Communication is a vital key in this new century. It gives an edge to keep abreast with the fast pace of the times. Public speaking definitely works towards this goal.

The diversity of opinions today, which are often controversial, has increased the need for public speaking. People need to voice out their views to function well in society. For some four thousand years, public speaking has been the key in building and keeping a democratic society and way of life. Its influences are vast and affect almost all aspects of life, such as the way we think or act. It is also used in court proceedings, in congress, and even in the plain setting of a classroom.

Speaking in public can sometimes be a real challenge, if not a source of embarrassment; not only to normal people, but even to persons of high rank such as scholars, doctors, artists and entrepreneurs. They may have hesitations in facing an audience, often accompanied by sweaty palms, stuttering, and the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. These dilemmas often cause untold problems to the speaker (especially in self-expression) and unpleasant effects to the audience.

Aristotle said “a speaker needs three qualities – good sense, good character, and goodwill toward his hearers.” Thus, public speaking is also about developing speakers, and ultimately, decent human beings.

Whether the speech is short or long, the same rules apply, like the rule of preparation. The habit of preparing makes good speakers. Some would say that they speak from “inspiration,” when in fact they have been preparing their speeches all their lives.

Public Speaking and You

Some people are born speakers. Most are not. Hence, you are not alone when you say that you do not enjoy making speeches and speaking in front of a large audience. Stage fright is inevitable. Actors are always nervous to a certain degree before every play.

Perhaps you think your career does not entail public speaking. Well, this is where you’re wrong because no matter what your job is, public speaking ultimately will come into the picture in some ways. This chapter, therefore, focuses on the significance of public speaking in our daily lives and on some specifics of the communication process.

Four General Types of Public Speakers

  • The Avoider: Does everything possible to avoid facing an audience. In some cases, avoiders seek careers that do not involve making presentations.
  • The Resister: Becomes fearful when asked to speak. This fear may be strong. Resisters may not love to speak in public, but they have no choice. When they speak, they do so with great reluctance.
  • The Accepter: Can do presentations but is not that enthusiastic to do them. Accepters occasionally give presentations and feel good about them. Occasionally the presentations can be quite persuasive and satisfying.
  • The Seeker: Always looks for opportunities to speak. Seekers understand that anxiety can be a stimulant that fuels enthusiasm during presentation. Seekers work hard at building their professional communication skills and self-confidence by speaking often.

What Roles Can Public Speaking Play in Your Life?

Success in public speaking can open a whole world of opportunities for you. It can help you conquer new frontiers. It can broaden your horizons through personal development, influence, and advances in your profession.

1. Public Speaking Improves Your Personal Development

In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, realizing man’s self-worth ranks the highest. Giving speeches helps the speaker realize self-worth through the personal satisfaction he experiences whenever a good speech is given. The speaker becomes more confident especially when the audience responds positively. It also reduces anxiety when asked by an authority to speak in front of some people.

There was once a student who dropped a course five times because he hated speaking in front of the class. But after a self-study on building up confidence, he decided to give public speaking a try and was successful. In fact, he came to enjoy the experience and even volunteered to give more speeches.

Through public speaking tools like research, conceptualization, and organization, you have a systematic and effective way of presenting your ideas; and thus, you will be able to express yourself better. You will also become more open to other people. Furthermore, speaking skills put you in a more significant role as you talk with people of high standing. Lastly, public speaking satisfies your sense of achievement when the audience accepts you warmly. This reflects your level of communication skills and acumen. All these contribute to your self-esteem.

2. Public Speaking Influences Your Society

It is not only you who can benefit from the art of communication but society as well. Most governments heed the voice of their citizens; with proper communication skills, you can represent the public in voicing out your rights and opinions.

An example of this would be a community discussion. Usually when a neighborhood holds regular meetings, it discusses certain issues or courses of action. In the discussion, various opinions are expressed and there you have a clear interplay of public speaking.

People from all walks of life need to speak in public, whether formally or otherwise. From kids reciting in school, to folks in a town meeting, to citizens voicing out national issues; from a plain market vendor, to a president of a company. There is really no way you can avoid public speaking.

3. Public Speaking Advances Your Profession

Public speaking can help in your career, and eventually, your finances. Usually, success is gauged by answers to questions like, “How long have you been in your job?” or “Do you hold an MBA degree or something similar?” However, researchers have proven that the best indicator of success in any profession is whether the person is often asked to give speeches. Those who give more speeches tend to have higher salaries than those who give less or no speeches.

The longer you work for an organization and the higher you climb the organizational ladder, the more your boss will ask you to preside over meetings and to give talks to the staff and subordinates or the clients. The higher your position, the more your responsibilities in leading people under you; and the more you must speak effectively. From the chairman of the board to the assistant manager of the most obscure department, nearly everyone in business speaks in public or makes a speech at some time or the other.

Aside from big organizations, small organizations and businesses also need workers who are good public speakers. Take the high school coach, for example. If he is not persuasive enough to tell the school board that new gym equipment is needed, the school athletes might have to bear with the old gym equipment.

In the same way, if parents are not convincing enough when they complain about a school dress code, their children may end up still wearing uniforms in school. If salespeople cannot explain their products with a convincing sales pitch, then fewer people would buy their products. This is also true for nurses, doctors, firemen, police personnel and other professions.

The bottom line is this: Whichever road you take, you will encounter instances that require you to speak in public.


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