What makes ‘Public Speaking’ a critical skill today?

Public Speaking has always been a subject of fear. The great speakers were poor speakers at one time. It is a myth that public speaking is a God given talent. The ability has to be developed. One has to work hard. It’s always better to practice under guidance of a competent trainer.
Public speaking is no longer a necessity for only for the political leaders or motivational speakers. The competence in this talent needs to be developed by everyone who wants to progress and who wants to maintain self-esteem. The concept is now extended even to speaking one on one or to a group or to your family members. The underlying qualities required are:

  1. Articulation: It refers to the clarity in speech. One must be in a position to express clearly whatever is there in mind. Syllables can be pronounced correctly only with the adept use of speech organs.
  1. Speech Organs We have 5 speech organs. These are- jaw, tongue, teeth, lips and palate. Wherever some of these are not use adequately, clarity is compromised.
  1. Eye Contact The speaker has to hold the attention of the listener/listeners. This can be achieved by making an eye contact with the audience. You must connect whether you are speaking to one person or to a large audience. Maintaining an eye contact is crucial.
  1. Coordination Between Mind & Speech Human brain thinks 10 times faster than the speech. Coordination between the mind and speech is of prime importance. Often times the speaker is at a loss to find the right word. While speaking it causes fumbles during the speech. This happens due to inadequate coordination. It can be achieved with practice.
  1. No Age Bar It is a fallacy that the talent needs to be developed at an early stage. Age is no bar to develop public speaking talent. Here I would like to relate a recent case study.

One of my students (in his late 60s) said that during his life he never could speak to more than 1 person at a time. A diamond merchant by profession, he retired and handed over the business to his sons. With a desire to give back to the society, he started an NGO. Due to his contacts he was able to gather enough funds. His dedication to the cause enabled him to do good work in his village in Gujarat. Whenever a project would be completed he would face the “biggest problem in his life”. Invariably people would ask him to say few words and that was the “biggest problem”.
Because of the aforesaid compulsion, he was motivated to learn public  speaking after retiring from business. A strong desire enabled him to practice hard. Subsequently he participated in various seminars and now he is an accomplished public speaker.
Life has changed. It is moving extremely fast. Snail mail has been replaced by email. Enthusiastic business leaders want things to happen ‘yesterday’. Telecom revolution and internet has changed the rules of the game so far as communication is concerned.
To be continued…..

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