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Should Students Take Public Speaking Classes?

by Elaine J. Dispo

Public speaking classes benefit all students who take them. If you go through a speech course, you will develop valuable skills that will enhance your self-esteem, your social interaction and your professional life. The advantages of taking public speaking classes will be identified with the letter “C” to help you remember why communication is important, not only to your education, but on a personal level as well.

Confidence

You may have experienced fear of public speaking, also known as speech anxiety or stage fright, according to Stephen Lucas’ “The Art of Public Speaking." Speech classes can help you overcome this communication apprehension through positive nervousness, which Lucas defines as energy that motivates speakers. As you prepare to deliver a presentation to a crowd, you undergo visualization, which Lucas connects with imagining success in speech. Practice a positive mindset that keeps you cool, calm and collected, so you have that same attitude in front of your audience. If you show your listeners that you are confident, then they likely will be interested in your speech and other social situations beyond your classroom.

Character

During your public speaking course, you may learn terms that apply to your speeches and your daily activities. Credibility, which is trust that you earn from your audience, stems from goodwill, or caring about and considering your audience’s interests as you prepare and present your speech. When you speak to your class, your demonstration of ethics and focus on the audience makes you credible because your speeches revolve around your listeners, instead of yourself. Furthermore, if you relate to your audience by establishing common ground and conversational quality, then your listeners feel connected and want to tune into your presentation.

Competence

Steven Beebe, Susan Beebe and Diana Ivy state in “Communication Principles for a Lifetime” that studying communication improves your health, relationships and employability because your effective speech practices shine in each. Health involves your self-esteem, relationships involve connection and employability involves your professional attributes. When you prepare for a presentation, you may be required to gather sources to cite information. Therefore, you gain a research background that can guide you in other classes and maybe your future job. Also, as an audience member, you may listen to your classmates’ speeches about different subjects, including cultures, which opens your mind to diversity.

Career

You will make yourself more marketable through the assets you have to offer as a result of taking public speaking classes. Expect to deliver your own individual speeches, yet also be ready to do assignments that may call for team skills, such as interviews and group projects. You will learn how to portray yourself, not only in class presentations, but in other media as well, such as social media and your resume and cover letters for schools and jobs. After you finish your public speaking courses, you will have an idea of how you may be perceived by others and the kind of impression you want to project.

References

About the Author

Elaine J. Dispo, a journalist since 1996, specializes in education. She wrote for “Fil-Am Press.” Dispo earned the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Frank W. Buckley Scholarship and the Students In Free Enterprise Sam M. Walton Fellowship. She holds her B.A. and M.A. in Communication and is a Ph.D. candidate.

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