What do you call a practice whose fear:
- Pervades 27 million Americans
- Cuts an employee’s wage by a tenth
- Prevents promotion to management of at least a seventh of the employees
- Believe it or not, exceeds that of even death!
Do you get a hint of what I am driving at? Yes, it is public speaking! For some reason, it is the one exercise that is so dreaded that it has come to be closely associated with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Nearly nine out of ten Americans with SAD have a fear of public speaking.
In this blog, I want to give you a deep understanding of public speaking and all its elements. My objective is to help you, my readers, be better informed about public speaking and overcome some of the negatives associated with it.
Before I begin my blog, I would like to draw your attention to a lovely starter on this topic. Why not go through this course on public speaking that has been beautifully crafted by none less than T J Walker, the world-renowned guru of public speaking coaching? For those who don’t know him, T J Walker is what Stu Miller, Viacom News Producer, regards as the world’s leading media trainer. So, this is a high value course for anyone who wants to take steps to becoming a professional speaker.
Alright, let us now start exploring the rest of the topics in this blog. I will be covering the following topics in this blog on public speaking and its elements:
- What is public speaking?
- Is public speaking easy?
- What is the hardest part about public speaking?
- Importance of public speaking
- What aspects of life are improved by learning public speaking?
- Why is the ability to speak in public a good skill to develop?
- What are the 7 elements of public speaking?
- Types of public speaking
What is public speaking?
Let us begin at the beginning. Let us get down to understanding public speaking in its bare essentials. The phrase is simple enough to comprehend: speaking in public. But why is the public important here, and who is the public we are talking of? One can speak to one’s wife (note that I said, “speak to”, not “speak against” in this case) or children, or to a shopkeeper. Do all these qualify for public speaking?
No. Let us get a clearer definition of public speaking from the source we all love: Wikipedia:
“Public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face-to-face speaking of a single person to a group of listeners. Traditionally, public speaking was considered to be a part of the art of persuasion. The act can accomplish particular purposes including to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Additionally, differing methods, structures, and rules can be utilized according to the speaking situation.“
From this clear definition, it is understood that public speaking is something that is associated with an orderly delivery of a well-structured, formal content by a person or persons to a defined audience. This is what differentiates public speaking from ordinary speaking.
You could consider the various presentations that you give at office, the talk you give at a forum such as TED, or the speech that company board members give at the annual general body meetings, as very notable forms of public speaking. While still on this topic, let me introduce you to another beauty from T J Walker: a course on how to speak to large audiences.
Why is it important?
We have some idea of public speaking. If public speaking is such a facilitator or a barrier -depending on how you see it-to so many careers, it has to carry quite a lot of importance, for sure. Let me explain just a few reasons for which public speaking is important:
Marketing oneself: First and foremost, public speaking is the easiest way to market oneself. Like it or not, we all have our own constituencies. The way you communicate to them decides whether you will be accepted by this crowd or not. This constituency can be our clients, our colleagues, our workplace, our friends, our family, and so on.
Presentation is the key to marketing, and this is what well-honed public speaking skills give. One of the core qualities of this profession is being fearless. Discover how to gather courage and confidence and deliver a kickass presentation even if you hate it, here!
One who is able to speak well in public has a great influence on the people around him. Being a good public speaker gives the speaker the confidence to build and spread this influence. We have heard about how some great speeches have stirred people into action. Notable examples include speeches by historically famous orators such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and sadly, Mr. Evil Incarnate, Adolf Hitler.
Promoting overall growth: Well, you may wonder how being good at public speaking can promote overall growth among people. Well, it is universally true that anyone who can talk well in public has high zeal and motivation that helps achieve many things in life. Never forget: the fear of public speaking goes a long way in preventing many people from realizing their true and full potential, even if that was not related to communication abilities.
Is public speaking easy?
Well, this is one question that keeps raising the curiosity of anyone who has some interest in the topic of public speaking. When one looks at the statistics presented above pertaining to public speech, this is quite understandable. Now, the answer: yes and no!
Indeed, public speaking can be easy if you are naturally inclined towards it or are gifted at it, have trained for it, or have a real desire to succeed at public speaking.
On the other hand, it is one of the most dreaded areas of a person’s life, if you fit into none of the above. This is true for all areas that challenge the human mind, right?
So, how does one make public speaking easy? Simple: when one packs one’s speeches with clarity and purpose and is in control of the speech.
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What is the hardest part about public speaking?
This question is closely aligned to the previous one. I would say this is a very subjective and broad question. If someone asked you the hardest part of writing a physics examination, what would your answer be?
Even if you are a telegenic personality or are of an extrovert nature, there could be certain vulnerabilities when it comes to public speaking. Having said this, there are a few aspects of public speaking that make it a hard art. Let us get down to getting a psychological perspective to the toughest part of public speaking:
- The fear of being judged
- Not being confident about how we appear physically to our audience
- The fear that the audience may taunt us for an inadvertent error or goof up
- Being overawed or intimidated if the crowd is packed with achievers.
What aspects of life are improved by learning public speaking?
Public speaking is such an art that once one masters it, there is an automatic improvement in many other aspects of life, even unrelated ones. How and why? Well, that is the wonder that public speaking is. Once one gains a hold over this art, one’s personality improves. When this happens, there is added confidence in one’s own ability to persuade people around her and to succeed in life. A successful public speaker builds an image and a personality of self-belief and poise. Once a person gains others’ confidence and trust, there is a renewed energy that flows from her inner self, and this gives her a tremendous value in her social and professional circles.
Why is the ability to speak in public a good skill to develop?
In related sections, I have more or less answered this question. In addition, however, I should say that the ability to speak in public is a great skill to develop not only from one’s social or personal perspectives, but also because it can be a lucrative career!
Let us take a look at some of the career options for those who want to make a full career in public speaking:
This is a highly sought-after profession in places such as the US. A spokesperson for a political party or a business is in high demand, and can expect to earn between $31,000 and $95,000.
A news anchor has the potential to not only earn a decent pay; she can become a recognizable face! A news anchor who is good at her job can develop a great circle of friends and contacts and earn handsomely, at between $28,000 and $146,000.
This is another of the highly honored and coveted job openings that public speakers can get. If you have the ability to goad people to unleash their potential and help them grow, well, the sky is the limit to your own growth. Your pay can start at $23,000 if you have just started out, and can go all the way up to almost four times that with experience and expertise.
What are the 7 elements of public speaking?
Academics classify seven elements that make up public speaking. These are:
Sender or speaker: The most important element of any public speaking has to be the person who is doing that, without which public speaking is inconceivable.
Ideas: Okay, so the speaker has arrived. But what on earth is she going to speak about? The speaker has to have clear ideas of what to speak, which is why the ideas sit right up there among the elements of public speaking. By the way, I dug up a lovely learning piece on how to communicate your ideas to people in the most glib fashion, as if you were telling your audience a story, yet gaining influence over them! I am sure you will truly enjoy this course.
Encoding: This is more of adding a few elements such as images to make the speech more interesting.
The channel, or the forum, can be another important element of public speaking, because this largely determines the nature of the content.
Receiver: Needless to say, the person who receives the communication is a critical element of public speaking. This is another core determinant of the way the speech is going to go.
Decoding: Decoding or perception is important in public speaking because one may communicate a message, but how does it go with the audience? This is very important to gauge.
This rounds up and completes the communication. The way public speaking goes down with the audience is very important in understanding how to improve.
Types of public speaking
Let me traverse to the final aspect of this public speaking blog: its types. It is generally agreed that there are four broad types of public speaking. These are:
- Ceremonial speaking: Those that are given on specific occasions such as commemorations, graduation ceremonies, banquets, and so on.
- Informative speaking: As suggested in the name, this is the speech given purely to convey some or another kind of information to the audience. College or school lectures are the prime example of informative speeches.
- Persuasive speaking:
Again, this is pretty self-explanatory. This kind of speaking is the preserve of politicians, certain kinds of celebrities, and a few other public figures.
- Demonstrative speaking: This is an in-depth explanation of how certain things work.
Public speaking is one of the highly valuable talents a person can have. It can be cultivated, even though some people may be born with the ability to speak in public. This ability could at best make it a little easier for such people. This in no way means that others cannot catch up. Do you agree?
What do you think needs to be added to this blog? Please feel free to write to us. We love to hear from you!
Summary of the blog:
- Public speaking is a highly valued, yet feared skill
- People with this skill are in high demand
- Those who have mastered public speaking also see success in many other areas of life
- There are seven elements of public speaking
- There are four kinds of public speaking