by Dan Cook
Peter Khoury wants to talk about how people communicate, not what they communicate. He believes that the way in which public speakers deliver their message is just as important as the message itself.
Khoury, a well-known public speaker who left the tech world to become a public speaking coach, will be among the featured speakers at PNSQC 2016 this October. So everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to find out how a high level public speaker presents before a crowd.
Khoury said public speaking is becoming such an important part of the successful tech professional’s career path that many top tech employers now offer internal training programs. And, he said, they look for public speaking skills during the hiring process, because a good presenter can be a powerful brand broadcaster.
“There are plenty and plenty and plenty of opportunities to present today, at conferences, through webinars, and with that comes a huge risk,” he said. “The risk can be to you, to your employer, your company, your manager–that’s the stress that, once you get up to present about this topic, you might do great and be a great brand contributor and make your manager look good. Or you can do bad and you can be a liability. And this happens a lot.”
How important is public speaking to one’s career? Khoury said he had one tech client who came to him for help with presentations. He was stuck in his job, making $65,000 but unable to get a raise or a promotion. Khoury worked with him to upgrade his presentation skills, and his career took off. Soon, he was making $165,000, “and only because of his improved communications skills. Nothing else had changed.”
Another example reported in the British Journal of Medicine involved a live study of presentation skills. Researchers booked two featured speakers at a medical conference, one an actual doctor, the other an actor who knew next to nothing about medicine. Following their respective presentations, audience members were asked to rate them based upon which “doctor” they would rather work with. The actor was the audience’s overwhelming choice.
Like it or not, presentation capabilities are the new glass ceiling, Khoury said. If you present well, you get ahead. If you don’t present in public, or do so poorly, you’ll hit the ceiling and stay stuck.
“How you communicate matters a lot,” he concluded. “You have to have a core idea, of course, but you also need a way to communicate it better and demonstrate value. And a lot of times that’s more important than hard work.”