Public speaking can be defined as continuous formal presentation to an audience made by a presenter . Most of the time, people use public speaking to deliver vital messages to the public in proper way. As its name implies, it is a way of communication that will make our ideas public. Through public speaking, we share our ideas with people and it may influence people’s thoughts.
Nowadays, many people around the world use public speaking to spread their ideas and influence such as Franklin Roosevelt, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, and Barack Obama. Although public speaking requires the same skills as used in normal conversation, public speaking and conversation is not identical. Public speaking involves talking in front of a group of people, usually with some preparation. It can be in front of people that you know or a crowd of strangers unlike normal conversation which does not requires preparation to talk.
Public speaking is important to everyone regardless what kind of job. Most people, at some point in their life, will need to stand up and speak in front of a group of people. According to Michael Osborn (2003), people seldom speak in public unless they have some idea that they wish to deliver to people. Mostly, we do need to speak in public speaking when we have something to share with other people. Moreover, public speaking is also needed for career purpose and for educational purpose.
The time we speak in a public setting is when we decide to speak on matters of importance, or when we are asked to speak about experiences and expertise or when we are required to speak. For instance, Lois Gibbs prior to 1978 who described herself as “typical American women”, decided to speak out about 20 000 tons of toxic chemicals were buried beneath her home in New York after she learned about it . Ryan White, a child who involved in public speaking after been asked to share and speak about his experience – infected by AIDS virus after received a blood transfusion (Griffin, 2003).
According to Rudolph F Verderber (2008), public speaking is one type of human communication which occurs within the public communication context. Imagine, for a moment, that human beings could not speak and could not communicate ideas about science, current events, and topics as mundane as the weather. It is only then that one can understand the benefits of social communication, especially public speaking.
Public speaking may be the most frightening thing as one must stand up in front of mass umber off people. However, it has many benefit such as it builds self-confidence, develops one’s critical thinking skills, it can develops personal and professional skills, it creates community, and lastly it can influence the world and can change people’s thoughts.
First of all, public speaking can help us build self-confidence. Based on recent surveys, almost 75 percent of adult population fears public speaking. (Mc Croskey, 1993; Richmond and Mc Croskey, 1995). It is proven that most of people would prefer to be listener than a speaker. Fear and nervousness are factors that discouraging people from being a public speaker. According to most studies, public speaking is number one people’s fear and death is number two.
This means that if someone have to go to a funeral, they are better off in the casket than doing eulogy (Seinfeld, 1993, p. 120). However, many people do not realize that public speaking will help us feel more confident. Nervousness because of stage fright is normal and most of public speakers experienced it.
The major reasons of nervousness are fear of being stared at, fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of the unknown . In order to be more confident, one must know the right way to handle the nervousness. According to Lucas E. 2012, one of the key to gain confidence is by doing preparation thoroughly and picking a topic that we really know it well.
Next, we must think positively. Confidence is a well-known power of positive thinking (Lucas, 2012). Then, we have to remember that most nervousness is not visible. Therefore, knowing this will make it easier for us to be confident and face the audience. After few times doing public speaking, we will automatically develop self-confidence in speechmaking abilities and we will likely become more confident in other aspect .
As a result, many people especially those who have high level of public speaking anxiety (PSA), feel more confident and competent after they have done several times of public speaking. Next, public speaking can help improve communication and personal skills. One of the best benefits of learning to give a good speech is it brings personal satisfaction (Hamilton, 2003). When we successfully deliver a good speech, the kind of personal satisfaction you experience is unparalleled. A positive response from the audience can help us feel more confident.
Thus, it can bring about a lot of improvement in our overall personality. Public speaking is interrelated with communication skills and can be described as a form of communication. Public speaking does not always mean that we have to give a speech to a large audience. When we go for an interview, and speak to a group of interviewers or when we are giving a class presentation; all these are also forms of public speaking. In such situations, if we have the ability to communicate properly, it can help us shape up our future as the personal skills has been improved.
Nowadays, most of employers look for employees who can listen carefully, present ideas clearly and think critically. Requirement for higher-level positions is communication skills. Therefore, the ability to present thoughts clearly and persuasively that we gained from public speaking will lead to job success (Jaffe, 2004).
Besides that, public speaking can improve critical thinking skills. Lucas in his book described critical thinking as the ability to detect weakness in other people’s arguments and it involves skills such as ability to differentiate fact from opinion, to judge the credibility of statements and to assess the soundness of evidence. It is also the ability to see clearly the relationship among ideas (Lucas, 2012, p.16). Writing a speech requires a lot of careful thought. It’s not enough to have a message; we also need to figure out how to deliver the message to fit the needs of audience.
According to Lucas (2012), organizing a speech is not only about arranging ideas but it is an important part of shaping the ideas themselves. We have to think how to make points which are relevant to audience and how to make the audience understand the message. Thinking in this way is a great way to improve critical thinking skills. If we start thinking critically about the speaking style, we may also find ways to improve our general communication style.
For instance, to make a good speech, we need to think how to make arguments strong and how to make the structure of the speech clear and cohesive. Therefore, this situation makes us become a more effective thinker and we can enhance our ability to think clearly. For that reason, public speaking has been included as a part of education to develop the skills of critical thinking among students.
Furthermore, public speaking can be used to influence the world and can change people’s thought. Many people around the world have spread their influence through public speaking. The examples of people who used public speaking to spread influence are Martin Luther, Barack Obama, Billy Graham in United States while in other countries, the power of public speaking employed by people such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, South African leader Nelson Mandela and Burmese democracy champion Aung San Su Kyi .
Unlike usual conversations, public speaking contains purpose and responsibility in many every interaction. Public speakers use their knowledge of persuasion to motivate others to take collective action to achieve desired goals. Public speaking skills can be used to influence multiple people simultaneously, such as in a meeting or when addressing a large group. This is why it has power to influence others. We can use public speaking to persuade others to believe or accept our ideas.
In addition, public speaking affects cultures. According to Jaffe (2004), culture are not static, which means it can be shaped and it mold our way of life often through public speaking continuously. Public speaking has influenced culture throughout history. Both women and men have spoken on issues that transformed culture. Most historical events have some form of public speaking associated with it. According to Pearce (1998), public speakers attempt to influence society in few ways. First, some hope to spread cultural beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors to people who do not hold them. Second, speakers reinforce or strengthen existing cultural elements.
They encourage listeners to continue with the current behaviors and elements. For instance, a politician influence citizen to keep voting, and pastors urge their effort to continue feeding the hungry. Next, some speakers attempt to restore matters to a healthy state when events threaten to split apart communities. Besides, speakers try to change their societies by bringing about social change .
This is because public speaking can be persuasive which can influence the culture. Indeed, cultures are changing and uncertain. Public speakers use this opportunity to transmit cultural beliefs and behavior. They also persuade audiences to change their ways of thinking or acting.
As a conclusion, public speaking is a form of communication to make our ideas public. It is a medium to share our thoughts and it can influence people. Although many people are afraid of speaking in public setting, it actually can boosts self-confidence. Based on Lucas’ opinion, one way to overcome nervousness and become more confident is by doing preparation thoroughly. Moreover, public speaking also helps to develop critical thinking skills. To convince people, we must plan our speech wisely. This needs us to think deeply and critically in order to influence people about the ideas that we share.
Therefore, it will improve the critical thinking as we have to think how to make audience understand the message. What is more, public speaking improves our communication skills and personal skills. When we learnt how to deliver speech effectively, our skills will be better after few times doing the public speaking. According to Hamilton (2013), the improved skills will bring personal satisfaction to individual.
Next, public speaking can influence the world and change people’s thoughts. Hamilton (2003) said, public speakers usually used the knowledge of persuasion to change people’s mind and accept their ideas. This is what makes the public speaking very influential.
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The Art of Public Speaking (11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Companies. Lucas, S. E. (2012). The Art Of Public Speaking (11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education. Micheal Osborn, S. O. (2003). Pubulic Speaking Instructor’s Annotated Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Rudolph F Verderber, D. D. (2008). The Challenge of Effective Speaking (15th ed.). USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Sellnow, D. D. (2003). Public Speaking: A Process Approach Media Edition. Thonson Wadsworth.
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