Public speaking in its simplest definition is the act of speaking in front of people with the sole or combined purpose of informing, entertaining, or influencing. The core of public speaking is communication. We speak for the reason that we want to communicate an idea.
Video 1: the Communication Process (courtesy of IISD CommApps, Youtube)
Public speaking as a course of study can be traced back to 600 BC with the ancient Greeks. In the many Greek city-states, students studied the techniques on how to improve their oratorical skills. Oration in ancient Greece was very important as it was a means to succeed in politics or in Greek society in general. Aristotle’s "Rhetoric" is a collection of his students’ notes on his lectures about oratorical argumentation and is considered by many as the cornerstone of modern public speaking. Aristotle’s ideas broadened the scope of public speaking, freeing it from its purely civic and political functions.
Today public speaking is a very different art form and course of study. With the recent advances in technology, public speakers and students are now faced with the challenge of using (and competing against) these technologies effectively. Regardless of these changes the core of public speaking is still the same—communication.
Why You Need Public Speaking?
As they say, “No man is an island.” In order for you to work productively in a group, office, or organization, you need to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas to the right audience with a structure or manner that befits the situation or context—knowing when, what, how, and whom to speak. Public speaking, therefore, is important for accountants, nurses, engineers, teachers, managers, and even entrepreneurs and business people.
Nowadays, having the skills, knowledge, and talent is no longer enough if you want fulfill your fullest potential in whatever field you have chosen. Many companies and organizations place a very high value on communication skills even with the current technologies which somewhat circumvent face-to-face communication. People who have achieved great success in their field have the ability to stand up and present their ideas convincingly to a single person or to a large audience (case and point, Steve Jobs).
Video 2: Best of Steve Jobs (courtesy of Randyvdmeer, Youtube)
Right now as a student, communication is an integral component in your learning. Every day, your instructors and professors expect from you to participate during class discussions and present oral reports. Furthermore, before you get your diploma, you will have to present and defend your thesis in front of a panel. Studying public speaking will arm you with the necessary techniques and methods that will make these tasks more manageable.
In more altruistic terms, public speaking is a tool for ordinary citizens to express their concerns and opinions on issues that can affect the lives of many. History has taught us that a whole nation, if not the whole world, can be inspired just by one speech that was effectively communicated. In fact, the right to free speech is enshrined in the 1987 Philippine constitution. Article III, section 4 states that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech. Knowing that not all countries provide the same right to their citizens, as a member of a democratic society, you should exercise this right for the betterment of our country.
Video 3: Ninoy Aquino, 1981 (courtesy of Richard Roque, Youtube)