How many of us actually like (and are good at) speaking in front of a group of 100 people? Not very many, I’m guessing. That doesn’t mean we won’t have to do it at some point. Even if your job will never entail you speaking to such a large group, you will have to speak in front of smaller groups made of people you know, people you don’t know, supervisors, peers, clients, community members, and so many more.
Being able to communicate effectively is one of the tops things employers look for, according to the National Organization of Colleges and Employers yearly report. You will have to do many different kinds of presentations throughout your career, including in the interview process. A Public Speaking class is certainly one way to learn how to speak effectively. In practicing different speeches, you will learn new applications for them, and once you get over your fear of speaking in front of large groups, small groups should be no problem.
In addition to learning skills for speaking in public, you will also learn more about yourself. When you’re speaking in order to learn how to speak better, you are more aware of yourself. You realize how many times you say ‘um’ in a minute, and that you wring your hands when you get nervous. These are good to know, not only for public speaking, but for life in general. Once you realize your nervous habits, you can overcome them so they aren’t distracting to others when you’re talking. Hopefully being able to speak in front of large groups also helps with the anxiety that often comes with that.
Being able to network (aka: communicate) with coworkers, others in your career field, and those you may work with on projects outside of your field is incredibly important. It’s often a skill that gets left behind when you’re thinking about developing your work skills. Being able to maintain a comfortable working relationship with your coworkers will make your life much easier at times. Likewise, if you are looking for a job or an opportunity, networking is the best way to do so. People higher in the field will know of more positions, and more about said positions. If you maintain a relationship with them, they may be able to help you. As for work projects, you may have to work with others in a completely different field to accomplish your task. Sometimes it’s hard to work with those from such a different background, so being able to communicate is key.
When writing speeches, and anything else you may write, you need to know how to analyze resource to ensure you are working with a trusted source, and how to cite that source. If you make a mistake now, you lose credit. If you were to incorrectly cite a source in the workforce, that could get you fired or sued. In addition, being able to look at a topic from all sides will help you to work with people from all backgrounds.
Now, speaking being important is all good and dandy, but what to do with that?
Take a Public Speaking course! Everybody I’ve talked to recommends it. Being critiqued directly on your speaking allows you to know exactly what you need to work on. It also counts as one of your general education requirements.
Join a student group. Many of them do presentations, tabling, and working with the community. Think about Peer Health Educators or Student Association.
Practice Interviewing. You’re going to be doing a lot of it anyway, getting some practice wouldn’t hurt. You can come to Career & Internship Services or do some online with Interview Stream.