Speak Up: Why You Should Take a Public Speaking Class

I was interviewed for an article in Slate on the importance of taking a public speaking class. As Nicholas Duchesne (who took one of my courses) explains in the article, “a public speaking class can help you land a job or deliver a punch line.”

Here is an excerpt:

“Public speaking affects your academic, personal, and professional lives,” says Steven D. Cohen, a communications professor at the University of Baltimore who has also taught at the University of Maryland and Harvard. He is proof of the poise that training in public speaking can provide. No umsuhs, or likes dilute his message; his pacing and pauses make listeners pay attention. Cohen taught a public speaking course I took at the University of Maryland in 2011, and the lessons I learned in his class helped me far beyond the confines of his hour-long morning lectures.

I attended (almost) all of the lectures, though, because it was an interesting, ever-changing hour. On certain days we would learn how to craft messages by applying logos, ethos, and pathos, Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion. One class period was focused solely on employing the power of silence and pauses in our speaking cadence. In another, we were filmed giving a short speech, and then critiqued on our physical tics as we rewatched the video with the professor.

“People shoot out résumés and cover letters in emails into these black holes. Those that can pick up the phone and call a recruiter or impress in an interview, those are the people that get the best jobs. Public speaking is a differentiator,” Cohen says.

 

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