Super investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, ranks third on the Forbes list of the top 10 billionaires. People tend to listen to his advice, and a recent piece says investing in public speaking skills can increase a person’s value by 50%.
Buffett admits that he was initially terrified at the prospect of speaking before a crowd. So why is public speaking so important? GoodCall® asks three experts to weigh in.
Dr. AJ. Marsden, an assistant professor of psychology and human services at Beacon College in Leesburg, FL, calls Buffett’s first reaction typical. “Almost 75 percent of Americans admit to experiencing public speaking anxiety,” Marsden says. But she believes this is a phobia worth overcoming because public speaking proves to be beneficial in a variety of ways.
Brian Braudis, president of The Braudis Group, says, “Sharpen your public speaking skills and it’s as though a flat, smooth carpet has rolled out in front of each step you take on your professional journey.” Braudis calls it a linchpin skill that demonstrates a variety of strengths.
Public speaking enhances self-esteem/confidence
The ability to master public speaking can significantly increase an individual’s level of self-esteem. “By overcoming a fear (such as public speaking), we increase our self-confidence and feel more comfortable about success in the future,” Marsden says. With each successful occurence, she says anxiety levels decline and self-insurance increases.
Being comfortable and confident leads to other positives. According to Jim Kokocki, immediate past international president of Toastmasters, “Those who are comfortable with their public speaking ability are more likely to share their ideas and comments, and this demonstrates confidence and leadership potential.”
The importance of audience assessment
The art of public speaking involves the ability to connect with and gauge the audience. “Good public speakers are not afraid to stand in front of people and sell their ideas, share knowledge and inspire an audience,” Braudis says. In fact, salesmanship is one skill that all college students should learn, regardless of major.
But this also includes measuring the effectiveness of the message and being able to make changes on the spot. Kokocki says that a strong public speaker must be able to assess the audience’s reaction. “In the simplest form, this means judging if the group understands the message, but it also means assessing if there are some who are resistant to the message or confused by the message, and then making necessary adjustments.”
While many people may think that being an effective public speaker is merely speaking well, Kokocki says it’s much more than that. “It’s working to ensure the message is received, understood, accepted and acted upon, he explains.
Preparation and analytical thinking
One thing that separates the good public speakers from the bad ones is the ability to deliver a coherent message within the designated time frame. “Good public speakers have a point or a goal for the audience and they connect it to the entire message they have built,” Braudis says. “This shows they have good planning skills and they can stay on point.”
Along with the ability to be decisive and organized, developing public speaking skills increases critical thinking skills, which is one of the traits employers seek in new college grads. “Preparing and giving a speech forces an individual to reassess communication behaviors and habits and helps improve communication skills,” Marsden says.
Knowing that you need to hold a person’s or a crowd’s attention can motivate you to be clever and precise in your delivery. “The skills developed by public speaking can help one obtain a better job because he or she presents well during the job interview,” she explains. The ability to think quickly and answer oddball interview questions is essential in today’s job market.
The career advantage of public speaking
Since most people have a fear of public speaking, Marsden says that those who develop this skill early have a significant advantage over the competition.
Braudis agrees and believes that showcasing this skill in the workplace demonstrates a level of professionalism that can transfer to several areas. “Most everyone would safely assume that if you were good at public speaking, you would easily find success in sales, customer service or leading a division, branch or an organization.”
The ability to express ideas, exhibit passion and energy, and inspire trust in the audience through public speaking are all components that Braudis believes will make an employee a valuable member of the organization.
He concludes, “This is the linchpin skill that keeps on giving – it can showcase you as a highly valuable asset.”