Public Speaking is Overrated
Updated: Mar 12
75% of people say public speaking is their number one fear. But I think it’s more important to be persuasive in day-to-day conversations. For most people, public speaking can be low frequency i.e. they don’t get to do it often enough to worry about it. Now compare that to the number of interactions we have with our coworkers every day, week, month, and year. There are thousands of interactions.
We mistakenly view these interactions as “just” a meeting, “just” a call, “just” an email, but in reality, each of these is an opportunity. We're judged on the quality of our thinking and communication, whether we realize it or not. There’s less room for bullshit in daily conversations. It’s easy for anyone to be their best self on stage for a 30-minute speech. But we can’t bullshit our way every day for months (or years) on a team of high performers. There’s no room to hide.
Our team doesn’t care how we are on our best day. They will judge us for who we are on our average day. It doesn’t matter if we give a jaw-dropping speech but can’t deliver consistently, day in and day out. We must focus on being consistently good, rather than sporadically great.
Now, let's talk tactics for how to shine in daily interactions at work:
Speak up more in meetings.
This one is tough for folks who are more introverted. In meetings with 10-20 people, it can be hard to get a word in. By the time you figure out what to say… the conversation has moved on. But if you stay quiet, nobody knows what or how you think.
An easy way to start speaking up in meetings:
Use the meeting chat option. If you feel weird about interrupting, type your comment into the chat box. It feels less scary. And you’re still getting your ideas out. Win-win. Half the time, folks will read your comment & ask you to jump in.
Another way to practice speaking up:
Get an accountability buddy. Ask your coworker or manager to private DM you if you haven’t spoken & they believe you’d have insight to offer to the conversation. It’s them nudging you to say “So, what do you think?” Help them help you.
Avoid what is called "backstory scope creep."
You wouldn't ramble in a speech because it's not a good use of time. So don't in a conversation. Backstory can easily take up the majority of a call. I've been on 30-minute calls where 25 min was backstory.
If you’re already doing most of these things, then you’re already creating waves of influence, but if not, use this as a nudge to be more vocal at work.