Imagine post-college you. A successful nurse, highly dignified businessperson, acclaimed author, prosperous doctor, well-respected educator or whatever hope to become. Chosen to receive a prestigious award in your field, you find out the award comes with one condition—make a speech at the celebratory luncheon. This news makes your mind go one of two ways. You’ll think, “Wow, what an honor,” or, “I think I’ll pass, I don’t do public speaking.” You won’t know it then, but realize now that you could’ve solved the problem back in college with a public speaking class. Unlike regular classes like World Literature or College Algebra, you will use what you learn in public speaking every day.
1. Normal Conversations
Humans are social people—in fact, I bet you talk to someone every day. While you can talk with your best friend with whatever slang and informal language you want, when it comes time to talk with professors or potential employers, you don’t want to accidentally slip a bunch of “like”s, “um”s, “uh”s or profanities. Public speaking classes help you become conscious of the way that you speak and clean up your conversations with simple exercises.
One lesser known benefit of a public speaking class includes the listening skills that come with it. Many professors choose students to peer review speakers and give feedback. No matter how boring the speech sounds, you must to listen and pay attention in order to give your classmate helpful information on how to improve (also because you don’t want to hear them bore you to death again).
Interviews can be really intimidating. Strangers ask you a bunch of semi-personal questions that you try to answer well enough to convince them to hire you. In a highly competitive interview, you have very little room for error. So basically, make sure you don’t screw up and do your best. In public speaking classes, you have opportunities to ask questions after speeches, where you as the expert on a topic need to respond as eloquently and concisely as possible. The background from the public speaking class will prepare you for the unknown world of interview questions.
4. Weddings and Special Occasions
Chances are pretty good that someday your roommate, sibling, cousin, friend or coworker will get married. And maybe you’ll get asked to give the toast to their beautiful love or read at the ceremony. You may think that picturing everyone in their underwear will seem funny and help to relax your nerves, but when you stand up and start to anxiously sweat and stutter you’ll wish you practiced your speaking skills with an audience beforehand—or you can avoid this whole awkward scenario and take public speaking now.
5. Management Positions
In management positions, people to constantly tell others what to do and lead team meetings. Managers need to speak assertively without coming off as aggressive. Guess what? You’ll learn how to give persuasive speeches in a public speaking class. Some people are born with the ability to get people to do what they want them to do when they want them to do it. The rest of us need to learn to use the right verbs and language in a public speaking class to accomplish the same goal.
6. To Look Good
The ability to confidently speak in public makes you marketable, opening up new pathways and opportunities. If you’re in an interview and your potential employer asks if you feel comfortable giving presentations, you don’t want to say “sort of” or “no.” What happens when all of a sudden you start giving a presentation at work and start turning green with nervous nausea? You want to confidently say “yes” in the interview, that way you seem more valuable to the company.
7. Team Meetings
You’ll likely encounter meetings at whatever job you take. Whether you attend or lead a meeting, more than likely you will need to speak up or explain a report to the group. I’ve sat through meetings where a person gets so nervous to talk, he forgets to complete his report or ask a question he needed answered. I noticed, though, that a person who assuredly speaks tends to fully share his report and get all questions answered much faster in comparison to the people without speaking backgrounds. At this point, forget about making yourself look good, instead think about making the meeting pass by faster.
8. Phone Calls
I’ve made my fair share of phone calls to strangers to discuss important matters. Without my public speaking class, I wouldn’t sound as comfortable or composed as I do on the phone. Instead speaking with a shaky nervous voice, I keep a calm and steady voice and clearly communicate my message.
The benefits pretty much all boil down to confidence. The first speech I gave and the last speech I gave in my public speaking class sounded extremely different because I learned how to confidently speak. If I am confident in myself and my skills, I can talk on just about any subject in front of a group. I feel confident that no matter how scary you think public speaking seems now, by taking a class, you too will stand in front of a group and give a fantastic speech.