After spending four years as a student of communication, or as a student of public speaking, if you ask this question to me now that Praveen, is public speaking a skill? I would say no. It’s not a skill.
The very word skills when we say we are learning one skill, and I want to do this skillfully the very word skill. If you take any other example of skill, for example, take singing. When we say singing skill, each and everything is well defined in singing, isn’t it? Whether you take Indian music, we have swaras. If you take Western music, we have notes, each and everything is prescribed. So when I sing, I have to sing in a certain way. When I sing in a certain way, it means I am singing skillfully.
Take any other example, before we come back to public speaking, take swimming skill, I enter inside the water, and I move my hands in a certain way, I breathe in a certain way, I flap my legs in a certain way, I float my body in a certain way, whether you are swimming in India, or swimming in London, doesn’t matter. Small boy or some old man doesn’t matter. Swimming is swimming, we have to do it in a certain way. Singing, a small boy or someone very old doesn’t matter. Singing is singing. So the very word skill means we have to do it in a certain way.
How To Improve Speaking?
In public speaking, what we have to do in a certain way that we have to go on the stage and we have to do like that only when I’m doing this. It means I’m doing this public speaking skillfully. What is that? Is there anything? For a moment, if you think that public speaking is not a skill. Then what we learn in this? When I say I want to improve my public speaking, I want to learn public speaking. So what exactly we learn or do we really learn something here?
For that, you have to separate these two words, public and speaking, keep public aside, and let’s focus only on speaking. What do you mean by speaking and is speaking a skill? If you keep the definition the same, that it has to be done in a certain way, then everyone has their own unique style of speaking. So because of this, we all can’t speak in the same way, in the same manner, the way we sing or the way we dance or the way we swim. We can’t do that. So everyone is speaking differently.
But if you critically observe this word speaking, it has three factors. Factor number one, what is the message I want to convey? Doesn’t matter whether you’re speaking on the stage or speaking in front of your loved ones speaking in front of your family members, doesn’t matter. What I want to convey for example today, I want to convey that public speaking is not a skill. That’s the message I want to give what I want to convey.
Three Factors To Improve Your Speaking
You’re sitting with your friends sitting with your family, and you say, Praveen, I want to speak but even before I start speaking, I don’t know what I want to convey that is not called speaking, there’s chit-chatting. It has its own place. It has its own place in conversation and relationship in families that were just chit-chatting and you’re talking about this and then there’s no tail, no head, whatever you’re speaking the chit-chatting. It has its own place.
We are not there today. We are talking about speaking. We speak with the purpose. Unless and until you don’t learn how to speak with the purpose of your loved ones with your close family members. Because the way you speak, that only defines your relationship or the quality of your relationships. So the first factor is whenever I’m speaking, am I clear with what I want to convey whether the other person will agree or disagree like it, not like it that is all secondary. Whether you will agree or disagree today with public speaking is a skill or not a skill that is secondary. Am I clear what I want to convey? That is primary that is something which we have to first thing am I clear what I want to convey. So yes, I’m clear today that I want to convey to you that I think after spending four years as a student of communication, I think that public speaking is not a skill, because we cannot do it in a very prescribed way, the same way like we do other skills.
So first, what you want to convey second is language. Speaking means giving access to other people to your content, whatever content you have in your mind, you’re actually giving access to other members, listeners. Now, these listeners could be your family members or listeners could be your bosses or seniors or juniors or 10,000 people or doesn’t matter who they are, but you are giving access to what you think about that topic. And the only way to bridge this link and make this accessible, there is no other way is a language, you have to use the language, which the other person can understand.
Number one, at the same time, you have to use the language in such a way that other person is comfortable with that language, it should not happen that other person’s attention is more on language than what you want to convey, which happens in India many times, especially when we are so obsessed with this language called English. Many people say at the workplace, they have content they want to speak but because their language is not good, they are not able to speak effectively.
So you have to have command on language doesn’t matter English, whichever language you use, whichever language when I say command, it means you’re using that language, without even thinking twice in your mind that okay, this is a language this is the content, let me use this language, the other person can understand the language. And let me give access to my content to him or her with the help of this particular language. The second factor in speaking.
The third factor in speaking is time. What do you mean by that? You might have observed there are some people who start and they don’t end only. And then you feel they are why are you stretching this point I’ve understood why you are giving me so many examples I’ve understood.
Now, it all depends upon what you want to convey. When we participate in the World Champion of public speaking, we get only seven minutes to convey a point. And if you listen to a few speeches, seven minutes, they can blow your mind, they can change your beliefs within seven minutes. So they are very effectively conveying what they want to convey in seven minutes, or sometimes even five minutes.
I remember when I was practicing for one TEDx talk, and I asked the TEDx organizer, do you know why this TEDx organizer insists on only 18 minutes of talk? Why not 30 minutes or 35 minutes. And that lady she looked towards me and she said Praveen if one can’t deliver a message in 18 minutes, you can’t deliver in 18 hours also. So, time whenever we speak, we should be very clear that you have to end that point. Whether you want to end in five minutes, seven minutes, eight minutes, 10 minutes you decide, but you have to end at that point.
So many times people do not stop speaking unless and until the other person is not interrupting that person. We think that unless and until the other person is not interrupting it means that till that point, the other person has not understood or not maybe only after interruption I will stop, no doesn’t have to be like that. That’s not good speaking. So, the third factor in speaking is time.
So we have content, the message which you want to convey, we have language, which actually gives access to the listener of your content at the same time, we have time.
Usage In Day To Day Life
Now tell me unless and until you don’t do this in your real life, in your day to day life, at your workplace, in your family discussion, unless and until you’re not speaking like this in your daily routine, which is speaking, how can you do that in front of the public?
Because when you are in front of the public, they also expect the same thing. First, they expect you to be clear about what you want to convey. Second, they expect you to make sure you’re using the language that was easy for us to understand. Third, they say to do it within the time we are busy.
But unless and until you’re not practicing this speaking in front of your loved ones in a one-to-one discussion, how can you do that in front of the public? So there is no skill like public speaking, there is a skill like speaking. When I say skill, I’m talking about it in a very clean, clear way give the message in the correct language at the same time, in the given time, that’s a skill should learn that.
But public speaking is not a skill, rather, public speaking is a habit. You learn speaking skills, and you go again and again in front of the public and then you speak. One can say that public speaking is a habit, I am going again and again and speaking. But if you don’t know how to speak in your day-to-day life, you cannot speak in front of the public. Develop the skill in your day-to-day life and develop the habit of speaking in front of the public. These are two different things. So to be very precise answer to this question that is public speaking a skill. No, not at all. It’s a habit. Speaking is a skill.
This is Praveen Wadalkar signing out until we meet again.