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The Not-So-Hidden Benefits of Powerful Speaking

Powerful speaking is not a new phenomenon. In his 1880 book, History of England: Volume I, Thomas Macauley wrote about William Pitt the Younger, who became Prime Minister of England at the age of 24: "Parliamentary government is government by speaking. In such a government, the power of speaking is the most highly prized of all the qualities which a politician can possess; and that power may exist, in the highest degree, without judgment, without fortitude...without any skill in diplomacy or in the administration of war." That is why Pitt, who was lauded for his remarkable talent for making speeches, was a successful politician despite his lack of experience and political savvy.

I have seen what a newfound speaking ability can do for a person. Being a good presenter makes you visible, and in corporations, money, resources, and power flow to the visible high achiever. The visibility that speaking abilities give you becomes part of your overall professional growth. A colleague of mine at a large Fortune 500 company moved through the ranks with startling speed and ease. Many of his peers were just as competent, but he was a very good public speaker; his presentations were effective, persuasive events. He had an undeniable edge.

I also watched the careers of two executives at a large manufacturing firm. She was a highly persuasive speaker who had studied public speaking and ran dynamic meetings. She really knew how to inform and persuade. He, on the other hand, was a dull speaker. After five years, she was vice president of their division, and he was still a manager. Needless to say, the executives may well have been equally competent. If you don't use public speaking to your advantage, someone else will use it to his or hers.

There is just so much spotlight to go around, and it's a given that speakers occupy it regularly. Presenting in public is advertising with subtlety: You are displaying your abilities without touting them. As the old rhyme reminds us:

  • The codfish lays ten thousand eggs, the homely hen lays one.
    The codfish never cackles to tell us what she's done;
    and so we scorn the codfish while the homely hen we prize.
    It only goes to show you that it pays to advertise.

That's why you should use every speaking opportunity possible. When someone needs a speaker, volunteer! If someone else is speaking, volunteer to introduce them! Get yourself in front of other people as often as you can. The more you do, the more you will be perceived as the confident, take-charge kind of person you truly are.


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