Does everyone remember that feeling when your palm and your back are filled with sweat, and your hands start to shake the moment you step onto the stage? Hands clasped, fingers intertwined, you are about to present your idea in front of a big crowd. Public speaking can be frightening for students, but you will master the art and use it to the best of your ability with constant practice.
Public speaking is a critical skill for future development, yet it’s never a mandatory course in high school. You come into classroom to explore the world of biology, neurons, or famous novelists. However, you are barely taught how to organize a speech or comfortably present your thoughts and opinions in front of people. This article will discuss different types of public speaking, why public speaking is so important, and how students can improve to be better public speakers.
What are the different types of public speaking?
An informative speech is quite self-explanatory, as it’s about giving the audience facts or lessons it needs to know. Students will do this most common type of public speaking when they have to synthesize a chapter and present information to the rest of the class or present their ideas at the end of the semester. Informative speeches can be boring to the audience if they are not interested in the topic; therefore, you should always engage them with intriguing ideas and use relatable examples to help enhance their understanding of the topics.
In a persuasive speech, the speaker chooses a topic of interest they are passionate about to present in front of an audience. The point of a persuasive speech is to convince the audience to consider your proposed point of view, motivate them for a behavior change, or to take action. There are generally three kinds of persuasive speech—speeches of fact, value, and policy. For speech of fact, you are challenging whether a claim is true or false, whereas speech of value questions the rightness and wrongness of a value. Speech of policy discusses a policy statement and its potential action.
An entertaining speech can range from telling a funny story in class to standup comedy. This speech is one of the most creative and challenging to master because it is dependent on your choice of topic, your way of expressing the story, and your body language.
Why is public speaking important?
Public speaking is critical in every aspect of your life, from improving your social connections to deciding your future route. Public speaking is a skill worth learning because it can help you:
1. Win over the crowds
By mastering the art of public speaking, you will have more self-confidence, which leads you to attract and win over crowds. Unsurprisingly, 77% of the population has some anxiety regarding public speaking. So, if you improve and become good at public speaking, you are already more confident and less anxious than 77% of the population. You will be more comfortable around strangers and can deliver your messages to people confidently.
Public speaking is essential in creating a charismatic and inspirational leader, which requires a strong sense of effective communication for delegation and idea articulation. For example, did you know that Mark Zuckerberg used to be a bad public speaker? Looking back at his speech at Harvard University, he used the filler word “like” almost 600 times within an hour. However, he has over time become the CEO of a multi-billionaire company. Mark had the same starting point as many students who are not confident at public speaking, but he grew into the mature public speaker he is today with consistent practice. So why won’t the rest of us also improve?
2. Advance your career
Besides helping you improve your communication skills, public speaking is also beneficial for your future career. As a high school student, you don’t need a detailed picture of what you want to do, but mastering public speaking gives you more career opportunities. There are many jobs where public speaking is the core skill set required, such as spokesperson, news anchor, teachers/professors, speechwriter, etc.
In addition to the various speech or presentation related career choices, public speaking will also help you advance in the one career you choose. Being an inspirational and influential speaker, you will be more comfortable speaking in front of stakeholders, convincing people of your ideas, making meaningful connections, and rock job interviews. Imagine if you are scared of public speaking and get invited to a networking event in college. How will you have the gut and the confidence to approach potential employers and pitch yourself in 1 or 2 minutes?
Public speaking gives you career advancement opportunities by helping you form a group of supporters. By standing up in front of people and presenting your ideas, you will attract like-minded people to support and follow you to success. Think about how Elon Musk pitched Tesla, Steve Jobs pitched Apple, or Brian Chesky pitched Airbnb to investors for more investment.
3. Become a better listener
Knowing how to speak in front of large groups of people also helps you become a better listener. Public speaking is about knowing your audience and understanding them before developing a speech to persuade them. This means that you need listen to the audience before shaping the content. In addition to listening to your audience, students should also listen to other great speakers, learning their way of speaking and nonverbal communications skills, like body language. By first imitating great speakers and understanding their craft, you will develop your own effective public speaking style over time.
The most important thing to note in becoming a better listener is to not listen just for the sake of listening. You need to get to know your audience with an open mind and curiosity to understand their train of thought and point of view. With an audience-centered approach, you will produce a speech tailored to their interests and grab their attention instantly.
Public speaking can be scary—even for the best speakers out there. High school is the perfect time for you to learn how to present information in a clear way and speak confidently in class. Public speaking is an essential skill that will help you tremendously in your personal as well as professional life, so let’s start practicing today!
This Public Speaking and Debate class will offer the opportunity to speak and listen to others talk only as much as possible. We will alternate between learning the structure of different types of speeches and making presentations by one student to the rest of the class. After each speech by students, we will have a critique from the peers, and the teacher. They will also be required and coached on how to participate in the discussion and critique their peers.