Why is Public Speaking Important?

Confidence equals CompetenceWith the upcoming presidential election in the US, a big emphasis will be on how each candidate communicates effectively in the upcoming debates, so I thought this might be a good backdrop to explain why public speaking skills are so important to a person’s success. One of the phrases that I use often when I teach a Fearless Presentations ® public speaking class is that people around you will determine your competence by the level of confidence that you portray. Many of us will determine who our candidate of choice will be based entirely on a speech that the candidate gives. In fact, the absolute best way for a candidate to garner support for his/her campaign is from public speaking. If a candidate communicates with self-confidence, he/she will be seen as being a good leader. The same is true for you and your success as well. Basically, your peers will determine how good you are at your work and how trust-worthy you are by how well you communicate and how confident you appear to them when you speak.

People will determine your competence by the confidence that you portray.

Think about any profession where people’s lives depend on the skill of a single person such as a surgeon, an airplane pilot, or a military officer. If you think about it, the general public will typically never have access to any of these people’s college transcripts or work history, for that matter. We will often make a snap judgement about the person’s competence by how confident the person appears to us. The first perception that most airline travelers have of their pilot is when he/she talks to the cabin on the intercom just after takeoff. If the pilot is stuttering or stumbling for words, the travelers will likely begin to get extremely nervous. If your surgeon comes into your hospital room, and you are able to see his hands shaking as he talks to you about your procedure, you will likely want a second opinion very quickly. And military officers spend years perfecting their stance and communication techniques while at the same time perfecting their military tactics.

One of the challenges that many professionals face is that we spend years in school and then additional years in actual practice perfecting our business skills, but very few professionals ever spend time perfecting their presentation skills. If you want to be seen as the expert in your industry or as the “go to” person in your profession, just like in the presidential race, the best way for you to garner support is to present your ideas effectively to a group. For instance, if you have a fantastic idea for an improvement in a process at your office, you might be able to garner support for that idea slowly if you communicate with your peers or executives one at a time, but if you can quickly and persuasively communicate that same idea in an interesting presentation, not only will you be able to share the idea faster, but you will also be seen as the expert on that topic.

One of the most interesting things that we professional speakers have figured out over the years is that the person who stands up to present a topic is always seen as having more authority on the subject than the people in the audience. (Obviously, if someone else in the audience was more knowledgeable on the subject, then he or she would be the speaker, right?) This is often true even if other people in the audience are more of an expert on the subject than the speaker. The automatic assumption of the audience is that the speaker is an authority on the subject.

So, if you want to be seen as an expert in your industry or want to garner support for an idea, a well designed and well delivered presentation is a fantastic way to prove it! If you’d like help becoming more poised or confident when you speak in front of a group or if you want to be more persuasive and charismatic when you present, join us for one of our two-day Fearless Presentations ® public speaking classes in cities all over the world.


Author: Doug Staneart, Date Published: 08/15/15

Doug Staneart is the CEO of The Leader's Institute. LLC and founder of the Fearless Presentations class. He is author of Fearless Presentations, Mastering Presentations, and 28 Ways to Influence People.

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