Speaking is more than just words
Free BY ELLEN BORZA, 19, Freestyle Staff Writer
Space A column by
the staff of Freestyle
A couple of months ago I wrote about how I was facing my fear of public speaking by enrolling in a course this past semester. At first it was most certainly against my will, but I had to take it for my major. It turned out that the course was a very rewarding experience.
Ask a professor, business professional or anyone with real-world experience, and he or she will probably tell you that the ability to speak clearly and effectively is an important skill to have. Google "top skills for job seekers," and communication skills will be at or near the top of every link.
Corporate communication professor Paul Argenti at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth University explained the importance of speaking skills in "The CEO's Speech: The Importance of Public Speaking."
"The ability for a leader to move people through communications cannot be underestimated," he writes. "I don't think there's anything more important."
No matter what profession you choose, no matter where life takes you, you will need public speaking skills wherever you go, so every student should consider enrolling in a course.
If there is one thing I have learned this semester, it is that it is one thing to get up in front of people and read something; it is another thing to get up and deliver something in an authentic, organic way.
As much as I wanted to ignore my professor whenever he told us not to rely on our notecards, he was right. No audience is going to care about what you have to say if you do not show in your passion and delivery that you care. You have to make the audience want to listen.
Keep in mind that speaking skills are not mastered in one day, and no one is born an outstanding public speaker.
The same article mentioned previously cites the example of the United Kingdom's George VI overcoming his stammer in "The King's Speech." If you have ever seen the movie, then you know all the effort he put in to achieve such a strong delivery.
Remember also that everyone in your class will probably be just as intimidated and frightened as you are. I had to keep reminding myself of that.
And I will admit that while I still experienced sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat before every speech, each time getting up there was a little bit easier.
Now, that horrific eighth-grade public speaking blunder is a funny memory to look back on.
So I encourage any student, high school or college, to take advantage of a public speaking class. It is well worth the time, and the lessons you learn will benefit you no matter what you end up doing with your life.