What Employers Desire: Public Speaking Skills – July 19, 2011

The New Straits Times (Malaysia) published and article validating how important public speaking skills are for potential employers, by emphasizing how potential candidates for jobs lack the desired attributes that by nature contribute to the over all package that is a desirable employee.

According to July 23, 2010, article:

The products of our school system are generally ill-prepared either for higher education, work or life in general. Most of our undergraduates lack achievement orientation, have poor analytical writing skills, fear public speaking, and have been “conditioned” by our schooling system to be spoon-fed.

The above reads like the mission statement for public education in the United States. But it appears that sub-standard education is today is also a global plague. Sad. Anyway, I digress. Let’s continue — the article furthered:

Employers complain that graduates lack self-confidence, communication skills, strong work ethics, interpersonal skills and that they are poor team players.

It is my contention, that by addressing, just the fear of public speaking, i.e. making public speaking a top priority within academics — the earlier the better — most of the above issues will be directly addressed.

The regular practice of public speaking by definition because of all that it involves – promotes and continually matures: achievement orientation, analytical writing shills, overcoming the fear of public speaking,self-confidence, communication skills, strong work ethics, and interpersonal skills.

Public speaking demands achievement orientation. I always tell my students “the absolutely most important thing a public speaker does to ensure success, as well as for overcoming the fear of public speaking is PREPARE!!!!!! Preparation is everything: audience analysis, brainstorming, researching, goal setting, outlining, drafting, redrafting, practicing, etc., etc. — and all of the above demands time management.” I also tell my students that “the BIGGEST indicator of preparation…is time management.” Public speaking IS achievement orientation. If a presentation is to be successful — the individual must be achievement oriented. Public speaking is the practice of achievement orientation.

Public speaking demands analytical writing skills. Unless you are a politician (insert sarcastic emphasis) most people must author their own words for public speaking. Composing a speech demands analytical writing skills. I always tell my students that, “clarity is the foundation of communicative success.” And that, “The key to clarity — is structure!” Public speaking demands the employment of and commitment to analytical writing. Public speaking helps individual learn to structure, and present their thoughts. And…it all begins on paper — with writing!

The regular practice of public speaking, is the best way for overcoming the fear of public speaking. Students often ask me, “How do I become a better public speaker?” The answer I give them, is the same answer I give for the most popular question, “How do I overcome the fear of public speaking?” The answer to both questions is: “By speaking.” The more you do something, the better you get at it, and the more confident you get. I also tell students to, “acknowledge the fact that you are doing what statistics say most people would rather be dead than do — that makes you stronger than most people. For self confidence, each time you speak, you should acknowledge to your self how special what you are doing truly is!” Because public speaking is the number one fear in life, that practice of public speaking is truly empowering. Which leads us into our next concern, lacking confidence.

Because public speaking is the number one fear in life, when public speaking is practiced regularly it proves to be the absolute best confidence builder in the world. I need say nothing more here!

Public speaking skills…are communication skills. When we learn to properly structure, and present our thoughts publicly — it matures our communicative abilities on ALL LEVELS!

Public speaking skills demand – and for the truly committed – help to develop strong work ethics. When recruiting for my public speaking team at Los Angeles Valley College I always MUST tell my students, so no ones time is wasted, “There is no way to candy-coat this – if you join the LAVC Speech Team, and desire ANY degree of success you will work harder than you have ever worked on anything else before.” It is because of the achievement orientation, writing, and practice that public speaking demands for successful presentations that public speaking demands a person either have, or develop a strong work ethic. Often, it is the discovered love and passion for public speaking that inspires, in otherwise uninspired individuals, that the person develop a strong work ethic. Think about it – can you think of anything that requires more work, than preparing yourself to stand alone in front of an audience and communicate – not just effectively – but with excellence? I cannot. Pubic speaking demands and promotes strong work ethics.

Public speaking also helps to develop and mature interpersonal skills. When you have the confidence and ability to stand in front of a group of people and communicate your thoughts, doing so on an interpersonal level becomes all the more easier. Again, public speaking public speaking matures our communicative abilities on ALL levels.

The regular practice of public speaking promotes and continually matures: achievement orientation, analytical writing shills, overcoming the fear of public speaking,self-confidence, communication skills, strong work ethics, and interpersonal skills.

The bottom line here is – our schools, and those in attendance who desire optimal success, should consider and address the concerns of the world’s employers…and make public speaking skills a priority!

I’m speech coach Duane Smith. I have served groups and individuals in the corporate and academic areas develop and improve their public speaking skills. I'm also a tenured public speaking professor at Los Angeles Valley College.

2 Comments on “What Employers Desire: Public Speaking Skills – July 19, 2011

  1. The article you mentioned is correct in stating current graduates lack, “achievement orientation, have poor analytical writing skills, fear public speaking, and have been ‘conditioned’ by our schooling system to be spoon-fed.” Our workforce and business plan is consistently increasing to encompass a global market, as such, it is expected of us to perform at globally competitive level. However, our current educational model is not. The solution you provided through public speaking is a veritable one. Like you mentioned to effectively communicate public, one must iron out and hone the underlying kills required to deliver a successful speech. That being, research analysis, critical thought required in identifying your audiences needs, clarity in writing and like you mentioned, most of all, preparation. These skills are not only useful in a speech class but they translate to the real world, our opinions and ideas are useless if we cant translate to real world results, this first requires an effective relay of information or ideas and propositions. Effective speech delivery encompasses qualities, which when lacking, adversely affect a person’s professional development. Building a speech requires a level of comfort with externalizing internal opinions and ideas; furthermore to properly execute these, a leadership role by the provider of the idea would have to be undertaken to oversee execution of the idea. No one would exhibit the passion and desire to see his/her goal or idea completed than the person providing and leading it. Furthermore, one has to be comfortable with supplying and voicing their ideas at a moments notice when necessary, practice in public speaking hones this ability and turns it into a second-hand nature. I agree with the last point, public speaking and speech leads to the maturation of the individual his/her ideas. Publicly voicing ones opinions requires one to internally evaluate them and consider them in a manner expecting public scrutiny. Other factors which were not initially considered prior to the prospect of speaking them publicly might be introduced.

  2. First and Foremost, I feel more at peace that LAVC makes speech a mandatory class. I am on the same opinion as the article that too many schools are not raising children and young adults to be prepared for the real world. The middle schools and high schools teach subjects like Calculus, Algebra, etc. but not real world application. From my experience, many people in the working force do not know how to communicate not only on a public speech way but individually. This leads to many hours of unproductiveness and miscommunications. I agree that public speaking teaches discipline and maturity. When giving a speech by a certain date individuals need to prepare to do their best performance. Practicing giving speeches also creates self-confidence! It will make you realize that what you have to say is important and that you are important. This is why in addition to this class I take toastmasters. Toastmasters is a world wide organization/club that encourages individuals to give speeches weekly in front of other members. They teach you to think quickly on your feet and come up with answers to questions quickly. I have found this method very useful when interviewing for colleges or jobs. Overall, I believe that participating in toastmasters for the last year has matured me and has prepared me for corporate America.

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