Useful skills: communication and public speaking

Communication is the heart of management and leading. If you reflect on what leaders of organizations do during the course of a day, it becomes obvious that communicating is one of their principal activities. Communication is much broader than just talking, of course. There are two relevant components: speaking and listening. Let's consider each in turn.

Plato and Aristotle understood the importance of what they called rhetoric, or public speaking.37 Public speaking is a special form of communication used to entertain, inform, explain, and persuade. Great orators like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr., understood its basic components, just as the ancient Greeks did. It is a necessity in a variety of occupations. Professors and teachers do it every day. Politicians running for office cannot avoid it during their campaigns. Managers do it in staff meetings.

Public speaking is a skill. As with any skill, some public speakers are more skillful than others. There is talent involved, but a great deal of practice is essential. Public speaking has three elements: a speaker, an audience, and the medium or context in which the message is delivered. The speaker has a message. The audience hears the message and is always free to accept it or ignore it. To some extent, persuasive public speaking overlaps with negotiation in the sense that it involves an exchange: one party is trying to persuade, convince, or motivate ...

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