Why “Engineered to Speak”​ should be the next book you read for your professional development goals

Ryan Boettger – Editor, Book Series in Professional Engineering Communication, Wiley IEEE Press

Engineered to Speak: Helping You Create and Deliver Engaging Technical Presentations launches today! I also have a limited number of promo codes for 25%-35% off the sale price. DM me if you would like a code for the launch date.

Take a few minutes to preview the book because it will quickly tell you what it’s NOT and therefore show you why this is a book that you will use for years to come and recommend to your colleagues and friends.

This is NOT a speech communication book for generalists.

Engineered to Speak is focused on the speaking situations that are relevant to engineers and other technical professionals. For modern STEM professionals, technical knowledge is just not enough. These professionals also need the skills to communicate their ideas effectively and create opportunities for collaboration, support, and career advancement. Authors Alexa Chilcutt and Adam Brooks know this, so they took the time to extensively interview engineers across industries.

You have the opportunity to preview some of Chapter 1 where Alexa and Adam emphasize why soft skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively, are particularly relevant for 21st-century STEM professionals. This chapter acknowledges three different audiences: managers, engineers and technical professionals, and students. Alexa and Adam provide specific and relevant content for all. I personally enjoyed working with them on Chapter 10 because it features four engineers who reflect on how they have successfully applied communication skills in their careers.

This is NOT a book focused on formal presentations

Yes, delivering a formal presentation is one of our biggest phobias, but it is only one type of speaking situation that engineers encounter. In fact, engineers engage with both internal and external audiences through meetings, training, and sometimes selling.

Alexa and Adam know this too. One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 6: Perfecting Your Pitch. Here, Alexa and Adam show you how to construct a narrative for delivering even the most technical, complex information. They also demonstrate how to scale this delivery for various time limits and situations. These are great strategies for job candidates who only have an 18-floor elevator ride to pitch their experiences to hiring managers, or an engineering team who need to pitch potential solutions for a faulty product.

Most other speech comm texts focus on how to deliver technical information with little attention to the quality of that delivery. Alexa and Adam spotlight the rhetorical aspects that make that delivery persuasive and therefore convince stakeholders to take action.

This book was a pleasure to edit. Alexa and Adam put tremendous effort into tailoring their book for STEM professionals. After they finished the first draft, we all spent an intensive two days at the University of Alabama library, moving and restructuring content; determining areas that could be improved with deeper interviews; and refining the message that spoke best to managers, engineers and technical professionals, and students. We went through a good amount of easel pad paper and dry erase markers to bring you the finished product. I hope you enjoy it, and that the content elevates your classroom learning experience or your firm’s next communication workshop.