I was a very quiet and shy kid, and I think that must have been evident to the adult Scout Leader that was presenting a lecture to a large group of early teenage Boy Scouts attending Leadership Training back in the 70’s. The lesson on this one day was Public Speaking, and the leader’s goal was to demonstrate the importance of being well-prepared when delivering a speech. As an object lesson, the instructor had found a charismatic kid the day before, and directed that kid to prepare a speech on some subject of the kid’s choosing, and to be prepared to deliver that speech on this day. He was to become the example of a well-prepared speech. On class day, the leader singled me out of the group, called me to the front, and announced that I would give a speech on a topic that the leader chose for me, and I was to start speaking immediately. Needless to say, the speech did not go well, and I became his example of a not-well-prepared speech. It was a horrifying experience for me, and no Scout Leader would do something so thoughtless to a kid today, but as horrifying and embarrassing as it was for me that day, it was also a memorable and important event which I still remember vividly over 50 years later.
After attending college, I got a job which required that I present the results of my work to the customer on a routine basis. My first presentation did not go very well, and although I did not get fired, both my boss and I decided that there was lots of room for improvement. That night, while thinking about what went wrong, I realized that I had fallen into the trap that my Scout Leader had warned against. I had given that presentation without being prepared for all possible eventualities. I had not been prepared to proceed if my overhead projector did not work, and it didn’t. I had not been prepared to cover some topics in the event that my associate missed his flight, which he did. And, I had not been prepared to answer some tough questions which my customers may have asked, and they did. Over the span of my career, I worked hard to always be better prepared when I spoke, and I eventually became very proficient at public speaking. In fact, later in my career, I started teaching, an occupation that requires public speaking skills more than any other, in my opinion.
STEM professionals need to be proficient in Public Speaking just as much as any other professional worker. Although many STEM students are academically gifted, many may also lack social skills that other students take for granted, for example, Public Speaking. For that reason, Public Speaking Instruction is a very important component of a STEM student’s coursework in all levels of schooling, and even in the professional workplace which follows schooling. One can never be too smart in their social skills, or over -prepared to deliver a good speech.
Applied Technology Institute has offered technical short courses for scientists and engineers since 1984. This year, ATI has decided to start offering non-technical short courses that can also be very important for scientist and engineers. One of our first non-technical offerings is a class on Public Speaking. The course will be taught by Mr. Frank DiBartolomeo, award winning public speaker, engaging seminar leader, and professional public speaking coach. His short course will be titled “Technical Presentation Skills for STEM Professionals.” Although the full course will be offered in April, there will be a free one-hour short session offered virtually in March. This will be an opportunity to meet the instructor and see what is covered in the full course. If you would like to learn more about the free session, or the course, or register for either or both, you can do that here.
As always, a full listing of ATI Courses can be found at www.aticourses.com