If there is any one lesson that can be learned from the current presidential elections in the U.S. it is the importance of oratory skills. Thoughts and ideas, good or bad, are given more attention and credence if delivered by a practiced speaker. We remember leaders of the past by their speeches and the 20th Century leaders by the sound of their speeches. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, M.L. King, Reagan, Churchill and Hitler are some of the ones that come to mind. These were all men practiced in the art of delivering a message. They used the “power of the podium.”
At some point in your HR career you will be required to address a group. The more practiced you are in performing this skill the better you will be. You will stand a much better chance to make your point and to convince your audience, regardless of the size of your audience. How do you get practiced at this? Well doing it often will help, but just repitition will not be enough. All you have to do is listen to professional athletes, who get interviewed all the time, and after the 10th “uh” or “you know” you will know that practice does not do it all. You need to get trained and then practice. As someone once said “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice make perfect.”
Where can you get this training? The best place I have ever found was Toastmasters. This is a group dedicated to helping you develop, hone and then perfect your speaking skills. I have attended in the past, too long ago, and what little I learned has helped me. I know I need to go back. There may be other opportunities as well. For women there is a program called Beyond the Barrier and of course there are always personal coaches.
The purpose of this is to plant the idea that if you really want to advance in your HR career you must learn how to be an effective public speaker. It will not get you into the executive suite all by itself, you still have to have some substance in your work, but it will put you leaps and bounds in front of the next qualified person who does not have that speaking abililty.