The Importance of Public Speaking

July 24, 2021

What is your greatest phobia? For some, it's a fear of dogs or spiders, but many of us are terrified of public speaking. The concern about being judged or ridiculed is constant. Recognizing its importance, I have enrolled in a course to hone my public speaking skills. This is a vital skill to master as it impacts us on three levels: personal, professional, and societal.

2021 07 24

My fear of public speaking came into sharp focus when I saw a girl cry before she could even speak on a topic. This dedicated student, who aspires to be a diplomatic translator, was paralyzed by her fear. She is intelligent and fully capable of speaking, yet she found herself unable to do so.

Moved by empathy, I felt her fear but couldn't do anything to help. Her mother, initially proud and filming her daughter's attempted speech, eventually lost patience. The girl's eyes moistened and tears began to flow. The longer she waited, the more pressure she felt. How can we overcome such debilitating fear? Allow me to share my experience.

Personal Level:
Public speaking can elevate your personal brand and visibility. Although I am an introvert, I understand the power of speaking up in class or meetings. The hesitation to ask questions, especially prevalent in Asian classrooms, isn't because students lack curiosity; it's the fear of appearing foolish. As the saying goes, "You may look foolish for five minutes for asking a question, but you'll be a fool forever if you don't." Taking the initiative to speak up builds confidence and leaves a positive impression on others, providing an advantage in both school and life.

Professional Level:
In my role as an Engineering Manager, communication is my primary responsibility, not coding. A manager needs to effectively communicate with the team, inspire them, write reports, update senior executives, and impress clients. Recently, I successfully presented my company's product to the CEO of a digital bank and an audience of seventy people. Mastering public speaking is essential for my professional growth.

Societal Level:
Public speaking can be a powerful tool for enacting change. Whether you're part of the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, or any other organization, you need to convey a clear message and shared vision. Take climate change advocates like Bill Gates, Greta Thunberg, or even Leonardo DiCaprio; their effective communication has helped mobilize public opinion. Speaking compellingly allows you to share crucial messages and effect change on a societal level.

In conclusion, while I may not be the world's best public speaker, I am passionate about it. Though I couldn't encourage the crying girl in that moment, I hope she continues to strive for improvement. Mastering public speaking offers opportunities on personal, professional, and societal levels. Don't wait for the right moment; create it by honing your ability to speak in front of groups.

Profile picture

Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn