Black woman smiling and pointing

Public speaking is one of the most important skills for career success. A recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Universities reveals that communication skills – including public speaking skills – are among the top traits that reveal career readiness.

However, many – if not most – people have an aversion to speaking in public. And a Ripley’s Believe It or Not survey of women reveals that they are more fearful of public speaking than they are of dying, snakes, spiders, heights, and mice. In fact, the only two fears that women ranked higher than public speaking are being buried alive, and losing a family member.

But if career success is dependent on public speaking, then women must master this trait.

Andy Magnum, a speech communications faculty member at Brookhaven College in Carrollton/Farmers Branch, TX, agrees that public speaking is one of the greatest fears in most people. But he also says that it is one of the most prized skills for employers. “Those who can conquer this fear and develop this skill will raise themselves above their competition significantly,” Magnum tells HER Magazine.

And he believes that public speaking is a way of thinking. “It requires people to take the perspective of someone else and to imagine how their words can convey meaning and persuade an audience.”

These audiences come in a variety of forms. They may be small or large, and can be colleagues, customers or clients, subordinates or managers. Courtney Brazile, a professor of Speech Communications at Eastfield College in Mesquite, TX, tells HER Magazine that learning how to speak publicly allows women to coherently organize their thoughts and helps them to successfully do the following:

  • Excel on the job
  • Have competent interviewing skills
  • Possess self-confidence
  • Motivate and persuade
  • Share their life stories to help others
  • Communicate to inspire
  • Use effective listening skills
  • Excel at thinking critically

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