In my opinion, I would say that Public Speaking is not a skill. So how do we define ‘Skill’?
If a person has a skill for singing it simply means that he is well defined or well versed in singing, be it Indian music which are Svaras or Notes in Western music.
When it comes to Skills, each and everything is prescribed and needs to be done in a certain way.
This means that when we sing, we have to sing in a certain way, only then we can say that we are singing skilfully.
Likewise, if a person is skillful in swimming, it must be that when he enters into the waters, he moves his hands in a certain way, breathes in a certain way, flaps his legs in a certain way, and floats his body in a certain way.
Whether we sing or swim in any part of the world, whether a small boy does it or an old adult does it, if we do things in a certain way, we do them skillfully.
If Skill means to do things in a certain way, then in Public Speaking what is that one thing we need to do in a certain way?
What is that certain way wherein we go on the stage and do things just like they are meant to be done, which will mean that we are doing Public Speaking skilfully?
What is that one thing? And is there really a thing like this?
On the other, if we assume that public speaking is not a skill, then what is there to learn or improve in it?
For better understanding, let us divide this term into two words: Public and Speaking. Keeping the word Public aside let us focus on the word Speaking.
So, what is Speaking? Is it a Skill?
Each individual has a different unique style of speaking. Skill means to do things in a certain way and we cannot speak in a certain standard way like that in singing or swimming. So, then is Speaking really a Skill?
But if we critically observe this word Speaking, it has 3 factors:
First, one being What is the message we want to convey by speaking, irrespective of where we are or in front of whom we are speaking be it an audience, family, or friends. For example, today by speaking I want to convey a message about Public Speaking.
But we can’t just randomly get up and say we want to speak without knowing what message to convey. This is not speaking; it is just chit-chatting. And this chit-chatting has a special place only in family gatherings or when friends meet up.
Speaking means to speak with a purpose and with a proper head and tail of conversation.
When we speak with our loved ones with a purpose in our mind only that will define the quality of our relationship.
The person in front of whom you are speaking whether he agrees or disagrees is secondary. The important thing is when we speak, we should convey a clear message to the audience.
The second factor in Speaking is Language.
Speaking means giving the listeners access to the content in our mind. These listeners could be anyone, our family members, colleagues from the office, or some other audience.
When speaking, Language helps to bridge the gap between the content in our mind and how we give access to it to the listeners.
Also, the language should be such that the other person can understand and is comfortable with it. So that the other person’s attention is glued to the message that we are conveying.
A common problem observed in India is when speaking the English language. Often at workplaces, there are people who have ideas, content in their mind that they want to speak, communicate but they fail in language which hinders their speech effectiveness.
Command over language is necessary when we want to speak or convey a message.
What is this command over language?
It means using language such that the other person understands the correct message we want to convey in a single attempt.
The third factor in speaking is Time. Now, why is this Time so important when speaking?
In the World Championship of Public Speaking, a person has only 7 minutes to speak on a certain topic. Some people speak so effectively in these 7 minutes that they can change a person’s thinking, perspectives and beliefs. These people convey the right message that is there in their minds within the stipulated time frame efficiently and effectively.
Why do you think TedX speakers are given only 18 minutes for speaking? The reason is quite simple. The trainers believe that if the right message is not delivered within 18 minutes then it won’t be delivered in 18 hours also.
Some people start speaking without a stop button. They keep on stretching the point, giving multiple unnecessary examples even when the audience has clearly understood the message.
When speaking remember to end the point that has begun. How much ever time is taken, the topic must have an end to it.
People are habitual to keep on speaking unless they are interrupted by another person. Because there is a common misconception that people don’t understand the speech unless interrupted by someone. This is not good speaking.
For speaking effectively consider the three factors – Content which is the message to be conveyed, Language that gives access to the content to the audience, and Time.
Speak with these factors in mind when speaking in family discussions, at work, with friends. Only then can we speak in front of an unknown public.
Because when speaking in front of unknown people, they expect you to be clear about the message that needs to be conveyed in a language that is easier for them to understand and also in the stipulated time.
From my learnings I would say that Public Speaking is not a skill, it is not something that can be done in a prescribed certain way like we do all other skills.
Public Speaking is no skill like but there is a Skill like Speaking.
Speaking as a skill means to give a clear message in the correct language and within the given time.
Public Speaking is not a skill rather it is a Habit.
We learn Speaking skills, we practice and use this skill repetitively in front of the public, this speaking skill then becomes a habit.
Develop Speaking skills in day-to-day life and then develop the habit of speaking in front of the Public.
So, to draw a conclusion Public Speaking is a Habit and Speaking is a Skill.