Give lots of presentations

At university and as a graduate, presenting to a group of people was always billed as A SCARY THING which we should get really nervous about and avoid at all costs.

While your first couple of presentations might be a bit ropey, the only way to get better is to practice, and it is best to dive in and practice as a young graduate when the stakes and expectations are lower.  Rather than hiding at the back whenever anyone asks for volunteers to present, put yourself forward sometimes.

A decent one-day course on how to give better presentations is very useful but not essential.

There are loads of good reasons to give presentations about your work, whether in public or just within your organisation:

  • Collaboration: other people will come to you if they are working on similar things, have ideas which might help you or if they have a related problem which you might be able to solve.
  • Recruitment: people might remember you and offer you work – perhaps even several years later.  Or you might find your next engineering recruit in the audience.  Remember, many of the best jobs are not advertised.  I got one of my best jobs by collaring an engineer after he gave a public talk and asking him for a job.
  • Sales: I would be more likely to buy your product or service if I had seen a competent engineer talking about it, and maybe your customers would too.
  • Clarity: explaining your ideas helps you to put your thoughts in order.
  • Authority: For some reason presenting about a topic can make you the recognised authority on it even when there are actually lots of equally competent people around you.  Sometimes this can be useful.
  • Confidence.  Giving a successful presentation is a great confidence booster.