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Management Track Podcast

Management Track: Overcoming the fears of public speaking

John Prelesnik began to develop the skills of public speaking and marketing as an aviation electronics technician and inflight technician instructor for the U.S. Navy, where he traveled throughout Hawaii to speak at different military bases.


Today we are speaking with:
John Prelesnik
Manager of Building Automation Systems
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


"I did a tour as a naval aviation aircrew instructor at Moffett Field California, which required completing a condensed communications course at the University of Southern California," says Prelesnik. "Much of the class focused on speaking to large groups and overcoming your fears of speaking in public."
Today, Prelesnik is the manager of building automation systems at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and has presented at conferences such as Texas College and University Facilities Conference and National Facilities Management and Technology Conference. Speakers being able to relate to their audiences is one of the biggest challenges Prelesnik from speakers.
"Staying out of the weeds and not boring your target audience with details (is very important)," says Prelesnik. "Finding the right balance where your bullet points are not too short and not too long. Look for the common ground between you and your audience and make your presentation a discussion and not a lecture."


Q) What are the various types of public speaking that you have done throughout your career and what have you learned as some of the best ways to communicate and market your department?
A) I did a tour as a naval aviation aircrew instructor at Moffett Field California, which required completing a condensed communications course at the University of Southern California. Much of the class focused on speaking to large groups and overcoming your fears of speaking in public. During the early 90’s I volunteered to facilitate HIV awareness classes, which were mandated by the federal government. I traveled throughout Hawaii and spoke at Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine bases. I continue to speak at Facility Town hall meetings and most recently, I was a co-presenter at the TCUF (Texas College & University Facilities) Conference, which is a bi-annual event held to facilitate education and networking of higher education facilities professionals within the State of Texas.

Q)What is the most challenging part of communicating to properly and marketing your department?
A)Staying out of the weeds and not boring your target audience with details. Finding the right balance where your bullet points are not too short and not too long. Look for the common ground between you and your audience and make your presentation a discussion and not a lecture.

Q)How can having the skill of public speaking benefit facility managers and their departments, and in your experience how has the skill of public speaking been an overall asset in your career development?
A)If the success of many Ted Talks speakers is any indication, the power of public speaking can make you a sought after commodity for any organization or team. After several town hall meetings, I had multiple people come up to me and say “I had no idea your team was involved in all that”. Speaking at large forums allows you to meet many of your peers and discuss common issues and offers great networking potential. Overcoming the fears of public speaking will help build your confidence and help you get your point across.

Q) How has the role of a facility and engineering managers evolved over the years into needing to learn how to speak publicly?
A)The systems we manage are much more complex and as a facility or engineering manager you will need to communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders. In my role as Manager of the Building Automation Systems team, I am responsible for supporting the institution’s critical data center environments, operating rooms, MRI / DI, client equipment, and utilities infrastructure. The better I can convey through public forums what we are doing to keep their operations safe, the more confidence they will have in me.

Q)What is the best piece of advice you could give to somebody who has a fear of speaking publicly?
A)Start small and build from there. When you are in a group training environment and your specific group needs someone to present your data, stand up and volunteer. If you are really interested in building your skills, you can get involved with toastmasters to perfect your skills.

posted:  8/1/2017