“Professionally Speaking” Vicki Staton Dave Kohn Lockheed Martin Corporation
Purpose • Describe importance of verbal communications in the professional environment • Discuss different engineering career paths and the importance of communications skills • Provide “real world” experiences • Most of all, have an interactive dialogue with you
Key Topics • The impact of strong verbal communication skills • The relationship between presentation skills and career progression • Effective Presentation Fundamentals • Do’s and Don’ts • A New Paradigm: The Oral Proposal
What is your experience with presentations? What issues would you like to discuss today? So…
Communications in the Professional World • Strong verbal communications are an essential skill in the business world • As future technical and business leaders, your success will depend greatly on how well you communicate • TCC is an opportunity to practice this skill in a relatively safe environment
Impact on Career Progression • Question: Can you succeed technically without these skills? • Great technical skills, weak communications skills • Destined for “back room” engineering positions • Will not advance up the technical career ladder • Great communications skills, less technical • Very strong leaders if able to effectively leverage technical team members • Strong technical and communications skills • Rising Stars!!!
Three Major Career Tracks • Pure Technical • Technical Management • Program Management
Technical Career Path • Typically your first early career position • Very hands on • Example: Writing object oriented Java software from an engineering software specification • Product development • Will typically involve varying degrees of technical leadership as experience grows • Requires continued technical learning • Career time period: First year to retirement!
Technical Management Path • Typically achieved after demonstrating technical leadership on a team • Less hands on but still close to the technical details • Must have excellent technical, communication and people skills • Typical Responsibilities: • Personnel management of a team (e.g. 5-20 engineers) • Technical, cost, budget responsibility for a product • Career time period: Year 4 to retirement
Program Management Path • Typically achieved after demonstrating technical leadership and management • Less hands on but still close to the technical details • Must have excellent communication skills business sense, leadership, and people skills • Typical Responsibilities: • Primary customer interface • Held accountable for ultimate program success and resulting profit or loss • Career time period: Year 7 to retirement
Which Path Pays More? What’s your vote? • Pure Technical • Technical Management • Program Management
Which Path Pays More? • Base pay and incentives are based on the market value of the job • The key factor affecting the market value of a job: supply and demand of your skill set • The same pay scale may apply for all three paths and is based on level of responsibility
Technical TrackManagement Track Chief Technology Officer Chief Executive Officer Line of Business Managers Chief Engineers (Major Programs) Research Fellows Program Managers (Large Programs) Sr. Tech Managers Chief Engineers (Medium/Small Programs) Program Managers (Medium/Small Programs) Technical Managers Lead Engineers Engineering Team Members Compensation is Based on the Value of Position to the Company
Common Career Path Discriminators While key skills between the paths vary somewhat there are some common discriminators: • Technical background • Problem solving / calculated risk taking • Leadership • Communication skills
Effective Presentation Fundamentals • Preparation • What is your message? • Who is your audience? • Peer engineer • Mid-level internal manager • Executive decision-maker • Customer • Does the audience have any “quirks?” • What presentation style will work best? • How much time do you (really) have? • Have you anticipated real-time impacts?
Effective Presentation Fundamentals • Delivery • Personal appearance – first impressions really do last • Style • Formal vs. informal • Interactive vs. non-interactive • Humor – yes or no? • Coverage of material – how low do you go? • Being more than “one viewgraph deep” • Consistent, compelling story • Controlling the presentation – beware the masked briefer in the audience • Handling Q&A – if you don’t know, take an action!
Effective Presentation Fundamentals • Follow-up • Meeting minutes • Timely action item closure • Personal follow-up for critical items • Informal feedback • Lessons learned for next time
Common Mistakes • Lack of preparation!! • Level of detail issues • Information overload • Insufficient detail • “Chartsmanship” issues • Beware spell-checker tools! (Lockwood = locoweed) • Last minute changes • Arrogance vs. Confidence – “incumbent - itis” Failure to get the message across
Oral Proposals • The new paradigm for the competitive landscape • Normally, technical / management / cost WRITTEN volumes • Oral Proposal Structure • Rigid chart counts and time constraints • Fixed / mandated number of presenters • Limited documentation • Evaluation/Grading of charts and/or voice track
Oral Proposals (cont’d) • Unique Issues • Preparation • Much more rigorous – LOTS of rehearsals! • Video tapes – YUK! • Selection of presenters critical • Choose wisely, if you’re lucky enough to have a choice • Consider Oral Team breadth and depth • Orals coaches can be very helpful • Charts may be more detailed
Oral Proposals (cont’d) • Unique Issues (cont’d) • Delivery • Consistency across team is critical (format, style, content) • No real-time interaction allowed • Follow-up via formal Q&A or “Pop Quiz”
“Our world class SE approach is backed up with 25 years of heritage experience…” “We have staffed this program with national experts from all over the world…” “We have driven unique innovation into every aspect of our proposed design…” Unsubstantiated claims… How will this apply to my job? $$$ - Will they really be available? Why haven’t you been doing that all along? Getting the Message Across What You Said What They Heard
Summary /Wrap-up • Your technical and presentation skills will greatly influence your career progression • Preparation is KEY! • Know your audience • Do your homework • Be the subject matter expert • Know the constraints (time, equipment, etc.) • Anticipate real-time changes • Practice, practice, practice! • Presentations and verbal skills are becoming more important, not less as one might expect with electronic communication • If this is a weak skill, look for opportunities to PRACTICE!!