One of the five most useful classes I took at Stanford was on public speaking.

One of the very first training classes that I had in my first few months at McKinsey was on… you guessed it… public speaking.

Over my career, I’ve given well over 150 paid speeches and have spoken at Harvard, MIT, Oxford, and many other venues. I’ve even spoken on live national television multiple times.

Public speaking is one of the highest-profile ways to both establish and demonstrate your gravitas.

Some people are naturally gifted orators. The rest of us have to learn and practice the skills to achieve competence and then mastery.

If by every measure, your “technical” knowledge and work is solid, but you fail to be perceived as a leader, don’t get credit for your ideas, and don’t get as many promotions as often and as quickly as your technical skills would otherwise suggest, there’s a good chance that you lack gravitas skills.

Your stature and recognition in an organization will be determined by the lower of two skills:

  1. Your technical competence
  2. Your gravitas habits

If you have great technical knowledge but poor gravitas habits, how you are perceived in your organization will be quite modest compared to if you had better-developed gravitas habits.

You need both sets of competencies to achieve maximum recognition for your talents.

For most people, I find their gravitas habits are far less developed than their technical skills… and this holds them back significantly.

When engineering a system for maximum throughput, you always want to look for the point of greatest constraint.

If you have an eight-lane highway that gets reduced to two lanes, the key to reducing traffic jams is not to expand those eight-lane segments into 14 lanes.

The solution is to expand the point of greatest constraint, the part of the freeway that’s only two lanes, and widen it to eight lanes.

To do anything less is to sub-optimize the throughput of the system.

If this reasoning resonates with you, I invite you to learn more about it in my Gravitas Public Speaking Practice Intensive, which will be available soon. In this intensive, 12-week workshop, you’ll have many opportunities to grow and practice gravitas habits, receiving feedback from other students, myself, or my teaching assistants to help you improve. To be notified when enrollment opens, submit the form below.

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