If all my talents and powers were to be taken from me by some unscrutable Providence, and I had my choice of keeping but one, I would unhesitatingly ask to be allowed to keep the Power of Speaking, for through it I would quickly recover all the rest.
What do the words public speaking bring to mind? Large halls and after-dinner ramblings? Executive seminars where you listen to a speaker expert in some key area of business? Politicians at election time? Presenters using complex PowerPoint slides? These answers are all correct, but big events and big names are just the tip of the public-speaking iceberg. Public speaking embraces not only the formal settings for speeches but also myriad events in any businessperson's day.
Public speaking affects every aspect of communication. It refers to your ability to get ideas across and to inform and persuade your audience. Even though most people admit to disliking it, everyone has to rely on his or her speaking abilities in meetings, on the phone, when asking for a raise, or when explaining procedures to a new employee. There are two varieties of business communication: written and spoken. And while many professionals, managers, and executives complain about the number of memos and e-mails they have to write, they communicate verbally much more often.
Yet many people persist in divorcing lectern-style public speaking from the speaking required in a one-on-one meeting with the boss. They think the former is a very formal event requiring preparation, while the latter can be done off-the-cuff. It can be done this way, but the results won't distinguish you. In the business, powerful people know how to put the power of speaking to work for them whenever they are communicating verbally. Those who don't think of themselves as public speakers within their companies, organizations, or associations probably aren't perceived as good speakers by others either, and they lose the aura that goes along with being known as an effective communicator. Or worse, they have a reputation for being dull, unsure of themselves, and weak.