to come together, share ideas, present plans, and discuss the future.

Taken together, each time you present you are put in a position to develop deeper and more consequential relationships with your colleagues.

Ultimately, you become the glue that binds people and projects together.

5. It boosts your professional credibility.

Presenters, by default, are viewed as experts. They are highly visible leaders. Executed well, presentations also showcase the speaker’s experience, insight, and talents.

It’s one thing to possess a skill articulated in a job description, but it is something entirely more valuable when it’s on full display during a professional presentation.

In general, presentations afford you the opportunity to demonstrate that you know your stuff!

So the next time there is an opportunity to present at work, jump at it. Don’t wait, like the 12-year old me, to be required to present—the situation may never arise and you will be missing one of the best opportunities to elevate your professional profile and set yourself up for promotion. Of course volunteering to present is only the first step. Next up is knocking it out of the park…

[1] https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/1KeyFindings.pdf

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