Your personal human capital is an essential part of evaluating your overall worth. Human capital has a number of definitions, but in this case, it refers to a measurement of who you are, particularly in relation to how you might be seen as valuable to an employer or a client. This isn’t the only way to define a person, but since it ties directly into your future earnings and your potential net worth, it is related to finance and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s as important, or even more important, than your net worth measurement.
Consider two job applicants with identical technical skills and education, both pertaining to the job description, and a similar personality that could result in either choice being a good fit for the company. One of the applicants has indicated that he has often been called upon to present information about hie field to the public. Having presentation skills can make a prospective employee more attractive to the employer. The ability to eloquently, entertainingly, and comfortably lead a discussion or present information in front of an audience can open opportunities.
Anyone can throw together a Powerpoint presentation together, but delivering that presentation isn’t as easy as reading the bullet points. Anyone can write a speech, but elocution is a skill that requires careful honing.
Most people in “business” head directly to Toastmasters. Toastmasters uses a standardized curriculum and a safe practice environment that allows people to receive the education and experience they need to take their presenting skills to the next level. My former company, at the satellite location where I worked, had an internal Toastmasters group. We met once every two weeks to critique each other’s speeches or presentations and gain experience speaking extemporaneously about random topics assigned in the moment.
Outside of Toastmasters, you can gain experience speaking and presenting by organizing an event in your community. Libraries offer these opportunities as do community centers and religious organizations. If your field of interest holds conferences, try to get on the schedule of speakers.
Public speaking is acting and performing
Stage fright is a common barrier to increasing public speaking experience. There are two keys to overcoming stage fright or performance anxiety: being overly prepared and breathing properly. Even though the solution is simple, it isn’t always easy. Even veteran actors deal with stage fright, so it isn’t something that is easily cured even it can be managed. Acting experience can be beneficial for public speaking, as many of the skills are similar. In addition to acting, any kind of performance experience — music, dance, etc. — can have positive effects on confidence and the ability to successfully deliver a speech.
Acting also helps develop a performer’s presence. If you’re speaking publicly, you’ll need to have a presence that’s informative and trusted. The best speakers are sometimes described as “larger than life.” You know when they walk into a room that whatever they have to say will be worth hearing.
Actors develop emotional communication skills. Without saying a word, an actor can convey an emotion. The audience will be able to understand what the actor is thinking or feeling. Skilled actors can transmit those emotions to the audience, so the spectators can sympathetically feel what the actor is feeling. This is an invaluable skill for speakers. It could mean the difference between a good presentation and a speech that has the audience on the edge of their seats.
How do you suggest gaining public speaking experience?
Published or updated October 25, 2011.