Is Public Speaking a Skill?
Have you ever seen that one speaker who was glowing on stage?
They were charming, had a great message & knew how to deliver it.
And you wondered ‘Gee…I wish I could do that.’
So let me ask you. Why can’t you do what that speaker is doing?
What makes them different from you?
When you ponder this question, you start becoming curious about a BIG question in the communication skills world:
Is public speaking a skill?
Your response to that question will allow you to ponder your next move/s.
This article is going to help you start thinking the right way.
For many years, I was a shy, soft-spoken kid who mumbled.
But for the past few years, I have given speeches in front of 300 people & served in leadership positions for public speaking clubs like Toastmasters.
Is public speaking a skill???
Let us find out.
What is A Skill?
There are plenty of definitions for a skill.
The official term on Google states that a skill: is the ability to do something well.
I don’t know about you. But that is a very unsatisfying definition of the word.
Let me take a stab at it.
I view a skill as: an act that can be learned, practiced & mastered.
If you think about it, you are a bucket of skills right now.
‘What skill do I have?’
Let’s use brushing your teeth as an example.
You weren’t born with the ability to brush your teeth.
Instead, you learned it.
At first, you probably struggled with an efficient way to hold a toothbrush and make scrubbing motions.
But after a lot of practice, you improved.
Nowadays, you are so good at brushing your teeth, that you don’t even think about it!
It’s just a subconscious act.
Think of 5 other skills that you have learned before proceeding onto the next section.
Is Public Speaking a Skill?
Now that we understand what a skill means, let’s answer the question of whether or not public speaking is a skill.
Public speaking is something that you can learn, practice & master!
What, you thought people were born brilliant publics speakers?
Last time I checked, I never saw a 3-year-old structuring a speech & delivering it.
It’s a skill.
And when you digest this concept, you should feel VERY hopeful.
When evaluating a skill, don’t just measure where you are now.
Rather, measure where you are and where you want to be.
If you are not a great public speaker right now, then your story is not over.
Instead, it is just getting started.
Before you decide to commit to this skill, ask yourself why?
And your WHY needs to be grand.
“Because I want to be a good public speaker” is not a grand enough WHY.
Like I said earlier, if you practice, then you will get good.
But what’s going to keep you going AFTER you get good?
My personal WHY was huge.
For me to commit to the task, I decided that I wanted to become more confident.
Confidence is not a final state. Instead, it is a lifelong act.
When I discovered that public speaking could be the gateway towards confidence, I began my journey and never looked back.
How Should You Begin Investing in the Public Speaking Skill?
There are plenty of ways to begin.
I simply started to go to Toastmasters & began giving a lot of speeches.
But since doing this for a while, I would like to give you a renewed framework.
We’ve heard the term: great writers are great readers.
In the public speaking world: great speakers are great watchers.
Start watching more public speaking content.
That can range from watching comedians, politicians, storytellers etc.
Just watch how they carry themselves on stage & how they deliver a message.
This gets your subconscious mind soaking up proper speech etiquette.
‘Can I read any books?’
Sure. I wouldn’t read TOO much.
But 2 public speaking books I recommend are:
No Fear Speaking by Joe Yazbeck.
- This book gives you the basics of a speech, how to create it & how to deliver it.
How to Become a Million Dollar Speaker by Elliot Saltzman.
- This book gives you the perspective of a professional speaker who shares insights of the public speaking industry.
Once you have some baseline knowledge, I recommend you start executing!
2 ways of execution:
1. Practice at home: Just buy a camera or use your phone & begin recording yourself speaking. No need to plan too much. Just think of a topic, and begin delivering it. Analyze your tonality, message quality & body language.
2. Give speeches: For this, I recommend joining a local Toastmasters & giving speeches. They are a very great resource that loves taking in new members.
- Consume public speaking content. Watch speakers & occasionally read books on it.
- Practice speaking mindfully.
- Practice at home in front of a camera.
- Join a Toastmasters.
If you are serious about public speaking, you couldn’t get a more straightforward blueprint than that!
Now, you just need to begin.
Public Speaking Practice
Let me ask you a question.
Do you think Lebron James is ever like: You know what, I figured out basketball. No need to practice anymore!
‘Of course not.’
Why do you think that is?
‘Because he knows he can always get better.’
Same with public speaking.
You never FULLY perfect public speaking.
Instead, you keep perfecting it.
So I warn you not to get cocky or complacent.
There were many people that I knew in Toastmasters who figured out how to give a speech, and then they took their foot off the gas pedal.
They stopped practicing and allowed themselves to get rusty.
Don’t be like that.
You are putting in a lot of work for a reason.
Always keep this skillset sharp.
Volunteer whenever there are speaking opportunities.
Record your speeches.
Watch them back.
This is a lifelong journey, my friend.
Public speaking is one of those sports that you get better at with time.
So make the most of it.
Become a Public Speaking Maestro
Earlier, we were pondering, is public speaking a skill?
Now we KNOW that it is.
What’s funny is that public speaking is the number 1 fear in the world.
But when you start internalizing that you will get better the more that you practice, you will feel extra confident.
In this interconnected world, public speakers stand out like none other.
You don’t have to become a professional speaker.
It’s okay to be the person who wants to learn public speaking to give a speech at their child’s school board meeting.
Public speaking is a tool.
How you use it is completely up to you.
So begin learning this evergreen art!
That’s how you will separate yourself from the herd & become a maestro along the way.