Public Speaking Skills: Soft or Hard? 

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Public speaking is a skill that require good social and communication skills

What is a Hard and a Soft Skill? 

Hard skills are technical abilities learned and improved through repetition and continuous practice. They play a significant part in improving the productivity of a person, needed in today’s resume-centered era.  

Hard skills are abilities that can be certified formally. Some examples of hard skills include proficiency in a foreign language, Microsoft office (excel, word, etc.), SEO Marketing, Coding etc. 

Soft skills on the other hand play an equally vital role in enhancing the credentials of a person. They are non-technical abilities that focus on your interaction skills, problem solving, communication skills, management skills etc.  

Furthermore, soft skills are important in the work-field making an individual a preferred candidate; because they are transferable irrespective of the job description and more difficult to learn unlike hard skills. There are many soft skills one could have like listening skills, communication skills, teamwork, Interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence etc. 

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills  

Hard Skills Soft Skills 
Proficiency can be proved through certificates May not be certified formally 
Can be learned through practice and teaching  Skills may be difficult to acquire in a traditional learning way 
Focus on practical skills  Focus on social skills 
Rules of hard skills remain same regardless of the job Soft skill rules may change depending on the job description 

“The worst speech you’ll ever give will be far better than the one that you never give”

-Fred Miller-

What is Public Speaking ?

Public speaking is a speech that you have to deliver in front of a live audience. It may have a variety of purposes: to inform, to entertain, to persuade, to share, to educate, to influence etc. It can occur in different settings/situations in the office, in school, at a wedding, at the parliament etc.  

It can be used in daily life when one gives a presentation or pep talks. Further it is also a notable communication form. Imagine having participated in a local soccer match and the rival team is almost 5 points ahead of you; it is a time out and your whole team has given up and is demotivated. However, your captain gathers everyone around and gives a great speech to lift your spirits; now your team is playing better than ever and is leading on the scoreboard. All because of a well-crafted pep talk.  

That is why public speaking is said to be an important skill for an individual to have. But, is it a hard skill or a soft skill? 

Is Public Speaking a Hard Skill or a Soft Skill? 

Till now you might have understood which type of skill is public speaking. And you are somewhat right, public speaking is technically and majorly said to be a soft skill that requires a fair amount of ability and enthusiasm along with effective communication skills to interact with the audience. 

Conversely, an article from inc.com states that public speaking and persuasion can also be classified under the umbrella of hard skills as they note public speaking as an important skill that one can develop. Furthermore, they even mention that there is a certificate in Warren Buffet’s office that he earned after finishing a course in public speaking and he also expresses that it is his most valuable degree.  

Now the question is why did Buffet say that, what is the importance of public speaking? 

Importance of Public Speaking  

The importance of public speaking has seen a rise in many fields in the last few years. Moreover, due to technological advances, it has become easier to reach out to a bigger audience. Thus, a lot of fields demand for an individual to have a good deal of public speaking skills for their ideas and thoughts to get through to and captivate the attention of majority of audiences.  

Some reasons why public speaking is important may include: 

  1. Social Connecting Building 

Engaging in public speaking helps you portray your thoughts in front of a large crowd. This further attracts people with similar thoughts and interests and causes them to approach and associate with you, hereby increasing your connections. 

  1. Getting your message through  

Delivering an important message clearly to a crowd is important and having fine public speaking skills means half your job is done. Despite having all the information and knowledge of a topic, lacking in the ability to speak in front of an audience would make your knowledge good for nothing and give you a hard in grabbing the attention of your audience.  

  1. Confidence Boosting 

People who are good at public speaking are often better influencers and have higher levels of confidence. Overcoming the fear of public speaking is truly stimulating and thus helps in boosting the confidence of an individual. The confidence of a person grows by shifting from talking in front of a small group to a large crowd.  

  1. Influencing  

Through public speaking you can get to a large population, influencing a lot of people by expressing your viewpoint and making them ponder over it. It helps you take part in making a change in the world consequently making it a better place to live. 

  1. Enhances team management skills  

For instance, you are made the head of a particular project, however your public speaking skills are not good. As soon as you are told to speak in front of a group, you start feeling anxious and nervous and cannot address your team properly. Do you think your team would listen to you? Would you be able to manage your team effectively? Would the organization you work for ever give you an opportunity to lead a project again? Do not think so, right? Therefore, it is especially important to develop public speaking skills in order to efficiently lead and manage the people around you. 

  1. Vocabulary improvement and fluency  

Frequently speaking in front of the public will not only boost your confidence but also help in improving your vocabulary and fluency. It will lead you to use less fillers like um, uh etc. while speaking, avoiding your listeners from thinking that you are nervous or unsure about your words or thoughts.  

Impact of Public Speaking Skills on a resume 

Plethora of work fields nowadays require having the skill of public speaking. Other hard skills like word or PowerPoint can be learned quickly, however public speaking as a skill becomes rather difficult to quickly learn. So, the employers give more preference to a candidate who has public speaking as a skill listed in their resume; since this skill vouches for better team management skills, finer communication skills and enhanced leadership skills. 

In addition, these skills will also help you in the management and maintenance of important client relationships, which would even more be a reason to portray you as a potential candidate. To sum up, employers place a foremost importance on public speaking in a resume and could get you promoted to a distinguished role in the organization. 

One can add public speaking as a skill on their resume by listing it under professional skills and mentioning the ways in which these skills have helped them to get deals/clients or efficiently complete a project or a task. One can also add a course certificate in public speaking if they possess one. 

Characteristics of an Effective Public Speaker 

An effective public speaker often understands their target audience and includes aspects that would keep the audience interested along with delivering their message efficiently. One can easily identify a compelling speaker by finding some of these traits in them 

  1. Active listener  

A good public speaker not just speaks but also possesses active listening. They don’t hear, they listen which means that they concentrate on what the person in front of them is saying, perceive the information and understand their viewpoint so they can clear the audience’s doubt and reply adequately. Additionally, this also helps them understand what it is that their listeners want to know. 

  1. Confidence reflects in their voice 

One could even notice confidence reflecting in their voice and not only on their face, you would not observe any fillers in their speech. They would be able to clearly get through their message to their audience without fumbling. Moreover, they would comfortably be able to pass a controversial comment without even breaking a sweat. 

  1. A will to learn along with an open mind  

A good public speaker always has an open mind and is willing to learn about new and different opinions and ideas. This helps them to keep themselves updated with the latest information and keep up even with the latest generation, making their knowledge less outdated and aiding them in relating with the audience. 

  1. Creativity 

Being creative is important in every skill to stand out from rest. Even during public speeches, it is crucial to be creative to leave an everlasting impression on your audience. Everybody knows how to answer but only some have the ability to answer smartly that leaves the audience in awe. One of the people with this quality is the Bollywood celebrity Shahrukh Khan. One can notice in his speeches and the talk shows and speeches that he will always have a witty reply and it will stand out from the rest.

Below are the links for some of the videos of Shahrukh Khan’s Speech and witty reply:

  1. Sense of Humor 

Imagine that an incident happened when you were giving your speech like you fumbled while speaking, made a mistake or tripped on something and the environment quickly transformed to a tense one what would you? Here is where a good sense of humor comes into play. Many speakers can diffuse the tension with humor by cracking a joke or making fun of themself. The ability to handle the situation using this skill helps you to connect with the audience and makes them comfortable around you. 

Developing Public Speaking Skills since Childhood  

As you may have noticed above, having good public speaking skills could help individuals in a lot of fields and situations throughout their life. For this reason, learning public speaking becomes crucial during childhood which could further help them in the future by helping the children to express their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings openly and easily. Likewise, it also encourages the personal development of the child. To know more about how kids could benefit from public speaking, you could read our article 10 Benefits Of Public Speaking For Kids (How To Teach Them)

How to Improve your Public Speaking 

Nobody is born with polished skills in any area, there is always room for improvement and no age for learning. Similarly, as for public speaking you could start learning if you are not good at it or make it even better if you are fairly good at it. Some tips to improve public speaking are  

  1. Winning over the public speaking fear 
Being anxious before a speech is natural behavioral reaction

 Almost everyone fears public speaking. Dry mouth, sweaty palms, fidgeting hands, restless eyes, all of these are probable symptoms one could observe in a person before public speaking and some of you may have even felt it during some point of their lifetime. All these feelings are obvious but the audience shouldn’t sense this fear (or you sound unsure) or they won’t believe a word you say and will immediately lose interest and stop connecting with you.  

Therefore, to calm yourself down before the speech, you could loosen up a bit or try to meditate; this might make you much more composed during the speech.  

Another hack that could be tried to make yourself comfortable around the listeners is imagining the audience as familiar faces or the people you know. This way one could express themself more freely in front of the crowd. 

To learn how to not appear nervous even though you are check out our video below: 

  1. Thorough with your content  

Another way to make your public speaking flow smoothly is practicing, becoming thorough with your content. Basically, knowing your content so well that even if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night you could be able talk about it from head to toe. Along with this you could even research a bit more about your topic to improve your QandA sessions. 

  1. Acquaintance with the Environment  

If possible, visit the place that you are going to speak at and practice there beforehand with the purpose of getting acquainted at least with the space, feeling comfortable speaking in that environment. 

  1. Add personal experiences  

If you want your audience to connect with you try to add personal experiences, opinions, and stories. This could make you more relatable to the audience and make them more prone to trust the point you are making as they believe you have experienced it. 

 For instance, if you loosely tell the audience that a particular restaurant is not good and they shouldn’t visit it, they may or may not listen to your advice and visit that restaurant. However, if you have ever visited that restaurant and narrate your personal experience in detail to them about how the service was slow and the food was cold, they might be more prone to not visit the restaurant. 

  1. Start well and end well  

Lastly, remember to start your speech in an interesting way (with interesting/weird facts, anecdotes, jokes etc.) gaining the full focus of the audience, with them wanting to hear more from you (make sure keep them invested throughout!). Likewise, have a strong ending in order to make an impact on people’s minds even after you part ways. (Make your speech live in their minds for a long time rent free!!) 

Conclusion 

In conclusion public speaking skill can come in handy all through your life. If you hone these skills correctly it can get you to higher places. Public speaking has and always will influence a great part of human society. Therefore, to unlock the reward of getting your voice heard, public speaking is the key.

To learn about the greatest public speaker of all time read our article 15 Greatest Public Speakers Of All Time

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