Public speaking is the number one fear in America. Death is, somehow, a distant second.
As the famous Jerry Seinfeld punch line goes, “This means to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” From sweaty palms and bundles of nerves to a cracking voice and butterflies in your stomach, speaking in public can be downright terrifying.
So, even though your college offers a course in speech communication, chances are you might be tempted to avoid it like the plague. However, taking a public speaking class has some surprising benefits. Here are five reasons everyone should take a public speaking course:
1. You’re likely to need the experience it offers.
Although the majors that are most in demand vary from time to time, the skills that employers seek in their new applicants are nearly identical year after year. A 2013 survey by the National Association of College and Employers found that the ability to communicate effectively is the quality employers most want to see in new recruits.
Regardless of the career you have planned, you’re bound to find yourself in situations where you’ll need to give an oral presentation. Whether you’re an accountant, an architect, a surgeon or a scuba instructor — communication skills are essential for your career development.
Furthermore, outside of the workplace, the likelihood that you’ll end up speaking in public is also quite significant, whether that be at church, a school board meeting or a community event. Plus, if you are asked to say a few words at a funeral or are encouraged to give a toast at your best friend’s wedding, thanks to your speech class, you’ll be more than ready. You’ll be confident and experienced.
2. It will help you ace your other classes.
The skills you’ll learn in a public speaking course will help you succeed in your other courses. Regardless of your major, many college classes will require some sort of presentation. Why not go ahead and discover how to make your presentations interesting, informative, and entertaining? Additionally, a public speaking class will give you experience in applying your abilities as a researcher and critical thinker, which will surely aid you in other classes.
3. It will help you be a better listener.
Listening may be a lost art, but a public speaking course actually teaches you to become a better listener. In the class you’ll hear several different kinds of speeches about a wide variety of topics from people who may be very different from you, which can be a beautiful thing. And while the instruction you’ll receive about being an active listener will help you do things like take better notes in your classes, the real benefits of being a better listener are relational.
Effective communication can help you develop more meaningful relationships with the people you care about and that, of course, starts with listening. After all, listening is the communication activity we do the most, but it’s the skill we’re taught the least.
4. It encourages you to voice your ideas and take advantage of the influence you have.
It’s no secret that people throughout history have used the power of public speaking to make a difference. A public speaking course, if you approach it with the right perspective, is a great chance to do the same thing.
You’ll hardly ever have a better opportunity to speak to a captive audience about what really matters to you. You’ll get a chance to influence your peers. You won’t change the world with every speech, but you can easily impact someone in some small way. Then, you can continue to speak up and make a difference long after the semester’s over.
5. It teaches you to punch fear in the face.