When engineers start to talk….

In many societies, there’s an established notion that “Engineers can’t talk”.

This had led to generations of engineers feeling inadequate, incomplete and inferior. Some organisations even stereotype engineers as too analytical, too logical, too dull, too dry, too impractical and just not useful for Senior management. Why? because  Engineers can’t talk.

I am an engineer too. I have observed this notion affecting the career prospects of engineers or those with engineering background. Many engineers don’t naturally progress to senior leadership positions. They get side lined at times.

What if engineers start to talk?

When engineers speak up, when they start to persuade, motivate, inspire and lead, they are force to reckon with. Academic research from INSEAD seems to supports this argument.

[UPDATED AUG 22, 2015] After the 2015 World Championship of Public Speaking at Las Vegas, I received a note from Rashid Kapadia, a veteran  marine engineer based in Houston. Rashid says “I couldn’t help but notice that 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners (of the World Championship of Public Speaking) were all trained professionally as engineers. I hope this fact gets the attention it richly deserves. I moved from India to the US about 20 years ago, and was exposed to a concept that ‘engineers cannot speak’ here. I find it flat-out strange, but it seems to be a sticky message.

Engineers can be great public communicators too

Among engineers too there will be those who do speak and there will be those whose do not speak. In my experience coaching people from various background on communication, leadership and public speaking, I notice that “enlightened engineers” (those who know the importance of speaking up and are committed to improve) become great public speakers and communicators. The cartoon below depicts the potential power of engineers.

When Engineers start to talk

I used to wonder why. I believe it is because with their analytical minds and orientation towards details they can go to the very depth of the message and communicate using just right words that have the most impact. Attention to detail is essential in communication.

Why is it important for engineers to speak?

We need analytical minds, we need logical minds and we need people who are detail oriented to let us understand the facts, figures and details!

Are you an engineer or do you know an engineer? Share this with them and let me know your view on engineers. (Use comments section below)

© 2015, Manoj Vasudevan. All rights reserved.


  1. Glad to read that one of my Marine Engineer apprentice batchmate Mr Rashid.Kapadia has become the first published author among our Marine Engineer batchmates in “Non-Fiction”.He has authored the book “NECESSARY BRIDGES” which is based on public speaking and storytelling for engineers and Project managers.For generations of “SEAFARERS” the average “Marine Engineer” always had the image of a total “Blue Collar Employee” lacking oratory and debating skills and Mr Rashid.Kapadia has broken that “Taboo”