How to answer "What is your experience with public speaking and presenting?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This

Employers often ask about public speaking and presenting skills because these are important for a variety of roles. For instance, if you're interviewing for a sales or marketing job, you may be required to give presentations to clients or pitch ideas to a team. Public speaking skills are also important for leadership roles since leaders need to communicate effectively with their teams.

So, employers ask this to assess your communication skills, confidence level, and the ability to articulate your ideas effectively. They want to know if you can represent the company professionally in front of various audiences and handle challenging situations like giving presentations to large groups or addressing stakeholders.

How to Answer the Question

Start by talking about your experience. List any relevant public speaking or presenting experience, including any presentations, speeches, or workshops you've given. Discuss the number of people that were present during the event, who the audience was, and what the purpose of the presentation was.

You can also mention any initiatives you undertook to improve your public speaking and presenting skills, such as attending a public speaking course or analyzing videos of other experienced speakers. This shows that you're proactive and interested in personal development.

It's also important to talk about the outcomes of these experiences. If the presentation resulted in increased sales or enthusiastic feedback, mention it.

Remember to highlight the skills you gained from your public speaking and presenting experience. Employers want to hear about the skills that make you an exceptional candidate. For example, you could say, "I developed strong analytical skills while creating the content for my presentation, and my communication skills were put to the test when I had to present to the C-suite leadership team."

Finally, don't forget to exhibit confidence in your answer, speak clearly and concisely. Employers want to see a candidate who can represent the company professionally and capably in front of various audiences.

Sample answers

Good answer:

I have a lot of experience with public speaking and presenting. In my last job, I regularly gave presentations to clients and at industry conferences. I was even asked to lead a workshop on presentation skills for new hires in my department. I always prepare thoroughly, practice beforehand, and use visual aids like slides to enhance my presentations. I've also received positive feedback from colleagues and clients on my clear communication skills and engaging delivery.

This answer is good because it gives specific examples of the candidate's experience and skills, and shows that they have a track record of success in public speaking. They also mention concrete strategies they use to prepare and deliver effective presentations.

Bad answer:

Um, I don't really have much experience with public speaking. I mean, I've had to give a few presentations in school, but I don't really like talking in front of people. It makes me pretty nervous.

This answer is bad because it doesn't inspire confidence in the candidate's ability to perform a key aspect of the job. They admit to being nervous and not having much experience, which suggests that they may struggle in this area.

Good answer:

I have experience with public speaking in a variety of contexts. In my previous job, I gave presentations to internal teams and external stakeholders on a regular basis. I also volunteered as a mentor for a local youth organization, where I led workshops on public speaking for teens. In addition, I've taken courses on presentation skills and public speaking to continuously improve my abilities. I'm always looking for chances to build my expertise and confidence in this area.

This answer is good because it demonstrates a diverse range of experience that the candidate has sought out, rather than simply relying on past job requirements. They also express a willingness to keep improving and learning, which is a positive trait in any candidate.

Bad answer:

Public speaking? No, I've never really done that before. I prefer to work behind the scenes and let someone else handle that kind of stuff.

This answer is bad because the candidate outright rejects the idea of public speaking and presenting as something they're willing or able to do. It also suggests that they may not be as proactive or engaged in their work as an employer would like to see.

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