In the corporate world, communication skills are essential.
As the world globalizes we’re seeing a reduction in face-to-face meetings and a rise in conference calls and remote work. When your vocal presence can determine the majority of the impression you leave professionally, it’s an asset worth investing in.
Importance of Public Speaking
It’s undeniable that speech skills are as essential in the business sector as in any industry. Simply being the person to get up in front of an audience gives you an edge — the National Institute of Mental Health reports that up to 73 percent of the population has a phobia of public speaking.
Good public speaking skills are essential to getting your ideas across, and those ideas will be what push a career forward. Warren Buffet asserted that the ability to speak well publicly was the number one skill business students needed to cultivate, as it could raise a person’s value by 50 percent.
Likewise, poor public speaking skills may hurt your career. The BBC reported that “oral communication” and “presentation skills” were among the top four qualities employers looked for in candidates. Many job interviews now require a presentation as part of the hiring process.
And public speaking skills have clear benefits beyond big speeches; the same skills apply in meetings, interviews, and even hobnobbing at industry events.
Developing Public Speaking Skills
Public speaking comes naturally to some people, but not for others. In fact, some of the most famous public speakers — like Steve Jobs — had to work to develop those skills. It’s an art, but it’s a teachable one.
In many universities, a speech class is a core requirement; however, some people may find that it doesn’t come naturally to them or that they need a refresher. There are plenty of ways to improve speech-giving skills, from personalized coaching that focuses on the vocal instrument and confidence to classes and workshops that focus on the different elements of rhetoric and articulation. And there’s nothing quite like watching a skilled professional work—and it’s easy to find excellent speeches and presentations online.
There are a few basic tips to keep in mind, of course:
- Know your audience
- Speak more slowly than you think (we speed up as we get nervous)
- Project volume
- Make eye contact
- Know the material
- Practice answers to potential questions
- Make eye contact
And remember, it’s okay to be nervous! Nerves are a totally natural and normal part of being in front of other people. Plenty of professional performers still deal with nerves. It’s just part of the job, and they learn to accept that the nerves are there and move forward.
All the public speaking training in the world may be useless if someone suffers from a speech impediment. A speaking or communication disorder can have a negative effect on someone’s self-esteem. In this case, a business professional may turn to speech-language therapy.
If you feel that way, you might benefit from speech-language therapy. There are many ways to connect with speech-language pathologists in your area. First, you can speak with your primary care physician and see if they can provide you with a referral. They may be able to suggest a speech-language pathologist that specializes in helping with your specific concerns, or someone that they know has worked with a patient that had similar needs.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has a page dedicated to helping you find a professional near you. When you meet with your speech therapist for the first time, you should communicate your concerns and goals – the therapist will most likely complete an evaluation and then if you’re an eligible candidate, they will probably discuss specific strategies for working through any identified areas for improvement with you.