Public Speaking and You

1 Why should I learn public speaking?

Before we launch into how to speak in public, let’s take a moment to consider why. In this chapter you’ll learn the many benefits of public speaking and why it’s so important to your career.

The benefits of public speaking

Learning to present effectively has many benefits that will positively affect your career, education and personal life. These benefits include:

  • Communicating clearly with others
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • Managing stress
  • Improved polish and professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Listening skills
  • Giving feedback
  • Being able to “

What are you most excited about learning in this course?


Why are public speaking skills so important? An incredibly brief history of communication

A time before reading & writing

Long ago there was no writing. Information, culture and history were passed down orally. In other words, people told stories. If you wanted power or influence you had to be a great presenter.

 

(CC BY-SA 4.0- image by Sharon L. Flynn)

An example of this is Canada’s Indigenous peoples, including Vancouver’s Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh communities. They had no written language, so they used stories, such as the ones symbolized in these totem poles in Stanley Park, to pass down wisdom.

The rise of written communication

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Then came a major shift – the rise of written communication. The printing press was introduced to Europe in the mid-1400’s, which meant that books could be mass produced. The western world became more and more literate over the following centuries, and the influence of written communication grew. Instead of just stories and presentations, reading and writing became a major way of wielding power. If you wanted to influence people, you’d write books or own a newspaper.

Radio, television, and the return to presentations

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The arrival of radio and television marked another major shift – this time away from the written word and back towards presentations. People still read books and newspapers, but radio and TV allowed them to see and hear other people presenting live.

More and more channels grew as we continued this trend away from just words and towards media presentations. In the 1980s and 1990s, if you wanted power, or to influence people, you’d own a TV network.

Today, and new media

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This brings us today. People have shorter attention spans and don’t want to read as a much. We love to watch content (YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook videos). And all of that content is basically other people presenting – speaking in public. Tons of people are doing it, and in super engaging ways.

In many ways we’ve come full circle since the ancient days of needing to be a good presenter in order to influence people. The difference today is that instead of influencing small groups, you can reach millions of people.

Because we see so many engaging presentations every day, being able to present well is becoming an expectation – not just on social media, but in real life. Reading and writing still counts, but many situations – including video applications and online interviews – require strong presentation skills.

Presentation skills – the ability to communicate clearly, professionally and confidently – are crucial to compete in today’s job market and progress in your career.


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License

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Business Presentation Skills by Lucinda Atwood and Christian Westin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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