Discussions of public speaking courses bring up sitcom-like memories for some—and complete panic for others. From high school to college to professional training programs, the element of improved speaking looms large in many educational settings. While fears of speaking in public (and overcoming them) are the topic of many articles, the reasons for mastering the skill aren’t always apparent to non-performers. However, from the most minute of public speaking responsibilities to full-blown presentations and lectures, understanding that this is one of the most important skills you can have will help inspire you to master the art and reap the benefits of mastery.
What Is Public Speaking?
In general, public speaking is simply the act of presenting or otherwise communicating in a public setting. This does not mean that you have to be in front of a large crowd or on a stage—it could be as simple as presenting your idea to a team of 10 peers in a conference room—but it does mean that you will be expected to address the entire group with your ideas and explanations.
For many, the act of speaking in public brings on varying degrees of anxiety and panic. Self-doubt, lack of confidence or preparedness and even disinterest in the topic can all lead to lackluster public speaking performances. But this does not have to be the case.
The Importance of Being A Good Speaker
Inevitably, virtually any professional or motivated individual will end up in a position in which they will be expected to address a group—and for many of us, these opportunities only increase in frequency with age and experience. From the simple act of voicing an opinion in a local social group meeting to presenting a marketing strategy to a Fortune 500 company at the annual shareholder meeting, public speaking takes on many forms—but all forms have the same goal: to communicate a message to others and inspire requisite action to occur as a result.
Without effective speaking skills, messages do not translate into action. This means leaders do not gain followers. Companies cannot carry out missions. Groups cannot maintain their purpose. Goals will not be met and efforts will fail.
Conversely, effective public speaking has the power to move mountains. It can bring people together, coalesce groups and inspire innovation, energy and active participation. It creates success where there was none previously. It is a skill that can affect change across the board—and it is a skill that each and every person should put time and energy into cultivating.
Return on Investment
The return on investment from improving and optimizing public speaking skills is exponential. From simply becoming comfortable enough to relay messages clearly to developing abilities to read crowds and interpret reactions, well-developed public speaking skills allow companies and individuals the opportunity to gain great returns on their efforts and energies. Companies, teams and groups should invest considerably in activities that offer training and practice for this type of experience and encourage individuals to experiment and test their skills to grow and nurture them.