The Value Of Speaking

“You cannot not communicate.” Some of us communicators live by the former statement. Whenever we engage in interpersonal communication endeavors, even when we don’t verbally exchange messages, we are still communicating even if is only through body language. When I give a public speech, my hands and body move in coordinated ways that are both predictable and understandable by most Americans. I am constantly engaging in communication. In fact, we are all communicating constantly.

Thousands of years of human evolution have helped man to be better communicators through necessity. By communicating well, rewards are given and achieved. If a speaker fails to communicate eloquently, he will inevitably be judged and possibly punished for his own speaking pitfalls. It pays off to communicate well, that’s for sure. We often see evidence of the former by critically investigating those individuals who hold a position of leadership. Anyone who is given the privilege to lead others must communicate effectively in order to both establish rapport and earn credibility. Being a great communicator is a requirement if one is to lead people; it comes with the territory if that makes sense.

I am not seeing evidence that the youth has bought the idea that they must be able to communicate interpersonally. What I often see is this obsession with smartphones and the need to text and engage in mediated environments. There is nothing necessarily wrong with communication via text messaging if used in moderation. The problem is that all these “fake” communication maybe causing more problems than good. Are our smartphones destroying a generation of fine speakers? In the end I think they are.

In order to be a great speaker, you need to do what great people do — practice! In order to speak well people need to write well, I would argue. A cable TV giant has made a prediction that America is going to become a nation of adults who have the writing skills of an 8 year old because of technology. I wonder how our children are going to end up speaking in the future because of the smartphone. My prediction is that the levels of communication apprehension among adults will increase exponentially overtime because pupils aren’t practicing enough public speaking in order to reach competency. How good is all this technology if our sons and daughters lose the ability to eloquently give an eulogy? Cleveland has a lot to lose by having its  youth handicapped by technology. When we fail to communicate interpersonally, we lose an opportunity to influence others. If you can’t influence, you will be influenced. Doesn’t that go against your own model of leadership?       

Mastering the art of communication is an ideal that should be achieved by us all. When I was in college, everybody was obligated to take a class in public speaking. I am glad I had to take one. This speech class, along with the two other acting courses I took in the theatre department, have served as a foundation for studying and developing my own style of communication which I literally use now five days a week, multiple times a day.  As a person who make his living speaking to others on a college campus, I cannot afford to lose this public speaking skillset unless my goal would be to teach courses for an on-line educational institution. I have no desire to join such organizations.

I have taught in a number of universities where public speaking wasn’t a requirement for graduation. However, classes in micro computing are often mandatory for students to take. I don’t have anything against students taking courses in technology but failing to recognize that a course in speech might have unintended consequences to a student’s life concerns me. When we train our kids to speak better, without technology distractions, they inevitably become better speakers. Students versed in public speaking have a higher chance of becoming unit heads which can work out to be a financially rewarding career. Be one of them! Put that smartphone away and get a class in public speaking! You won’t regret.