Don’t Ignore Opportunities to Celebrate Engineering is a guest post by
Shoots Veis, P.E.
It was Engineers Week and I attended a nice banquet to celebrate. The evening commenced with drinks and socializing among local engineers and their guests, followed by a decent dinner. The program began mid-meal, with the emcees telling jokes and getting the proceedings underway. First up, scholarships were given to local high school seniors intending to study engineering. The outreach events from the past year were then highlighted and a new batch of Professional Engineers were given plaques after reciting the Engineers’ Creed. A heartfelt moment was shared when a new member of the Engineering Hall of Fame was introduced and reflected on his career.
The evening went along fruitfully until the Project of the Year awards. All the goodwill and energy in the room built up over the evening was quickly drained from the room with back-to-back dreadful speeches by engineers receiving Project of the Year awards. It was like an iron curtain dropped to halt all of the evening’s enjoyment. The first engineer/speaker received the small project award. He was unprepared to speak about the project, rambled off subject, and could not make himself heard. It was dreadful.
The next speaker was receiving the Project of the Year award for a large project. Again, the presenter was unprepared, and made an important project in an important area seem extremely bland and uninteresting. It was obvious that the audience was trying to figure out how to look graceful while rushing to the exits, instead of listening to the speech. Who could blame them? These two speakers drained the energy from the room because they could not be bothered to prepare for a significant speech.
As engineers, we miss so many opportunities to provide people with an understanding of the important work we do, because we fail at public speaking. You could argue that the banquet was attended by a group of engineers, so an effective public presentation was not needed to highlight engineering. However, it was also attended by spouses who probably did not understand many aspects of engineering but might have wanted to. The speakers missed a chance to highlight the interesting engineering projects for a group of students who had won a prestigious scholarship to study engineering. Finally, the speakers missed an opportunity to inspire the students’ parents, who would have been proud to see what their kids could become if they pursued engineering.
These speakers had been notified in advance that they were receiving awards, so they could have made the effort to prepare a presentation. They chose not to prepare and gave terrible speeches. They missed the opportunity to promote engineering and highlight the great projects they worked on.
About Shoots Veis:
Shoots Veis, P.E. is the author of Public Speaking for Engineers: Communicating Effectively with Clients, the Public, and Local Government. He is a Senior Project Manager 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, MT city council. Shoots enjoy speaking to engineers about the benefits of public speaking.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions on public speaking opportunities in your engineering career.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success