Importance of Public Speaking
Story of Ananya
I want to share a story of Ananya* (name changed). She is a grade 5 student. She is sincere in her studies and is in the top 5 in her class. One day, a senior teacher walked into the classroom. She wanted to select 2 students from Ananya’s class for the theme assembly. Ananya has been avoiding going on stage due to her stage fright (fear of public speaking). She did the same this time as well. She hid under the desk so that her teacher could not see her.
The teacher looked around the class and selected 2 students and went away. Ananya was relieved.
People like Ananya grow up with severe fear of public speaking. They are fine speaking with others one-to-one but are not comfortable speaking on the stage.
21st Century – Public Speaking is part of literacy
In the 20th century Ananya could still survive in her career. No more in the 21st century. TED calls this as Presentation Literacy and it is as critical as the 3Rs (Read, Write and Arithmatic) . There are several reports from Business Insider to Times of India which highlights the importance of public speaking in one’s career. It is part of the top 10 skills required by every adult.
The most important point is mentioned by Warren Buffet. He says that good public speaking is an asset which will give returns for 50-60 years. See this video.
Myths about public speaking
So why is that people do not pay attention to this important skill? It is due to some myths and those need to be corrected.
Myth 1: My child has learned language and knows how to speak. So, he will be able to do public speaking.
Clarification: Public Speaking and Speaking are not the same. Public speaking is an art which requires specific techniques.
Myth 2: Public speaking is god gifted. Some people are born with abilities to speak to an audience.
Clarification: It is not god gifted. It is an acquired skill. The texture of voice can be god gifted and one cannot do much about it. But every person can develop this ability to speak in public.
Myth 3: There is no need to learn public speaking. It will develop naturally.
Clarification: Public Speaking does not develop naturally. If that was the case, all adults should be good public speakers and need not have any stage fear. This is an art, one needs to learn and practice it.
You may not have gone for any class, but your child would need to.
Myth 4: One can learn when one grows up.
Clarification: Behavioural skills are very difficult to be taught to adults. It takes time to develop. Therefore, one needs to start early. The big advantage of starting early is time available to try, learn and practice.
You can afford to lose in an elocution competition in primary school but not mess up a job interview due to poor public speaking.
Myth 5: My child goes to the best of CBSE/ICSE/IB schools. They are teaching it.
Clarification: Schools are not teaching public speaking. Yes, they do provide platforms for using public speaking.
But conducting recitation and elocution competition is not same as training in public speaking.
- Public speaking is important
- It can be developed
- It needs to start early
It will develop only if you learn and apply what you learn. So, next time when the teacher comes to the class, Ananya should raise her hand for participating in the theme assembly.