All about Public Speaking

What is it?

As humans, our main form of communication is through our spoken language. It’s not just the words, though, it is how they are delivered that is of the essence. Public speaking can be defined as the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience. Public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face-to-face speaking of a single person to a group of listeners.

Public speaking can serve the purpose of transmitting information, telling a story, motivating people to act or encouraging people. This type of speech is deliberately structured with three general purposes: to inform, to persuade and to entertain. Knowing when public speaking is most effective and how it is done properly are key to understanding the importance of it (McCornack & Ortiz, 2017).

Public speaking as an art

Public speaking truly is an art as it requires skill and knowledge to be executed effectively. Knowing which words to use in which way, where to emphasize, where to slow down, what tone and language will touch your specific audience to most, how long to talk, when to give breaks, how to keep your audience engaged, where to add humor – these are just some of the points to keep in mind when preparing and delivering a speech.

There are many courses and classes on developing public speaking skills in which they give you the dos and don’ts and many rules to follow to be an effective speaker. However, according to coaches and trainers at Ginger Public Speaking in London (2013), the best public speaking is an art form that is created by the voluminous verbal stylings of YOU. You are the artist, painting a picture with your words, touching the hearts of your audience. It’s less about rules and more about what comes from your “brush”. Lists of public speaking rules act as reasons why you’re not the perfect public speaker and can make us more nervous, rather than help us to shine as public speakers. The more we focus on the “rules” the less authentic our speech will be.

The importance of public speaking

Throughout history, it has been speeches and public speaking that united people and has been the agent for change – both good and bad. Words and their delivery hold such great power, therefore possessing the skill of being able to reach an audience is of huge benefit. Despite all the advancements in our day and age, public speaking still remains the most effective way to get your message across to a large audience.

A leader in any form, be it in your community, family, workplace, or on a bigger scale needs to know how to communicate. It is impossible to be an effective leader and inspire without possessing public speaking skills. It helps to increase your knowledge, as the preparation that goes into a speech and the fact that you have to work out how to communicate to others effectively makes you understand your content that much better. It also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, because when you are standing up in front of an audience to talk about something, the audience looks up to you as an expert in that field. This helps to build upon self-confidence as well.

One of the worst feelings is being in a crowd and feeling awkward, fumbling on words, not knowing how to hold up a conversation. Public speaking also helps in making you confident in social situations and more comfortable around people. Therefore, it is helping you out in your everyday life as well, not just when giving a speech!

The bottom line is that public speaking skills help us in all areas of our lives – from leadership roles, to career development, to our relationships with our community, friends, and family.

References:

McCornack, S. & Ortiz, J. (2017). Choices & Connections: An Introduction to Communication.

Ginger Public Speaking (2013). Public Speaking is an Art Form, Not a Science.