Tips for Success

Improving Your Public Speaking Skills – How and Why

Public speaking is a fundamental skill that can apply to nearly every job or post-college position, not just to roles in business in which presentations are common.

Public speaking is a fundamental skill that can apply to nearly every job or post-college position, not just to roles in business in which presentations are common. The McIntire School of Commerce, in fact, offers two classes that focus on improving students’ verbal communication skills:

  • Advanced Business Speaking (COMM 4641) with Professor Pentz
  • Public Speaking & Persuasion (COMM 4643) with Professor Patterson

A majority of job descriptions will list a series of required or preferred skills for prospective candidates. Rarely will you come across a job description that does not include “strong written and verbal communication skills” as one of the first skills required on the list. Whether it’s explaining to a boss the work you completed the past week or presenting to your team the goals of the day at the morning meeting, verbal communication is prevalent throughout an office.

I am currently enrolled in the Advanced Business Speaking class here at McIntire. The class has succeeded my high expectations – each of my classmates has already shown distinct improvements in speaking ability and confidence. Every week, each student prepares and presents a speech to the class. Writing and presenting to a group on a weekly basis give the students consistent and invaluable verbal communication practice. The speeches vary in type and length – motivational speeches, personal elevator pitches, Shakespearean monologues, and informative briefings are just some of the many works presented. Professor Pentz, who has taught the Advanced Business Speaking class for many years, explains what students are asked to do with the different speaking assignments:

“They explore the power of authority, whimsy, performance, emotion, persuasive data, and well-timed silence to create connection as they speak to engage with, rather than talk at, an audience,” said Professor Pentz.

The class is only 20 students in size, allowing many opportunities for students to peer-edit one another’s work. Professor Pentz commented on the benefits of this collaborative culture:

“Repeated small-group and peer-to-peer coaching helps students develop confidence in their ability to tackle any speaking moment either planned or unexpected. We build trust and we cheer openly when students push to hit new levels of confident persuasion,” she said.

Sound communication skills can have a great impact on one’s career. I am grateful that multiple public speaking classes are offered at McIntire. Oftentimes, you’ll hear business experts say that a presentation’s delivery is just as important as the presentation’s content. It’s great that McIntire students can learn and practice basic communication skills just as they learn the basics of accounting, marketing, and finance.

Get important admissions news and updates delivered straight to your inbox.