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?
My husband is very good at public speaking, in fact during his college years he was always a leader and before he graduated he was invited to present his thesis in one of the well known schools in our country. And now he’s working already his confident grows more and more, the way he talks in public, the way he explains will really catch his audience attention.
It’s great to even know somebody who is strong at public speaking. Sometimes you can even get some tips!
I absolutely HATE public speaking…with a passion. It makes me so nervous. I can do it if it’s a last minute thing but I CANNOT do it otherwise.
I hear ya – somehow being unprepared is less nerve wracking.
One of the most difficult thing to do is to speak in public, but like anything else, if we do it repeatedly we probably find it easier and more likable.
So true. You don’t really like something until you’re good at it!
I don’t mind public speaking, but it is still nerve wracking. I’m doing a speech today in front of high school kids about my engineering career progress and I am probably more nervous than having to speak in front of a boardroom or in front of peers.
Wow, that’s so cool! Enjoy! Let us know how it goes.
I agree that communication is a very important life skill to have. That includes negotiating, social skills and public speaking. I think those with these skills will be quite successful in their career and in their social lives. I’d really love to improve those skills. I know toastmasters is known for improving public speaking skills but I haven’t tried it yet.
DO you plan on trying Toastmasters, Andrew?
Way to go Daisy Flower in seeing the benefits of public speaking!!
As a musician, I have no fear of being in front of an audience as I am a confident performer and player.
However, back in the day as a Sociology Graduate, I TA’d a lot and also spoke at a few academic conferences. These events were not without fear and trepidation! However, once I began and realized that no one was throwing rotten tomatoes at me, I actually began to have fun. I even experienced a few out of body occurrences which was very cool.
Take care DF and keep on speakin’ 🙂 All the best.
It can definitely end up being fun, once you get used to being up there. I’m glad you started getting more comfortable with it!
I’ve never had a terrible fear of it, but I just need to get more organized with it. Having some sort of structure. I’ve been wanting to go to a toastmaster’s meeting forever and just haven’t yet. 🙁
How come you haven’t been able to make it to Toastmasters? Has it been a scheduling difficulty?
I agree – preparing before the presentation can really help with those nerves and anxious feelings. One really good tip we’ve used is simply by memorizing the first sentence of your presentation which will help you get into the swings of things and feel more confident.
That’s a great tip! Thanks for sharing it, Neil.
I’m a public speaking course student in my college. I’m not good at speaking in the public places and even infront of my peers and students. But, now I’ve gained confidence to speak infront of my peers and student after going through few presentation. I also believe that I can speak infront of the crowds one day.