Why public speaking course is important to college students?
College studies are the main key for social mobilization and for sound professional development. The role of college has gone beyond the classical role of academy; its responsibility is to prepare its students at all levels, in particular to develop the interpersonal traits which are critical to succeed in the “new economy”. This responsibility of colleges has evolved from several main foundations; the main one is the new structure of jobs.
Today’s jobs are much more specific than they were in the past, and are expected to continue this pattern in the future; the 1920s “all-around” banker has disappeared, and has been replaced by the investment consultant, the loans clerk, etc. The same happens in most businesses and professions, especially in high-qualified jobs such as medicine and accounting. The direct result on the academic system is that professional training is much more an on-the-job process, whereas colleges are not expected to train students for performing specific tasks, rather than to provide an overview of the relevant field (at best). The graduate will learn a set of assignments to perform and then will be expected to master them only.
Therefore, employers expect college graduates to posses personal characteristics and a set of skills, both professional and personal, needed to succeed in entry-level positions and corporate training. Interpersonal skills play an important role here, with public speaking on one of the most significant of them. In order to understand how material this issue is, let us go back to our banking example.
Most mid- and back office tasks are going through an automation process; bookkeeping is made by designated software and electronic B2C payment systems abandoning any human interference. Hence, employees are responsible for interactions with humans, either costumers or peers. Interpersonal skills on the one-on-one level are a main qualification here, although not the only one.
The advanced levels of employees, those who are promoted, handle groups of people rather than a single person. Those groups might be other employees in the office, department or higher levels. Here the tasks focus on presenting information to colleagues, selling products or services, representing the organization or leading teams. All these professional or managerial jobs require the ability to convey messages in a clear and structured way, as the quality of the message is often determined by the way it is presented; even our favorite music is intolerable when played in a bad sound system; the situation is even worse when the “music” has an unfavorable content, a common situation in business life.
The importance of a public speaking as a part of holistic education can be summarized in these three main points:
First, as mentioned above, well-rounded public speaking skills are a prerequisite for career development in almost every organization. More specific, those who have managerial ambitions cannot afford themselves to neglect this ability.
Second, a specific training in public speaking develops self consciousness and self confidence. Self consciousness in this respect means knowing one’s strong and weak points, notice his or hers social behavior and find ways for improvement. Successful public speaking also leads to development of self confidence, as the aptitude to influence others is connected with strong personality and a clear vision.
Last but not least, processing information for e.g. a presentation is a complicated critical thinking process. The experienced speaker knows that people’s time and attention is limited. It is thus the speaker’s responsibility to transform even the most complicated information to clear, short and simple messages. In the process, the speaker has a chance to reflect on the topic and gain deeper understanding of it, as well its relevance to the audience. Presenting a topic or selling a product is a process of mediation; the speaker is the channel between two spheres, namely the message and the receiver, thus his or hers job is based on understanding the two. For example, a manager who speaks to his subordinates reflects also on them, as a group and individuals. This understanding leads to improvement of other managerial and social skills, such as paying sensitivity to the needs of individuals and keeping a positive work atmosphere.
In conclusion, we as future graduates must pay efforts to this training as an educational experience and its results, namely the art of speaking in front of a crowd. We will need this skill very soon, when we will apply to jobs and will be have to perform well in an interview. Later on, we will continue to face the requirement to speak public at almost every position throughout our career.
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