Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Public Speaking: A Valuable Skill

There are skills you just don’t learn from textbooks. In fact, you can’t.

When learned and possibly mastered, these skills can distinguish one from the crowd and in this day and age where the crowd is much bigger than before, being different from the crowd might be what one needs.

Most of what makes a skill is not theory, hence you can’t learn it in a class or two. Theory can only take you so far. A skill is honed beyond the four walls of a classroom, through real life experiences. In other words, you have to get out there and try it.

Learning through experience requires one to be brave enough to make mistakes (not deliberately, of course). Making mistakes is not something that you want to put in your CV under the “educational background” section.

However, making mistakes is by far one of the best ways to learn and to improve yourself. Even if you are not willing to share your mistakes with others, you should at least be willing to try your best, while knowing that mistakes can be just around the corner.

But you take the risk anyway, because what lies after that corner might be a treasure you didn’t imagine existed before – a treasure you didn’t know was meant for you.

Having said that though, if making mistakes alone is enough to make you great, then everyone would be great because no one is free of mistakes. So you can’t just stop there. Making mistakes is only one half of the equation. Making mistakes is the falling down after you trip.

The next logical step is to get back up, dust yourself off, and try again while avoiding the same mistake that made you trip before.

The things I mentioned above can be applied to pretty much any skill. If it is a type of skill, then it requires real life practice, courage to try, and learning from mistakes.

One such skill is public speaking skill.

They say people rather die than speaking in public, but that is an obvious overkill. If I put a gun to your head, I can safely assume that you would grab the mic than to be shot dead.

Having said that, one should not turn a blind eye on the fact that the fear of public speaking is real. Yes, people are generally scared of public speaking. They don’t want to be under the spotlight, in front of many judging eyes (at least that is what they think these eyes are doing).

Facing that fear requires strength. Many can fall, but few can rise again. Perhaps, you are among the few who rise again – if you want to be. I think that what makes it a very marketable skill, if not, the most marketable skill.

It is marketable not only in the sense that it can generate a lot of money and earn you a lot of recognition. If wealth and status are our ultimate aim, then those are a very cheap and spiritless aim. The skill is only as valuable as what you use it for.

What are you using your public speaking skill for?

Public speaking, or any other skill for that matter, can be used either for good or for bad. You can gain all the wealth and all the status you want, but if you use your skill for anything other than for good, then what value does your skill carry?

None.

Public speaking is a skill of communication. The goal of communication is to send a message across in such a way that people on the receiving end can comprehend, understand, and internalize. It is not about wealth or status. It is about sending a message.

Question is, what message are you sending across?

Are you sending across good, positive messages that will enrich the lives of your listeners? Or, are we just filling up their minds and their hearts with rubbish?

We should use this God-given opportunity to bring out the best in people through the message that we are trying to carry across with our public speaking skill. We should stimulate minds and move hearts with our speech, which in turn will nudge the listeners to take the first step to self-actualization - the realization of our true potential as human beings.

It is the first step of infinite steps, because the journey to self-actualization is a never-ending journey.

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Speaking of valuable skills, Webucator is doing a do-good campaign to give back by offering continual self-paced free Microsoft training courses regardless of participation: http://www.webucator.com/microsoft/index.cfm.
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Aiman Azlan
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