Public speaking is a fear greater than death for most people. However, it is also a skill that is, in my opinion, invaluable to your career.
Every time I teach a course, I come across the fear of public speaking. At minimum, over 65% of the class is concerned about the presentation aspect of the projects. And I am a stickler for it because it is something I relish in my life. Yes, I am one of the rare people who loves to get up in front of any size audience and speak. I still get nervous before any presentation or class (for my classes, it is the first day only then it is not any nerves at all) but I still love it.
My ease with public speaking is the skill I say is most responsible for my career successes and my ability to be an adjunct professor and teacher. It is definitely a skill to be honed and practiced - I was not born with the ability to get on a stage and teach. A big part of my ability was developed as a part of my University's Speech and Debate team (Northeast Regional and NYS Championship winner from 1998, uh hum - no brag, I got extremely lucky). The skills I learned by getting up in front of an auditorium full of strangers and just giving it my all have never, ever left me.
When I first started teaching on the college level in 2003, I was nervous but able to hold my own and faked it until I made it. Teaching is and always will be my passion because I feel so committed to having each student leave one of my classes with a little more confidence in their abilities to give a presentation, to stand up in front of a group of their peers and some strangers and be able to speak intelligently and passionately about something, anything.
And the reason why is because I believe that the impact on their career can be mind-blowing if they get some comfort level with public speaking. Shortly after I started teaching, I was given the opportunity to run training for my senior management and based on the skills I had by teaching and being comfortable with public speaking to begin with, I was able to run the training with success and to show my skills to people who before that session did not really know who I was as I was much lower on the totem pole. That is just one example on how speaking skills impacted my career for the better. I became a go-to person at most of my positions for anything that required public speaking which helped and it got me in front of more people and recognized for my knowledge and ability to share that knowledge.
The TedEd blog talks about the importance of having a speaking club - the ability to share and talk about important things to the student. This is a great way to reach the younger kids and help them deal with their likely normal fears of standing in front of a group and speaking. And the Squirrelers article could have been written by me - I agree with everything said in that article. Oh and I just found a Fast Company article that talks more about the psychology of public speaking.
What do you think about public speaking and your career? Do you also like to get up in front of a crowd and speak? Why or why not? Try to get up and speak soon at work or even for fun and Happy Hunting!
Public Speaking Skills
Fast Company Public Speaking
Lisa Vento Nielsen