After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
Articulate at least three reasons why public speaking skills are important.
Describe the difference between the linear and the transactional model of communication.
List, define, and give an example of each of the components of communication.
Differentiate between the major types of speeches.
Identify the eleven core public speaking competencies.
Apply chapter concepts in final questions and activities.
Introduction to Public Speaking
Humans’ ability to communicate using formalized systems of language sets us apart from other living creatures on the Earth. Whether these language conventions make us superior to other creatures is debatable, but there is no question that overall, the most successful and most powerful people over the centuries have mastered the ability to communicate effectively. In fact, the skill of speaking is so important that it has been formally taught for thousands of years.
The ironic feature of public speaking is that while we recognize that it is an important skill to have, many of us do not like or want to give speeches. You may be reading this book because it was assigned to you in a class, or you may be reading it because you have to give a speech in your personal or professional life. If you are reading this book because you like public speaking or you have a burning desire to learn more about it, you’re in the minority.
The good news about public speaking is that although it may not be on the top of the list of our favorite activities, anyone can learn to give effective presentations. What is important is that the audience understands you and remembers what you have to say. By learning and using the techniques provided in this reading material, you will discover how to create engaging speeches and present them using your own delivery style.