A Note on Public Speaking

PriceWaterHouse Coopers (PwC) US Assurance Leader and Vice Chairman, Tim Ryan

A double-classroom that normally served as a meeting room for student organizations was now dressed up to be a luncheon spot. On the menu was fruit salad, consisting of mangos, watermelon, strawberries, and grapes, which turned out to be quite a blessing even for the wealthier college students. PricewaterhouseCoopers Vice Chairman and Babson alum Tim Ryan spoke in the double classroom dressed up to be a luncheon with undergraduate students and staff in formal business attire, he talked a lot about his family and six children. His message was that since the world was littered with intellectual individuals who are negative…so Be Positive. Be Part of the Solution.

He even outlined a single global issue – the thriving population – but revealed three different solutions needed:
1. macro-demographics: aging population, and how social systems, retirement and medical plans should change to deal with them
2. sustainability and new accounting standards
3. growing middle class: how to establish financial legitimacy

He continued with three lessons:
1. Have a realistic sense of optimism.
2. Persevere.
3. Have integrity and build your reputation/personal brand. Bad news doesn’t age well.

My real takeaway? As a public speaker, choose messages and themes to stick to and speak of them concisely. Upon receiving questions, the format of his answers began with a story, a bigger picture first, before moving on to a more straightforward answer. Even while he might deviate a little, he unfailingly listened to, remembered, and therefore is able to answer the question directly concluding his answer. His answers were not straightforward; he focuses on key messages such as the inclusive environment and exciting opportunities to solve global problems at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the importance of his family. So shape answers to what you want to get across, but don’t forget to actually answer the question.