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The skill that can accelerate your career

Written on Mar 30, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager   

While some people dread the thought of it, public speaking is a skill all those in the accounting profession can use to improve their career prospects. 

“I see it everywhere,” said Eileen Smith, founder of SpokeSmith. “It’s happening when you’re presenting to a client, doing client management, even when you’re speaking at a staff meeting. Every one of these is an opportunity to establish your credibility and connect with your audience.”  

Smith is the keynote speaker at the upcoming CORECon Conference on May 23, and said public speaking is an integral part of the work environment. It impacts earnings, engagement and image.  

Smith said public speaking practice is essential if you’re speaking on a panel or at a  conference, but those aren't the only reasons to strengthen this skill.  

Executive presence is also critical to public speaking, Smith said, and it’s about how you present yourself. If you have a strong executive presence, more people will be willing to listen to you and follow you in the workplace.  

“It’s the gap between merit and success,” she said.  

Smith said it’s normal to be nervous about public speaking. She said practice and preparation is the most important piece to getting better, and reading what you’d like to say out loud can be incredibly helpful.  Consider what you’d like to say ahead of time and tailor that message to the audience.  

“Practice out loud,” she said. “There is a large gap between the written word and spoken word. You will find better ways to express yourself once you practice out loud.”  

Instead of feeling anxious about the presentation, she said to focus on positive visualization. Reframe nervousness and anxiety as excitement.  

“The symptoms of being nervous and excited are the same,” Smith said. “It’s all about the mindset of how you think about those symptoms. These skills can increase the trajectory of every person’s career.”  

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