Public speaking is many people’s biggest fear. Getting up in front of a crowd and is daunting enough, but then there’s the thought of making a mistake. Stumbling over your words, doing something embarrassing, saying something off of the script – these are all things that contribute to the general fear of public speaking.
As scary as it is, it’s a very valuable skill to have.
I remember being in college and having to give my first group presentation. I got up in front of the class with my group members to give an hour-long presentation on a topic that we chose and researched. I was terrified that I would slip up somehow – scared that I would say the wrong thing or that people would be laughing at me, not with me. As I went through my college education, we had to do these presentations a few times per semester in every single class. I got used to getting up in front of my peer group, but noticed that my fear returned when I had to get up in front of my boss and colleagues in the work force.
I started Toastmasters a few months ago to deal with this fear, and ever since my first meeting, I have been noticing all of the ways that mastering public speaking can help you. It’s not just the ability to publicly give a speech without freaking out (I think everybody, regardless of how rehearsed they are, gets nervous before a speech). You can also benefit from public speaking in many other ways.
Programs like Toastmasters and public speaking courses tackle your communication skills. If you go through one of these programs, you’ll likely find that you are speaking more clearly and eloquently regardless of the situation. You may find it easier to communicate with your partner, your friends, or your family.
You’ll find yourself being able to communicate more efficiently at work, as well. Because the goal of many public speaking programs is to eliminate filler words, you can get your point across more concisely and efficiently without wasting time.
Whether negotiation is part of your job (if you’re a buyer, or a manager), or you want to be better at negotiating in your personal life, mastering public speaking is a great way to hone your negotiation skills. Because negotiation skills start with good communication skills – and good communication skills are necessary to be a good public speaker – as you begin to become a better public speaker, you’ll become a better negotiator too.
Public speaking skills will not only help you build your communication skills, it will also give you a higher level of confidence, which is necessary to be able to negotiate effectively.
Self awareness is most definitely a skill. It’s something that can be learned and improved. It’s something that some people can be good at, and others can be poor at. Even the most self aware person may not have good self awareness skills.
Many people struggle with self awareness, but it’s learned by necessity when you are practicing becoming a better public speaker. Somebody with good self awareness skills knows where they can improve, but doesn’t beat themselves up about it. They remain neutral and don’t flounder at the thought of weakness. They also know what their strengths are and are not afraid to use them.
To be a good public speaker, you have to be acutely self aware – in the right way. Self consciousness does not create self awareness. You must know who you are, where you are strong, and where you need improvement. You need to be able to listen to yourself when you are making a speech, and then critique yourself honestly.
If you can get up in front of a group of people that you don’t know, no matter how large, and speak about something with authority, that’s a pretty big stride for your social skills. It helps you become more confident, which then in turn helps you be a better judge of character, and be more confident in your interactions with others.
Many people inwardly struggle with social skills, and being able to publicly speak can help refine those skills.
How are your public speaking skills? Have you ever gone through a formal program or course about public speaking?