After reading this chapter, the student will be able to:
- Define public speaking, channel, feedback, noise, encode, decode, symbol, denotative, and connotative;
- Explain what distinguishes public speaking from other modes of communication;
- List the elements of the communication process;
- Explain the origins of anxiety in public speaking;
- Apply some strategies for dealing with personal anxiety about public speaking;
- Discuss why public speaking is part of the curriculum at this college and important in personal and professional life.
The Value of Public Speaking in Your Life
Despite the long history of public speaking, dating back to at least 500 BCE, it is not unusual for students to question why this course is included in the curriculum of their major (source citation). You might have put it off or be taking it in your first semester (better sentence structure). You might believe that it will have little use in your future career. The actual experience of completing the course may change your mind, and we would encourage you to do some research on our own about the question of how public speaking fits into your career. Perhaps you could talk to some professionals in your future career field, or perhaps your instructor will discuss this in class or assign a short speech about it.
However, here are three reasons why you can benefit from this course. First, public speaking is one of the major communication skills desired by employers (source citation). Employers are frequently polled regarding the skills they most want employees to possess, and communication is almost always in the top three (Adams, 2014…find this or improve this…more….). Of course, “communication skills” is a broad term and involves a number of abilities such as team leadership, clear writing in business formats, conflict resolution, interviewing, and listening (OMG…fix this). However, public speaking is one of those sought-after skills, even in fields where the entry-level workers may not do much formal public speaking (source citations). Nurses give training presentations to parents of newborn babies (source); accountants advocate for new software in their organizations (source); managers lead team meetings (source).
If you are taking this class at the beginning of your college career, you will benefit in your other future classes from the research, organizational, and presentational skills learned here. According to the National Survey on Student Engagement (huh????) college freshmen tend to think they will not be giving many presentations in college classes, but that is wishful thinking (what freshmen think this????). Different kinds of presentations will be common in your upcoming classes.
Another reason for taking a public speaking course is the harder-to-measure but valuable personal benefits. As an article on the USAToday College website (please help me here) states, a public speaking course can help you be a better, more informed and critical listener; it can “encourage you to voice your ideas and take advantage of the influence you have;” and it gives you an opportunity to face a major fear you might have in a controlled environment (Massengale, 2014). Finally, the course can attune you to the power of public speaking to change the world. Presentations that lead to changes in laws, policies, leadership, and culture happen every day, all over the world.