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Is Public Speaking a Soft Skill?

We live in a world rife with misconceptions and misunderstandings. More often than not, these arise from myths, lack of exposure to facts or general lack of knowledge. Public speaking & leadership are no exception to this rule. In my more than 20+ years in this field, I’ve hear over and over again the assumption that public speaking is a ‘soft skill.’ This implies it is a less important than other technical skills, but nothing is further from the truth. Fact is, public speaking skills are fundamental communication skills which are some of the most important skills you’ll every use or develop. Let’s explore why:

Soft Skill?

A ‘soft-skill’ according to Wikipedia is: a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.

Crucial Skill

Many erroneously assume hard-skills or technical skills are more important than soft skills. This assumption is rampant in the business world today – even though the opposite is true. For example, studies by Stanford Research Institute and Carnegie Mellon showed that among Fortune 500 CEOs established that 75% of long term job success resulted from soft skills and only 25% from technical skills (Sinha, 2008). Fact is, soft skills are as important as cognitive/technical skills (John, 2009; Zehr, 1998)

As a consultant for several decades, I’ve worked with 1000’s of clients in nearly every industry. I’ve never seen a job description which didn’t include and require communication, social and emotional intelligence skills. I often ask my clients if the last job they applied to detailed the need for communication skills, interpersonal skills or public speaking – the answer is always a resounding ‘yes.’ These are as critical to success in business or personal endeavors, as much as any other technical skill. In many roles they are more important than technical skills.

Crucial Communication Skill

Communication skills are vital in work and life. They are not ‘soft skills’ but critical assets to the successful speaker or leader. It is time we recognize and appreciate the primacy of these skills and train them with the same vigor we do technical skills. Great speakers and leaders are not born or endowed with these skills at birth, but rather learn them. With that in mind, what will you do to acquire these skills to navigate your next career move? Our expert team can help to get you there with public speaking and leadership training.

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2 thoughts on “Is Public Speaking a Soft Skill?”

  1. I agree that the importance of public speaking and even emotional intelligence are often discarded by the schools and the general public when these skills are as important as the other hard skills being taught at school.

    It is about time we change the way we look at holistic education and incorporate necessary communication skills to enable human interaction to become better

  2. I always considered public speaking to be a trait of only confident people but it turns out, most people don’t excel at it and no one really enjoys it! This is one of those skills you have to master over time and while some people are better at it than others, I think this is just because they have had more experience with it. If you never spoke to a room full of people and are thrown on a stage, you are not likely going to be great at it.

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