Are public speaking skills required in college? Let me put this out straight – Well, yes. Public speaking skills are required because it helps you make headway not only in your college but also your career.
For a long time, I had that very question in my mind. College, for me, was all about having more fun and cramming the night before exams for six straight hours. Though I was regular in my attendance for all the sessions, there was this one course I steered clear of. Right, it was the soft-skills classes.
My pre and on-stage jitters made me stay away from attending. But, it was only in my final year during interviews, did I realize how essential soft-skills are.
I’m writing this because I wish there was a write-up like this when I was in college to help me understand the importance and long-term benefits of learning public speaking when I had so many opportunities to do so.
My sincere hope is that it will help you just as much as it would have helped someone in my place when I was in college.
Occasions in College Where You Will be Expected to Speak in Public
Worried how to introduce yourself on the first day of college? Take a deep breath and read on. I was entrapped in a similar situation too. I was afraid to stand up and introduce myself every time I was asked to.
In fact, I still find it hard to answer the “tell me about yourself” question during the interviews. Well anyway, coming to the type of public speaking in college, first and foremost, you should learn to introduce yourself, and when you do that, you’re half-way there. Contradictory enough, right?
The truth is, it’s your introduction that tells a lot about how you can command yourself in front of a (even small) crowd. I always make points and head to the interview. You can start doing that right away when in college.
In college, you’re preparing to step into the corporate world, so it won’t be the way it was in school. Here are some occassions where there’s a good chance you will have to speak in front of people:
- There will be group discussions where the group head might have to go on stage and summarize the points.
- Presentations will be frequent. You will have to prepare a speech and deliver on the given topic.
- College clubs based on your preference are actively involved in campaigns or events where they require members to speak to classrooms full of students.
- If your project is exceptional, you might be called upon the stage at conferences to present your project.
- You might have to be the MC for events during your College festivals. Even if you don’t go voluntarily, there might arrive a time wherein you must fill in for the speaker or are called upon the stage sporadically.
- When it comes to award ceremonies, if you’re in the place of the receiver, then you must be prepared to speak on stage for a minute or two.
We all have may have come across at least one of these points before. You can pray and hope to avoid these occasions. But on the contrary, if you stand up and actually do a good job in front of an audience, you may just be calling some amazing future opportunities.
5 Ways Public Speaking will Benefit You in College
From my school days, I loved working in the backend. Public speaking was never my cup of tea. I managed to get past school and college by delivering hardly one or two speeches.
And then came college. It was during the group discussions and the personal interviews, I realized its value. I screwed up in my first two interviews, but after that, I just kept going, and my name was called out for a bunch of interviews.
It didn’t take long to get better. I was pushed to go out of my comfort zone multiple times to conquer my fear. So here, I’ll tell you what I learned in my journey and why it is necessary.
1. Managerial Skills Improve
Pretty much an obvious one. But, I never realized the importance of it until the final year of my college. Back in school, I was afraid to ask doubts to my teacher, I did not participate in any competitions (except for the ones that required less talk and more work like art competitions), and nor was I the head of my class.
Now that I look back, I realize how necessary it is to take those little steps. If you’ve been like me in school, no worries. College is where you get to start over. Ask questions, lead the class and voluntarily participate in competitions before it’s too late as they will help you get better grades, be responsible, and learn to work in a team.
2. Can Better Structure Your Thoughts
Speaking in public requires one to think rapidly and clearly. Even if you’ve prepared well for your speech, in case you forget a few lines on stage, you need to be clear-headed to fill in the pause. Organizing your thoughts helps you channelize on better things and function well every day.
You will be able to convey your ideas more effectively with friends and professors. There will be fewer moments of miscommunication. The more you go on stage, the more you get to practice organizing your thoughts.
3. Aids in Voicing Out Point of Views
Whether it’s a debate competition in college or a light-hearted debate among your friends about which Netflix special is truly the funniest, the winner is usually the one who knows how to express their opinions.
I was someone who used to form opinions only after hearing my friends’ views. Learning public speaking made me more confident in voicing my own thoughts despite other people having a different point of view.
4. Increases Self-confidence
I was low on confidence and always thought people would judge me based on my opinions. But once you start delivering speeches, after a point, it just doesn’t matter.
I don’t need to tell you the vast benefits of self-confidence. It helps you network better in college, stay motivated, and perform well, be it during presentations or group tasks.
Speaking in public in college boosts your confidence, which in turn will help you advance personally as well as professionally. Having self-confidence will make you more attractive too. In college, that may be of interest to you more than anything else 😉
5. A Learning Journey
Writing a speech is effortless, but writing a speech that moves your audience? Um, nope not that simple. Don’t be intimidated, but speech writing requires knowledge on various topics and a sound vocabulary.
Whether you’re writing a short one-minute speech or a ten-minutes speech, you need to prepare it after thorough research. So, it will be a learning journey for you. There will be moments of embarrassment and moments of victory.
Either ways, the learning will be tremendous and something that you will take with you throughout your life way after college gets over.
The secret of the creative life is to feel at ease with your own embarrassment.Paul Schrader
Related Article : The Ultimate Guide to Structuring a Speech
Right from college, if you improve your public speaking skills, you can go on to become the head of the cultural club in college, be a part of the annual fest or an event, or aid others in managing it.
Now, all these are the brownie points on your resume. Apart from your grades and projects, extracurricular activities add value to your CV as well!
4 Benefits of Public Speaking Skills Post-college
For a long time, I thought I could land a job that did not require a lot of communication skills, maybe like an accountant. But I was wrong. If you wish to be doing well in your career, then you need to possess public speaking skills.
I worked in an organization day and night, even on weekends, but I never got the deserved recognition. I did not expect a gold medal for my work, but a little appreciation like ‘You’ve done a great job!’ was all that I needed. I quit the job as it lowered my self-esteem.
Later, I realized it was my mistake. I did not market myself. Whether you want to get into the marketing field or not, advertising ‘yourself’ is pivotal, be it anywhere. No amount of having an outstanding grade or the number of hours you put in will differentiate you from the rest if you do not know how to promote your work and/or communicate your worth.
Related Article: 5 Ways Public Speaking Can Help You in Business
I’m not saying to be a show-off who loves to hog credit. But learn to take credit and speak up when it’s sincere. Here are a few ways public speaking can help you after graduating from college to avoid making the mistakes I made my first professional years:
1. Can Broaden Your Network
Networking is an integral part of our life. It’s okay if you do not like to be around people, but there’s no harm having acquaintances in life. By networking, ideas get exchanged, you meet new people from different walks of life, understand their perspective, learn teamwork, come up with a solution to a problem, and more.
When you are adept to speaking in front of people, it becomes much easier for you to approach people, make small talk and put yourself in places where you likely to meet similar minded people.
2. Will get Deserved Recognition from People
As I mentioned earlier, working is great, but if it’s not getting recognized, you probably need to work on that. That doesn’t mean you need to be that ‘show-off’ type. But, you should always own it when it’s due.
Being a good communicator will help you take your due credit without you coming off as a credit-hog.
3. Promotion in the Work Front
Another significant aspect is, the more your work gets recognized by your boss, the more are your chances to be ahead of the game. When you deliver speeches during office parties or farewell parties, you get acknowledged.
Most importantly, your presentations in business meetings will take you higher. Psst…I’ll let you know another thing. You get to talk to your crush without being edgy (some things go with you even beyond college ;)).
4. Professional Writing skills Improve.
You learn to be a better writer while learning how to write a speech. For example, in the workplace, sending emails is an important part. A slight error in an email can cost you a major shouting! But, speech writing will help you do that efficiently.
Writing in general is an essential skill. In almost all career paths, some aspect of your work will be around text-based communication, a.k.a. writing. Might as well spend some time working on it!
5 Tips to Become a Better Public Speaker in College
In college, I used to type “How to be confident on stage” on the Google search bar. Every time I read an article, my confidence levels were up. But it was just momentary. I used to go blank whenever I was called on stage. Therefore, I will only tell you this, that is, – Voluntarily Go On Stage.
There is no other mantra, lifehack, or tips to get rid of the fear. Over the years, I realized that we often don’t do things voluntarily unless we love it, as for the ones we hate, we do it only we are forced to. It’s like your fear of heights disappear when you’re pushed from an altitude of 10,000 feet.
As I mentioned previously, there are no tips and tricks to overcome your fear. But, you can do certain things to beat the anxiety that is by physically attending public speaking classes near you. There are online public speaking classes too, but they may not be beneficial in the long-term. So, here are some of the ways to become a better public speaker.
1. Toastmasters Club
Join a Toastmasters International club near you. It’s an organization for the sole purpose of improving your public speaking and managerial skills. Enroll and become a member of the club and you will not regret the decision.
You meet like-minded people, you get to network better, and learn communication skills effectively. It’s a fun and engaging journey with a lot of learning indeed!
2. Volunteer in Your Neighborhood.
If it’s related to public speaking, then well and good. If not, join an NGO, where you might have to teach children subjects, which is one way to better communicate. Volunteering teaches us more than how to communicate better.
The little things like interacting with fellow volunteers, sharing campaign ideas, or hosting events to raise funds can help you improve your communication skills and overall confidence.
3. Visit Events, Conferences, Meetups, and Seminars.
When you visit seminars or other events, watch how they present, make notes of it and try to include it in your speeches. Later, add your personal style to your speeches.
When you attend more events, you can get a precise picture of how to deliver a speech. Right from the tone, body language, introduction, and conclusion. You can learn by observing to be a better speaker.
4. Watch Plenty of Videos of Popular Speakers.
This is an extension of the previous point…
TEDx Talks are the best to understand the subtle things while speaking. Watch them a lot.
You get an idea of how to deliver an effective speech. I really like how unique every talks are. Almost all are engaging and inspirational.
Each individual has a personal style. Observe how they present, the way they engage their audience, whether they use a prop or not, and if they are, then how are they relating it to the topic, and more.
5. Conduct a Storytelling Session
It can be at home or during family meetups. Story-telling sessions are a great way to improve your confidence. Including personal stories will help you a lot in formal speeches too.
Personal stories always tend to engage your audience, therefore, storytelling sessions will help you improve your narrating skills. A good speaker will always be a good storyteller.
Can I avoid Public Speaking in College?
Of course, you can avoid public speaking in college. Right before an important presentation in college, you can either not attend the college for the entire day or sneak out right before the presentation by calling in sick.
If it’s a group presentation, then not to worry, but if you’re called on-spot, nothing can be done. However, during such times, you can buy time before going on stage by presenting valid reasons until your class gets over. So, by the time your turn comes, your professor will tell you to deliver the speech the following day probably.
But, you need to keep in mind that it will cost you a lot in the end. It’s just a temporary thing because someday or the other, you will be called up on stage to give an impromptu speech and you would regret every bit of avoiding presentations in college.
Moreover, it is not about speaking on stage in front of a large crowd. We come across plenty of people every day and interact with them. It’s necessary to know to interact with different people.
Therefore, Public speaking is not just about improving your skills on stage, it’s about improving your overall communication, and in life, you can never “avoid” communication.
Over to You
Public Speaking Skills are required not only in college but in every field of life. There’s no way to escape public speaking in life. Whether it’s school, college, or work, you will be made to speak on a topic at least once.
It’s a must-have life skill. Giving your thoughts a voice can be quite challenging, but how a new born baby falls multiple times to stand up, you will have to get up, go on stage, fail a couple of times to be a better speaker. Change your outlook towards public speaking, and naturally, you will be able to present effectively.
There is a multitude of ways to overcome your fears, but all you need is a kick-start to being able to stand without the anxiety on stage. That little push should come from you, and no one else. Calm your nerves, breathe and face it no matter what. There’s no shortcut to it. Overwhelm your anxiety, get started, and never give up.