Imagine a room full of attentive eyes and ears, hanging on to every word you say. This is not a distant dream, but a tangible reality for those who master the art of public speaking. In the journey of career growth, the ability to communicate effectively is not just an asset; it’s a game-changer.
For those who took a public speaking class in college, how did the skills you developed in that class help you later on in your career? Here is what 20 thought leaders had to say.
1. Paving the Way for Leadership
Strong public speaking skills are a powerful asset for career advancement because they distinguish you from your peers and make you a natural candidate for leadership roles.
Early on in my career, I remember being picked to give a talk in front of my new colleagues. It is only with hindsight that I realize I was being pitted against a fellow new colleague. We were both asked to speak, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, my skills were being tested for leadership potential.
Thankfully, I was able to naturally rely on public speaking skills I had learned in college long before I needed to make use of them.
I was able to project confidence, credibility, and authority. That experience increased my visibility within my organization and definitely helped my long-term career objectives, laying the way for a promotion that came my way a few years later.
2. Rehearsing without Memorizing Boosts Effectivenes
It’s been more than a decade since I completed my public speaking class in college, yet I still remember the lessons I learned from the course. One of the biggest takeaways from the semester was to rehearse, but not memorize, your speech. Rather than attempting to perfect my speeches and have every word memorized, I instead learned to use talking points to guide my talks, and the results paid off. I became a more effective and polished speaker and learned to handle curveball questions with grace.
3. Understanding and Persuading the Audience
Taking a public speaking class in college was transformative for my career trajectory. Firstly, it boosted my confidence, allowing me to articulate ideas clearly and command attention in professional settings. This was pivotal during team meetings, client presentations, and networking events. Secondly, I learned the art of persuasion — crafting messages that resonate and influence decision-making. This became invaluable in negotiations and when pitching projects. Additionally, understanding audience dynamics helped me tailor content effectively for diverse groups. Beyond speaking, active listening skills honed in the class enhanced my ability to understand and address stakeholder concerns. In essence, mastering public speaking didn’t just improve my oratory prowess; it refined my interpersonal skills and strategic thinking, making me a more effective and empathetic professional.
4. Enhancing One-on-One Business Conversations
Learning the finer skills of public speaking has been enormously helpful in my career. It’s helped with sales and informational presentations, but it’s also helped when I’ve had one-on-one conversations with both higher-level business leaders and clients.
The techniques learned in a public speaking class are transferable to one-on-one conversations, and that has advanced my career more than even the larger group gathering presentations. Learning to present your case well and be persuasive are excellent tools for any career.
5. Advancing a Law Career
As a lawyer, public speaking skills are essential. After graduating from Georgetown University Law School, these skills have served me well in my law career in Hong Kong and the U.S.
When consulting with clients before their cases, I must speak confidently to assure them of my support. This confidence was instilled in me by my freshman-year public speaking class. My public speaking skills have also had a profound impact in the courtroom. When arguing cases before judges, I use persuasion skills, logic, and evidence to plead for my clients. In this way, they have helped me win cases for my clients in a variety of situations.
Public speaking skills improve with practice. Since taking that class long ago, I have become more proficient in using these skills to win cases.
6. Improving Presentation and Negotiation Skills
The communication skills I learned in my college public speaking class have been incredibly valuable in improving my ability to present effectively. Communication skills are essential in any profession and have been especially helpful in marketing and sales. The class I took changed the way I frame public speaking and presenting, which has been crucial in my career, as most of my agenda each day includes meeting with and presenting to teammates across teams, to stakeholders, and to consumers. Among many other skills, I can now confidently engage an audience, negotiate, display leadership, and resolve conflict, making me a more effective communicator and leader. In every aspect of my career, the communication skills I gained through my public speaking course have significantly impacted my professional growth and success.
Stukent’s Public Speaking Bundle
Stukent’s® Public Speaking Bundle is an innovative educational toolkit designed to empower students to master the art of public speaking. With Tara Williams’ “Public Speaking” courseware, students receive a robust foundation to develop various oral delivery techniques, including impromptu, persuasive, and informative speaking. It also emphasizes critical listening skills and strategies for managing anxiety.
Additionally, the Stukent Public Speaking Simulation offers nine unique speaking exercises. Students get to hone body language, analyze external speeches, create audience profiles, and conduct peer reviews. This simulation also conveniently collects student presentations all in one place for easy instructor review. Key learning objectives include practicing diverse public speaking skills, brainstorming for ideation, analyzing the audience, integrating various speaking frameworks, and conducting secondary research. This bundle is an invaluable resource for developing confident, skilled communicators.
“The Public Speaking Simulation allows me to provide feedback in a timely manner,” said Krista Sutherland, an instructor at the University of Louisville. “It is efficient and effective, and it allows you to communicate with a student and work on things together. You can be a more active part of their education.”
Want to learn more? Schedule a demo with one of our course consultants today!
7. Adapting and Thinking on the Fly
The art of quick thinking. Taking a public speaking class in college taught me the art of adaptability and thinking on my feet — skills that have been crucial throughout my career. In the fast-paced environment at PRLab, for instance, situations often change rapidly, and the ability to adjust my message on the fly has made all the difference. When presenting to clients or leading team meetings, I’ve been able to pivot my approach based on the audience’s reactions and the dynamic flow of the conversation. Learning to speak publicly also meant learning to respond to unexpected questions or technical difficulties without losing my composure. This skill has been a lifeline, allowing me to maintain professionalism under pressure. It’s a skill I’d recommend everyone develop, as it’s not just about speaking well — it’s about delivering your message effectively, no matter what comes your way.
8. Easing Negotiations with Public Speaking
My public speaking class taught me to get very comfortable speaking in high-pressure situations when all eyes are on me. And while that sometimes may be presenting to important people, it has made negotiations much easier and less tense. When you can walk into negotiations and speak with confidence, you’re already setting yourself on the right track for success. Public speaking classes can help you clearly communicate your value, ask for what you deserve, and not crumble under another party’s aggressive tactics.
9. Mastering Persuasion and Storytelling
A big part of business success is the ability to persuade others, whether that be potential investors, customers, employees, or more. A public speaking class gave me enough experience to confidently share my point and think well when the pressure is on. I also learned the importance of storytelling, and how being able to connect your point to a real story is often all you need to win over your audience. The really valuable applications of any public speaking skills are universal, and those skills learned early on are applied in nearly every future business interaction you have.
10. Boosting Confidence through Public Speaking
Taking a public speaking class in college was a game-changer for me. It significantly boosted my confidence, a trait that has been instrumental in my career progression and as a business owner now. The class equipped me with various strategies to enhance my effectiveness as a speaker, and since we had class practices, it helped me become more comfortable speaking in front of a group.
I remember the first time I had to stand in front of an audience; the butterflies in my stomach were almost paralyzing. However, as I continued to practice and implement the techniques I learned from the class, the nervousness gradually receded. The more I spoke, the more adept I became at it. The jitters turned into adrenaline, fueling my energy and engagement with the audience. Now, public speaking feels like second nature, an integral part of my professional identity.
11. Bolstering Entrepreneurship
Project confidence when I talk to people. The public speaking class I took in college has prepared me for my journey as an entrepreneur. Because when you start your own business, you have to talk to a lot of people — partners, investors, and customers. Public speaking has helped me build my confidence and project that confidence when I talk to people. It has helped me articulate my ideas and connect with people from different backgrounds. Overall, it has been an invaluable asset in my journey as an entrepreneur.
12. Using Public Speaking Skills in Technology Leadership
College-acquired public speaking abilities have been indispensable to my career as a technology enthusiast and managing director. Effective communication is fundamental to the success of any enterprise. Irrespective of the context — tech innovation presentation, partner negotiation, or team meeting facilitation — these abilities significantly impact the outcome.
Proficiency in effectively communicating intricate technical ideas in a lucid and captivating fashion is critical within the technology sector. It facilitates the integration of non-technical stakeholders and technical experts, thereby enhancing the efficiency of decision-making and collaboration.
Moreover, the acquisition of effective public speaking abilities elevates self-assurance, cultivates leadership qualities, and augments one’s capacity to motivate and sway groups. They also facilitate connections with potential investors and allow me to represent our technology company at conferences.
13. Saving Time with Effective Public Speaking
The public speaking class I took in college has been extremely helpful throughout my career. Of course, the class helped improve my presentation skills, but the amount of time it has saved me has easily been the biggest benefit over the years. Previously, I would have to prepare for days before big presentations or meetings; however, now it’s basically second nature. I feel comfortable, I’m able to connect with my audience, and most importantly, I know how to structure my message in a clear, concise manner. As a result, I’ve easily saved hundreds of hours in meeting preparation time over my career thanks to the public speaking class I took in college.
14. Expanding a Professional Network
Taking public speaking lessons in college helped me build the confidence to address larger audiences. Speaking at these events has expanded my professional network, mainly because when I deliver an impressive speech, everyone wants to speak or associate with me. This has made it easier for me to make friends, build connections, and even make sales. Besides, I have been able to meet and connect with speakers whom I may never have had the opportunity to meet or talk to.
15. Building Confidence through Exposure Therapy
The most stressful or nerve-wracking part of public speaking is really fearing the unknown, and through a public speaking course, I found that exposure therapy works! In most classes, you only do one major presentation — and many classes have none. When presentations are a rarity, we don’t feel practiced enough to be confident.
When you’re forced to present to groups regularly, you realize that your worst public-speaking fears are mostly imagined, and even a presentation gone wrong isn’t nearly as bad in reality as you think it is. A public speaking course allows you to expose yourself to the task repeatedly, and each presentation gets a little easier. Once you build that confidence, you’ll take it into everything you do, including interviews, work presentations, and more!
16. Commanding Audience Attention
One way the skills I’ve developed through a public speaking class have been helpful in my career pertains to perception and attention. During that time, I learned, through repetition and practice, how to notice the subtle differences in the ways you hold a group’s attention. I discovered that there are often two types of attention that a group of people can give to a speaker: passive (physically there, listening but not really engaged) and active (fully engaged, even enthusiastic).
Being able to notice these differences is a skill that has helped me countless times in my daily work as a business leader, whether I’m speaking to employees, peers, or anyone, really.
17. Analyzing Speeches with Rhetorical Devices
Being able to name devices, like assonance and zeugma, helped me identify why certain speeches worked better than others. I also learned how abusing these devices can make your speech seem too florid and light on substance. The correct balance between message and technique is essential for being a better public speaker. That was something my teachers taught me, and I’ll never forget such an important lesson.
18. Preparing Successful Founders
Practicing public speaking throughout college prepared me to be the founder I am today. In the heat of the moment, coursework that involves giving presentations can feel overwhelming — but the practice pays off in the end, as you learn how to communicate to groups under pressure and challenge yourself socially. Some people discover that they enjoy speaking in front of groups after enough repetition.
Shelley Hancock, Founder and President
19. Transforming Fear into Fun in Public Speaking
The biggest impact of a public speaking course is turning an often-dreaded experience into something fun. We’ve all heard people speak publicly with a ton of charisma — it’s clear they’re having fun on stage, and that feeling is contagious! Learning the principles of public speaking and practicing them enough to gain confidence allows you to turn your nerves into positive energy during presentations, speeches, and even networking introductions.
20. Building Social Connections in Public Speaking Class
I actually found that it was my relationships with other students in the class that had the most effect. In many classes, you just learn alongside others and may not even speak to them much at all. Yet, in public speaking classes, everyone, well, speaks!
I learned a lot about my colleagues’ interests and specific talents. We bonded before and after class in freewheeling conversations and applied what we learned to how we communicate with each other. It was a stellar way to make new friends who were engaged with and interested in communication principles.