Workforce Visibility

Public Speaking for Recruiters: 3 Key Notes for Success.

Public speaking consistently ranks at or near the top of the list of professional and personal phobias, and truth is, it can be kind of scary.

Particularly when that public involves HR and recruiting practitioners – a notoriously tough crowd, considering. But even though it might not be your favorite thing to do, leveraging speaking opportunities can be a key way to establish your professional reputation and personal brand.

If you’re an HR professional, there’s no shortage of opportunities for public speaking. The key is knowing when – and where – to suck up your fears and start speaking. The good news: for talent acquisition and human capital leaders, there are myriad opportunities to get yourself, and your message, in front of an industry audience.


 While we don’t normally think of HR as a profession which requires much public speaking, the fact is that presenting in front of a room full of people is already a big part of HR.

From presenting at small departmental meetings to delivering training for hundreds at an all hands meeting to facilitating orientation and on-boarding sessions, you’re likely already speaking publicly as an HR expert as part of your day to day job.

Drop the Mic: 3 Tips for Industry Speaking Success

Transitioning from presenting internally on issues affecting your company to speaking publicly about issues affecting the broader industry and world of work isn’t always easy.

But for HR and recruiting professionals, public speaking can pay off big.

Here are 3 tips for getting your public speaking career started.

1. Know Your Stuff.

The first key to successful public speaking in HR involves having the professional expertise necessary to establish professional credibility.

We’ve all sat through those sessions where some motivational speaker or marketing guru talks about talent acquisition and management in broad brushstrokes, but even their mountains of studies and statistics can’t hide the fact that they don’t know anything about the actual day-to-day realities of working on the HR frontlines or in the talent trenches.

If you can bring real insights and experience, even if it’s anecdotal, to your presentations, then you’re already a step ahead.

Concentrate on topics and themes that directly relate to your professional experience and accomplishments, and how they fit into the bigger picture. 

When choosing a topic for submitting for speaking opportunities, think of a few key trends, tips or takeaways you can teach attendees.

By identifying outcomes and working backwards, you’ll be able to ensure your content not only remains relevant, but adds value.

2. Know Your Audience.

There are literally hundreds of different opportunities for speaking to industry audiences, and these are as varied in audience and focus as the HR profession itself.

Since you’ve identified what you’d like to speak about, you’ll next need to know what speaking opportunities are the best fits for that content.

For instance, a presentation on wellness probably won’t play well to a technical recruiting crowd; similarly, talking about advanced candidate sourcing techniques likely won’t resonate with an audience of labor relations managers.

Make sure you understand exactly who the audience at these events are, why they’ll care about your presentation topic and what kinds of content each organizer is looking for prior to submitting a proposal to speak.

3. Know Your Presentation: The key to being a successful public speaker in HR is the same as mastering any other skill: practice makes perfect. When selecting which speaking opportunities to pursue, consider starting small.

Local events like area SHRM chapters or area recruiting round tables. are a great place to practice speaking and communicating with confidence.

Attend a few of these events before asking to speak to get familiar with the kinds of presentations and speakers that work (and which don’t). If you don’t have time to attend in person events, consider attending a webinar or watching the live stream of a conference to see the kinds of presentations and speaking styles established industry influencers use when presenting.

While you’ll want to develop a unique and authentic style that’s distinctly your own, always remember the expectations of the organizers, audience and your own desired outcomes.

Once you’ve been selected to speak, test your material on colleagues or HR connections you’re comfortable with to get a sense of what they respond to and what just doesn’t work – constructive feedback is key to refining your material and message.

Just don't forget what really matters to you in the first place. If you're speaking about a topic you don't really care about, it's hard to get an audience to feel any differently, and you're really just wasting everyone's time. And there's enough of that in HR and recruiting as it is, frankly.

    Related Articles

    What is the Universal Workforce Model?

    The Universal Workforce Model™ is a results-first approach to getting work done. By viewing your workforce model by the tasks...

    Revisiting Talent Acquisition: What has Changed?

    Every day, workforce decision-makers face disruptive forces influencing the world of business and talent acquisition(TA)....

    7 Tips for Successful Recruiting in a Recession

    It is no secret that the landscape of the US workforce is constantly changing, particularly in the wake of the global pandemic...

    Written by Matt Charney
    With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.” Matt also serves as partner and executive editor for Recruiting Daily. Matt's blog, Snark Attack, was named one of the top 15 business blogs officially recommended by WordPress, the only HR-related blog with that distinction. Recognized as an "HR Gamechanger" by HR Magazine, a "Analyst Superstar" by HRO Today and a "Top Recruiting Influencer" by Huffington Post, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Forbes, Matt has also spoken about talent topics at events such as South by Southwest Interactive, BlackHat, Reconverse and DefCon. He also serves on the advisory boards of several HR tech startups, including Rolepoint, Universum Global, HiQ Labs, Textio, Clinch, AdRecruit, NextWave HR, TextRecruit, TrustSphere, and Human Predictions. Matt was the chief content officer and global thought leadership head for AGS. Matt moved on from AGS in 2020.