If you are like many people, the thought of giving a speech to a group of strangers can strike terror into your heart. As an engineer, you know that employers put a premium on soft skills such as public speaking, but you’re puzzled about how you can improve your own performance.
Shoots Veis understands your predicament. A practicing engineer himself, he often makes presentations to councils, zoning boards, land-use commissions, any of the municipal bodies that contract for infrastructure. He has been on the other side of the podium, too: during a stint on the Billings, Montana, city council, he listened to a lot of engineers talk about projects. He’s seen the good, the bad, and the downright embarrassing.
In Public Speaking for Engineers: Communicating Effectively with Clients, the Public, and Local Government, Veis takes readers step by step through the process of preparing for a presentation. He breaks the main topics—speech planning, design, and delivery—into component pieces and explains the range of choices, emphasizing the importance of understanding your audience. Throughout the book, he uses an ongoing example to illustrate the path for planning, preparing, and delivering a speech. A dozen or so case studies offer tales of real-life successes and missed opportunities. In the final chapter, Veis delves into what local governments do and how they do it.
Veis offers a wealth of practical advice and enthusiastic coaching to anyone who needs to make a technical presentation to a nontechnical group of decision makers. Engineers of all kinds will appreciate this roadmap to a successful public presentation.
Christopher A. (Shoots) Veis, P.E., is a senior project engineer focusing on municipal engineering assignments involving water and wastewater systems, land development, permitting, and project management. He served for five years as an elected member of the Billings, Montana, city council.