- Some people seem able to answer a question or express an opinion effortlessly in an open forum.
Whether in a business meeting, lecture hall or classroom, it seems there are always individuals who can pose a question or make a comment smoothly, without hesitation.
- Don’t they have the heart hammering, sweaty palms that many people experience when all eyes are on them? How do they appear so confident?
THE ANSWER: They’re confident because they have the skills to express themselves.
- Is this a natural skill for most people or one that’s learned?
For some, verbal fluency comes naturally, but for the majority these are skills nurtured by teachers and the opportunity to practice. Years ago, schools and colleges used to require poetry recitation, class presentations and public speaking courses. The goal of developing the skills needed for successful public speaking have been largely replaced by an emphasis on subject matter knowledge. Strong verbal skills have been relegated to a less important status in our highly specialized, technology-driven society.
As a speech pathologist and public speaking coach, I see many professionals, as well as students, who dread making presentations, answering questions or offering a comment in public — and the most challenging situation — interviewing for a job.
The answer to the question about what is the key to public speaking effectiveness? Both confidence and skills. But these are not mutually exclusive: verbal skills bolster confidence. Acquiring the skills to express yourself can be learned and practiced so that you are confident and successful as a speaker, one-on-one, in a class, or a public venue. Being able to describe your thoughts, your work, your expertise in a field is a life skill that enhances your professional value and provides an outlet for your accomplishments.
Check back soon for more articles on public speaking, speech pathology, communications and cognitive function.