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On a scale of 1-5, how important is it to be good at public speaking if you want to work in digital marketing (with 1 being unimportant and 5 being essential)?

I’m trying to decide if digital marketing would be a good fit for me, and public speaking was listed as a necessary skill for this field. Can somebody explain why this is, and what elements of public speaking exist in the field? Are there digital marketing jobs that don’t require public speaking?

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Jonathan’s Answer

The short answer is that the skills associated with public speaking are considered a base level requirement for most senior manager positions in any kind of marketing, in large companies. Not having this set of skills would require someone to have to work much harder on other skills to compensate, and rely more on others to carry the burden of things like communicating ideas, driving consensus, and working cross-functionally with other departments or teams.

What skills are associated with public speaking?
- The ability to communicate clearly and precisely, about things that are both abstract and tangible. This means having a deep knowledge of not only your field, but things a person at your level are expected to know. For example, a people manager might be expected to be able to give clear, concise feedback to a direct report on communication or behavior, so needs to have a knowledge of how to speak about those things objectively, compassionately, and precisely.
- The ability to perform, not only using tone, expression, and body language, to give color and add context to your own ideas, but to use expression and body language in an active listening role (this actually ends up being more valuable).
- The knowledge of and ability to use techniques such as rehearsing or breathing techniques to control your heartrate while performing presentations, lectures, or meetings with key stakeholders (athletes often have to learn this as part of competitive play)
- The ability to empathize with an audience, and build content for presented content that will meet the needs of education, entertainment, and time constraints, in that order.

It's not that your job will be giving speeches to large groups all the time. That activity ends up not being super efficient and might not come up often for you. But if you're smart and doing good work, you will likely have to present your ideas to small groups pretty often. Sometimes this will be your team, but often its to small groups of other people from other teams, maybe other companies, maybe vendors or customers. Your ability to present well, which includes the skills I listed above, will be how you compete well with others for jobs, resources in your own company, and, once you're senior enough, more resources and responsibility for the team of people who work for you.

Jonathan recommends the following next steps:

Search around on LinkedIn for "Director of Digital Marketing" and look for blog posts people have written and videos of their own speaking engagements. This will give you a good impression of what will be expected of you at the mid-manager level.
Spend some time asking friends or associates who consider performing a hobby about their preparation and skills building routines. If you think this is a growth area for you, feel free to try these things at home.
Try rehearsing something silly and familiar in the mirror when nobody's watching. Pay attention to your face and how expressive you are. Feel free to experiment with different expressions. Also fun to try acting out movie scenes.
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Scott’s Answer

I work in Digital Marketing for a Fortune 20 company,

People who have strong presentation skills and good public speaking skills have a good advantage in the work place, but I would NOT say it’s a requirement for a digital marketing role.

Being good at public speaking is important in any job, but I do not think it’s any more important in Digital Marketing than any other job.

I personally hate public speaking and have done fine in my career. I think if I enjoyed it, I maybe could have done better — but I would not say not enjoying speaking in public should stop your from perusing a career in digital marketing.

It’s also becoming less important as more people are remote, so most presentations are done on conference calls now anyways and not in person.

Good luck!
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Sharyl’s Answer

Public Speaking is a necessary skill in most every type of employment today, even in the digital space. While public speaking can be daunting, it can also be a space where communication skills are incredibly valuable.

With public speaking opportunities that have taken me around the U.S. and to Canada and New Zealand, digital arenas and more, I have found hours upon hours of writing the script and then practicing so it is natural is the key to effective public speaking.

Sharyl recommends the following next steps:

Know your content - set yourself as an expert
Know the why of speaking - what are you offering to others
Know they need more than they know they need so you are relevant to them
Practice makes permanent
Be confident in yourself
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Alec’s Answer

Hey Megan! Like others have mentioned, Public Speaking is an essential skill for creative or marketing roles, ranking at least a 4 out of 5 in importance. Fortunately, you can develop this skill with practice and effort.

Based on my experience as a Junior Marketing Designer who struggled with public speaking anxiety, I suggest you take the following steps:

1. Look for a Public Speaking course at a local university or online platform. See if your employer might be able to cover the cost.
2. Enroll in the course and actively participate in classroom exercises, real-life scenarios, and presentations.
3. Practice the techniques you've learned in the course, both in your professional and personal life.
4. Seek feedback from your peers and instructors to continuously improve your public speaking skills.
5. Don't let the fear of public speaking hold you back; face it head-on and grow in your career.

I'm confident that with these steps, you'll become a more confident public speaker and succeed in your chosen field. Best of luck!
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Rachael’s Answer

I've worked in marketing for 17 years. I've never needed to do a giant presentation to hundreds of people, but I do regularly give presentations on campaign analytics, and project kickoffs and updates. Mostly, it's presenting to a small-medium group of teammates or cross-departmental peers. Sometimes I'm asked to provide an update to senior leadership. For all these reasons, it's good to take a speech class or go to Toastmasters to get some practice and develop some speaking skills if that's something that doesn't come naturally to you. Like many things, public speaking is a skill that can be learned and improved. That said, there are plenty of marketing jobs that don't require you to speak at conferences to giant crowds!
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Jennifer’s Answer

I'd rate this a 3 – it's definitely a valuable skill in the business world, but the good news is that you can always work on it and get better. You'll use this skill not only for sharing ideas with bosses, clients, and teammates, but also for talking about strategies, thoughts, and personal goals with your colleagues. Since it's a skill you'll keep honing and enhancing during your career, don't worry if you haven't mastered it yet – just start practicing!
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Alexa’s Answer

I would say a 4. Remember that public speaking is a great skill to have in life as you continue to grow your career and meet more professionals. However in digital marketing you are on the computer often. BUT you will be presenting your ideas and projects to leadership and interacting with your peers. As you continue your professional development you will be able to improve this with practice and confidence :)
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Audrey’s Answer

Like many others have said, public speaking is important in most industries, digital marketing being one of them. However, I think the exposure you will get to public speaking/opportunities to speak will grow as your progress in your career.

For example, when you first start out, you may operate more at an entry level to learn the ropes/how your company prioritizes various strategies. At that point, you will likely focus more on producing work directly related to digital marketing output, and less on actual presentation skills. Your team leaders will present performance results and lead calls at this level. This is a great time to listen to your team leaders present and see how they respond to questions during these presentations. See how they prepare slides/support materials, and navigate unexpected questions/conflict.

Then, as you progress in your career, you will slowly adopt more of these types of responsibilities where you present performance results, pitch new processes/strategies, need to sell new concepts to your team. However this is a process that happens slowly in most cases, so you will have time to develop these skills. Once you get to this stage, my best advice is to prepare in advance as much as you can and practice your talk points. This is a skill that takes time to build and refine as you get exposed to new skills/people/personalities.

But for right now, if digital marketing interests you, don't let any nervousness surrounding public speaking prevent you from giving it a shot! Focus your time now on developing your expertise on the topic, and by the time your career hits the point where you will need to speak, your experience and industry knowledge will be a solid foundation to lean on.
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Megan’s Answer

Hi Megan (from a fellow Megan!) I've worked in marketing from small start ups to larger tech companies and depending on your role, I'd say that public speaking may or may not be a part of it. To others' points above, there is often a component of giving presentations, sharing out findings to larger parts of your company. However, I've found that in digital marketing specifically - running ads, coming up with media strategy, writing copy, working with vendors or other agencies to develop campaigns - that it's less about public speaking at a podium/in front of a huge group, and more about being able to share your thought process and plans to a group of people. Day to day, public speaking isn't critical for digital marketing roles, but being able to have a seat at the table and share with your team what you're working on is a necessary skill. For those who are quieter, it doesn't mean that you'll fail, in fact many of my friends are in digital marketing and are more introverted people who are super great at their jobs. I think a lot comes down to the industry that the company is in. Wishing you the best!
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david’s Answer

Hi, Megan,
Marketing is marketing. The ability to speak confidently to groups will prove necessary, not just in this career, but in any career where you must communicate ideas to groups, whether it's a group of three or three hundred. Feeling comfortable in speaking just takes practice, and confidence in your subject. I encourage you to consider it a mandatory success skill.
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Mustafa’s Answer

On a scale of 1-5, I would rate the importance of public speaking for working in digital marketing as a 4.

Effective communication is critical in the field of digital marketing, whether you are presenting a marketing campaign to a client or pitching an idea to your team. Public speaking skills can help you to communicate your ideas clearly and persuasively, which can be essential in achieving success in this field.

However, it's important to note that digital marketing involves a variety of tasks and roles, and not all of them require extensive public speaking. There are many different roles within digital marketing, and the level of importance of public speaking may vary depending on the specific role and responsibilities.
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