Monday, September 12, 2011

What is Public Speaking?

Public Speaking would seem easy to define, on the surface. My general take on this is if you are speaking and someone is going to hear it, it's public speaking.

But there are so many different shades to public speaking that I hear arguments from people all the time that sound like this "Oh, I don't do public speaking - I just ____________ (fill in 'talk to clients on the phone', 'give a report to my team', 'teach my Sunday school class') - it's not really public speaking..."

It's safe to say that Public Speaking is like an Ogre - because an Ogre, of course, is like an onion - they have layers.

These layers include, but are not limited to:

- Speaking in front of a large group
- Speaking in front of a small group
- Speaking to customers and vendors
- Speaking in a job or media interview
- Speaking in front of the water cooler
- Speaking to your children
- Speaking to your spouse
- Speaking to your friends

They also include:

- Teaching
- Training
- Preaching
- TV or Radio Announcing
- Stand Up Comedy
- Talking on the Phone
- Public Readings (bible verses, children's books, etc...)
- Webinars
- You Tube Videos
- Voiceover Work

These all require the same basic skills of speaking, in varying degrees. To say "I'm only giving a small report to my boss every week" isn't public speaking, people are selling themselves short, and often depriving themselves of a learning opportunity, by believing what they are doing isn't important enough to do better.

As a coach, I have worked with people from all walks of life, with a diverse range of goals:

- Restaurant wait staff needing better rapport with their diners
- Accountants who didn't want to be boring in front of their association
- Professionals wanting to impress at their next job interview
- Internet Marketers speaking and selling at a large, national conference
- Investment Brokers starting free seminars
- Multi-Level Marketing entrepreneurs expanding their selling skills

Last week, I worked with a company president to help him properly deliver a video voice-over to promote his company. Heck, I've even worked with an animal psychic!

No matter where you speak, who you are speaking to, or what you have to say, you are Public Speaking. When you are Public Speaking, you can always do it better. Find a coach. Join Toastmasters. Go to Dale Carnegie. Take a Community College course.

Invest in yourself. Invest in your audiences. No matter what layer of Public Speaking you are involved with, you want to Speak & Deliver. Everyone deserves it - be the best Ogre you can be!


  1. Rich:

    Excellent post.

    Two popular phrases among speakers and coaches are that “all speaking is public speaking,” or “there is no such thing as public speaking.” Both phrases are intended to reduce anxiety by pointing out that public speaking is not really that different from just having a conversation with a person or two.

    For some history, see:

  2. At political or industrial conventions and expositions and at academic conferences, the keynote address or keynote speech is delivered to set the underlying tone and summarize the core message or most important revelation of the event. Some of the more famous keynote speeches in the United States are those at the party conventions during Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns. Keynote speakers at these events have often gained nationwide fame (or notoriety); for example, Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and have occasionally influenced the course of the election.

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