The art of public speaking is a versatile skill used throughout a multitude of careers. However, many people fear it
more than death.
Communication is a tool used for teamwork and relationship building. Whether someone is in engineering or customer service, they will have to effectively communicate a concept or idea at some point during their career.
Dr. Cynthia Boes, associate professor of communication studies, has been teaching at California Baptist University since 2001. She said public speaking is important because of its versatility.
“There are many arenas of life in which knowledge of how to speak in public effectively can benefit us and others,” Boes said. “When we have experiences and knowledge that others are lacking, we want to be able to share that with them.”
Boes believes the fear of public speaking for most students comes from the possibility of embarrassment.
“Oftentimes people are scared of saying something that causes their audience to judge them,” Boes said. “They can also be scared that they will make mistakes and say something wrong, which makes them look stupid.”
Jordyn Madriaga, freshman liberal studies major, said in her case, speaking in front of other people causes uneasiness and worry.
“Public speaking has always been one of my biggest fears because I’m always afraid that I’m going to mess up in front of everyone or not make any sense,” Madriaga said. “The skills I gained from my oral communication class will help in my future career as a teacher where I will need to be comfortable speaking in front of students and parents.”
Although many people become nervous when presenting to an audience, Joshua Gladney, junior exercise science major, said he feels a sense of enjoyment.
“There are instances when I fear public speaking and other moments when I truly enjoy it,” Gladney said. “If I am passionate about what I am discussing, then the words flow naturally. The audience also determines whether or not I am fearful in public speaking.”
Boes takes steps to help students overcome their fear before the end of the semester.
“I try to create a positive class environment,” Boes said. “I don’t allow people to attack others for their thoughts and opinions. If students learn in a safe space and feel confident in the classroom, my hope is they will leave the classroom with more confidence to speak in
less safe spaces.”
To be a good public speaker, Boes said she believes it requires self-assurance and a relatable topic.
“A good public speaker is the person who is able to present his or her ideas clearly and with confidence in a way that directly relates to the audience,” Boes said. “They need to show confidence, even if they feel nervous inside, so that the audience trusts them. They need to directly relate to the audience so the audience will be interested in what they say.”