Although students generally loathe public speaking, it is a valuable skill to possess.
As a Tier I requirement at Baruch College, the COM 1010 (speech communications) class allows students to practice their skills in preparation for any field of work they venture into.
Having an expertise in public speaking has several social and mental benefits, such as an aura of self-confidence and communication skills.
“Public speaking is needed to improve skills for our future in the workforce,” said Brian Lee, a freshman currently taking a speech communications class.
“It’s good to take the COM 1010 class because it helps students speak comfortably in public and present their knowledge.”
The class, which is a graduation requirement, has its benefits. “Personally, I was never really confident in speaking publicly and after giving a few speeches, it has gotten easier,” said Lee.
Strong speakers have a vast knowledge of their topics and are able to present their information swiftly and fluently.
This ability to express ideas and views clearly is an advantage in the workplace.
It allows employees to stand out in the workplace and gives them the opportunity for promotion.
“Taking a public-speaking course is invaluable for any work in the future, whether it involves a formal speaking capacity or not,” said Dan Poston, a Baruch communication studies professor.
“In order to get what you want, you will need the confidence one day of knowing that you can stand up in front of 10 or 20 or 100 people and speak with conviction, strength, humor, and gentleness about your perspective in a way that will be coherent and persuasive to your listeners.”
Poston is currently in his second year of teaching public speaking. He has taught one year at Baruch and another year at a college in Buenos Aires.
Poston believes that public speaking is a “creative act that is underutilized” and allows people to steer away from technology.
“Public speaking creates what is human between all of our technologies,” he said.
He adds that teaching the class allows him to “encourage as many different voices as possible to articulate themselves in the best way they can.”
The communication studies classes at Baruch allow students to express their creativity while learning a vital necessity for success in the corporate world.
“Thus, if one wants to succeed in business, particularly at the executive or managerial level, skill in the art of public speaking is essential,” said Eric Gander, associate professor of public argument at Baruch.
“Critically, however, such skill goes far beyond simply the ability to pronounce words correctly and to speak what some call ‘unaccented’ English.”
Gander states that public speaking not only entails the aptitude to speak punctually in front of crowds but also the ability to generate counter-arguments.
“Skill in the art of public speaking requires that one knows how to organize his or her thoughts effectively; that one has a clear understanding of argumentation, including an understanding of how to recognize and refute fallacious arguments,” Gander said.
“That one has the ability to identify the needs and values of his or her audience and be able to ethically adapt his or her message to that audience; and that one is able to use language appropriately and in a felicitous manner.”
After taking the speech communication class, many students note a change in their own and their peers’ speaking ability.
Emily Macchia, a freshman currently taking the class, says that she has seen great progess when reciting her second speech.
“I am taking the COM 1010 class this semester and I’ve seen noticeable improvement from giving my first speech to my second speech,” Macchia said.
“The class helps and most people need to be good public speakers in their job because it is one of the most important talents to have as an adult.”
Poston adds that having such confidence in conversation will be beneficial throughout life.
“This confidence will help you in conversations and interviews even if a big speaking occasion never actually arises,” he said.
“And the truth is that in quite a lot of careers, the opportunity to give important presentations will arise.”
Poston encourages students to take their communication studies courses seriously, not just for the grade but also for life improvement.
“If you work hard in your public speaking course, you’ll be able to take an opportunity like that to impress others with your ability to fully represent your knowledge and reasoning.”
Taking note from famous Roman orator Cicero, Gander couriers to students that the ideal public speaker will know how to inform, entertain and persuade their audience on any topic.
Gander also quotes first century Roman educator Quintilian in saying that a leader with good public speaking skills is the principle person that the department of communication studies strives to mold.
“Quintilian’s vision of the ‘good person speaking well,’ is the goal we have before us in the department of communication studies as we educate men and women in the art of public speaking,” Gander said.