On a plane the other day I watched the new documentary about Warren Buffett. In it, he talks about how his office wall doesn’t have the diploma from his Columbia MBA on display, but it does have his framed certificate from the Dale Carnegie public speaking course that he took in 1952. He feels that learning to be a confident public speaker and presenter was the pivotal moment in his career.
I’ve written on this topic previously — I passionately believe that speaking and presenting skills are important, no matter where your career takes you. Being able to present to a group and articulate a point of view in crisp, clear, and compelling terms is a super-important life skill. And in the process of learning this skill, you learn a lot about yourself.
That’s why presentations are a key part of my company’s culture. Everybody at Tivix has to give a presentation to the entire team at one of our regular company meetings. Every Friday each of our offices has lunch brought in, and an hour is set aside just for this purpose. Even the most introverted engineers on the team have to participate. They can pick any topic they want — a presentation about a new technology they’ve been looking into, or perhaps a new software development methodology they’ve been reading about, or maybe a demo from a recent client engagement.
I’ve often used this as an interview screen, actually, asking a candidate to tell me about some recent project they worked on, or something in their life that they are passionate about. Because I’m looking for communication skills and the ability to tell a total stranger about something they’ve done and why it matters.
I always have my favorite Einstein quote in the back of my mind:
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t yet fully understand it.
So at Tivix, we place a high value on speaking and presenting skills. It’s an important part of our tribal culture. And I’m confident that each one of our team members has found that developing these skills has been a positive thing in their professional development and the advancement of their career.