“Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king. He is an independent force in the world. Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his offices, whoever can command this power is still formidable.” ―Winston Churchill

Most people are afraid of speaking in public places. Study shows that people are scared of two things—first on death and second on public speaking. It is basically the fear that they might make mistakes or others might make fun of them if their speeches go wrong. Therefore, people hesitate to speak in public places. Of course, there are many other reasons why people are apprehensive to speak in public places. Several thinkers have doubts about whether public speaking is an art or craft. The fact is that public speaking is both an art and a craft.  

Is Public Speaking a Talent or Skill?

Several people have doubts about whether public speaking is a skill or talent. It is certainly a skill, not a talent. Skills can be acquired from training, reading, observation, practice, and experience. In contrast, talent is something people are blessed with.  They acquire from their parents by birth. If people are blessed with public speaking, it is a boon. Otherwise, people can hone this skill by reading various books, observing other speakers and practicing it regularly. Hence, public speaking is a skill. Several internationally renowned speakers had their reservations when they started to speak initially but improved and finally became great orators.

Advantages of Public Speaking Skills

As a public speaker, you organize your thoughts and speak clearly, logically and analytically. You learn to focus on what is required leaving the unwanted to the trash. You enhance your interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and spontaneity. You build your confidence and equip with competence. You become a good listener, speaker, and leader. You will be able to inspire others and make a difference.

As a public speaker, you increase your visibility in the workplace professionally. You build more connections. You develop interpersonal skills to handle various people. You can handle office bullies and difficult people. You will become more assertive. You will be able to communicate effectively with others and avert any conflicts and miscommunication. You can mentor or coach your colleagues. You can make your presence felt within your industry or sector. You get offers to deliver seminars and keynote conferences. Your market value goes up rapidly.  You can grow as a celebrity. You will be surrounded by more people. You can grow as a thought leader. To summarize, you build your credibility, enhance your visibility and build your leadership brand. You will be more marketable with ample employment opportunities. You can strengthen your CV. You can become a successful educator, entrepreneur, and leader with your public speaking skills.

Learn Leadership and Public Speaking by Practice

As you learn leadership by practice, you learn public speaking skills by practice. It requires immense passion to grow as a leader and speaker. When you look at most leaders, they are orators. They utilize public speaking skills to grow as great leaders. When you look at Winston Churchill, he played a crucial role during the Second World War. He provided a ray of hope when the entire world was beset with war clouds. He took the world out of war clouds. Hence, public speaking skill is an asset. You may be betrayed by everybody including your friends and well-wishers but the command on your public speaking will not let you down. It is more than a friend and will stand by you forever. Hence, acquire the public speaking skill to survive during tough times and thrive during your great times.  

How to Become a Great Speaker

Here are some tools to become a great speaker.   

  • Join the Toastmasters club close to you.  
  • Attend training programs to observe the presentation styles of various speakers. Find out what makes each speaker stand out from others. Ask questions at the end of the session to overcome your apprehensions.  
  • Maintain a journal and jot down their ideas and insights. You can read them during your free time to understand and absorb the content.
  • Observe videos of eminent speakers to find out how they inspire others. How each speaker begins his presentation? How does each speaker connect with audience members? How does each speaker respond to question and answer session?  
  • When you observe various speakers speak, you evolve your own style of speaking.
  • Practice presenting in front of small groups until you become more comfortable and confident. Gradually go in front of huge audiences to speak.
  • Be confident about your content.
  • Take feedback from your audiences to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Consolidate your strengths and concentrate on your concerns to overcome.
  • Practice regularly.
  • Hire a public speaking coach, if possible. You can overcome your anxieties and acquire public speaking skills within a short span.

To become a successful speaker, you must have strong content and delivery skills. Both are two sides of the coin.

If you want to learn swimming, you must practice. If you want to learn driving, you must practice. Similarly, if you want to learn public speaking, you must practice. Therefore, everything boils down to practice. The practice is the key to excellence and perfection. Hence, learn the art and craft of public speaking to grow as a great speaker and orator.

Note: This article is an adapted excerpt from my award-winning book Secrets of Successful Public Speaking: How to Become a Great Speaker. URL: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Successful-Public-Speaking-Speaker/dp/1628656107

Life is great!

Professor M.S. Rao

Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India

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