Public speaking can be a form of self-improvement — sometimes dramatic self-improvement. Speaking in front of others while in prison, for instance, a convicted arsonist, Richard Pierce, broke the silence he had imposed on himself years earlier in a New Hampshire prison. He’ll be ready to speak to the parole board that is to consider his case in 2016, and he will be better prepared to get and keep a job in the community once he’s set free.
I just completed an 8-week intensive public speaking course for women in greater Washington, D.C., through Capital Speakers Club. The course has highlighted for me the many ways public speaking benefits individuals and organizations.
Empowered by Speech
Pierce’s story was one of two recently in the media about public speaking by those in the criminal justice system. “This American Life,“ from WBEZ told how Pierce’s breakthrough began with participation in a Toastmasters public speaking group in prison.
Young people in the Maryland correctional system are also offered an opportunity each year to practice public speaking, Associated Press reported last week.
The Maryland Court of Appeals was to host the championship round of a speaking competition for youth in Maryland Juvenile Services residences. These boys and girls are waiting to either appear in court or enter a rehabilitation center. They were challenged to speak about C.W. Longnecker’s poem, “The Victor.” Its theme: Attitude is everything.
An official associated with the contest said the program lets youngsters interact with the courts in a positive way and have their voices heard at the highest level.
It actually does much more. It invites them to consider new ideas. It builds confidence through acquiring new skills. It demonstrates to them that their thoughts and feelings are worth expressing. Some in the juvenile justice system may never have had an opportunity to develop themselves in this way and be rewarded for it.
Discovering Ourselves and Others
The 21 women in my speech class were well educated and many of us, myself included, had done public speaking on our jobs. Yet as we gave speeches each week, we gained new discipline in choosing what to say and how to say it most effectively in varied settings. We discovered we were listening and observing in new ways, inside and outside the classroom.
The program reflected how much our words and ideas reflect about who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe and what moves us. Through the speeches we gave, we got to know each other well.
The Voices of Businesses and Nonprofits
Public speaking skills are dynamic communication tools for businesses and nonprofits. They can help you introduce yourself and your ideas, persuade others and tell real-life stories that influence audiences to act.
Meetings, presentations, leadership changes, networking, and client service are just a few situations in which business and nonprofit professionals can benefit from polished public speaking skills. Developing these skills empowers people while strengthening your organization’s overall ability to achieve its mission.
Staff at every level get work done daily through speech. Each individual sends verbal and nonverbal messages that make impressions on others.
Do you and your coworkers have the public speaking skills you need to send the right messages?