For students today, public speaking and self-presentation is becoming a lost art.
The value of speech is underrated by the hundreds of thousands students studying marketing, advertising or public relations. As a result of the changing digital landscape, we have lost ourselves in media theory, demographic analysis, and data analytics and forget the foundation to obtaining effective results through communication.
Before Qorvis MSLGROUP, I was a public communication instructor at Ball State University. I trained students to speak clearly and confidently in professional or pubic situations, which I found highly rewarding, but often concerning.
Watching a first semester freshman struggle to find their voice in front of an unfamiliar audience was expected; however, to watch a soon-to-be graduating senior flounder and nervously stumble through their first professional presentation was worrisome.
Even more perplexing, these students were the new fresh faces of a growing field of future marketers, advertisers and PR professionals. I wondered, how could these communication-based disciplines neglect such a vital tool for gaining employment and also one necessary for translating key messages to relevant audiences?
This was not an isolated phenomenon. I have worked at other agencies, where I witnessed many client meetings, interviews, and training sessions go down in flames. I watched helplessly as colleagues and supervisors fumbled through media pitches and sales meetings, diminishing their credibility with every passing minute.
Marketing, advertising, public relations, nursing, law, or any other client-based profession is dependent on an ability to communicate with others face-to-face. There is no greater skill than the ability to speak clearly and confidently. What good are website traffic statistics if you are unable to confidently describe them to a client group?
Although I cannot say why educators and company trainers overlook such a critical tool, I can assign some homework for those who wish to improve:
Starting today, your assignment is to be more public.
- Take additional public speaking courses or media training. These classes can forever transform the way you speak and present yourself.
- If you are currently employed, ask your supervisor to lead a small training session or group activity.
- Talk to more strangers. You can start by asking for directions or greeting others in an elevator. This technique will help you become more concise and confident with your communication.
- Interact more with groups. For instance, instead of eating alone, have lunch in public or with your colleagues. Rather than staying in the home to relax, spend some time in busier parts of you neighborhood.
While these suggestions might seem ineffective at first, overtime they go a long way in building self-confidence and improving your skill at speaking concisely.
It doesn’t matter if you are currently looking for a job or are already a central part of a company; your ability to communicate orally is vital. To gain employment you need a solid interview. To get a raise, one needs to clearly articulate their value. To display your company’s progress to a client, you must be concise, organized and confident under pressure. Just remember, it doesn’t matter if you are an expert at social media, if you are an amateur at social interaction.
By Aaron Estabrook