Why do so many speeches fall flat? Blame poor delivery for one. Who wants to hear a speaker trip over every line or drone on without making a point? Let’s face it: public speaking is an exercise in respecting the audience’s time and IQ, not to mention the spirit of the gathering. While passion and pageant can hold an audience early on, it is no substitute for the most important element of any speech: Strategy.
Indeed, many speeches are doomed to fail long before a speaker strolls to the lectern? Why? Maybe it was poorly structured, with ideas scattered here-and-there without any logical path or clear destination. It could’ve opened slow and soft, failing to stir the imagination or connect with the audience’s experiences or aspirations. Perhaps the main idea was mentioned once or twice, rather than acting as the backbone and subtly weaved into every point. The worst sin of all? The speech lacked the stories that people remember or the gut punch that moved them to action.
Think you possess the moxie to lead? Public speaking is often the bellwether. While failed speakers may be tempted to blame the audience and venue, the reality is that speakers hold the power. It is their job to rattle and rally, to entertain and enlighten. It all starts with planning, prioritizing, testing, and tuning. Those are exactly the skills that students will gain in an impressive new MOOC opening in January: Speaking to Inform: Discussing Complex Ideas with Clear Explanations and Dynamic Slides.
PROFESSOR HAS TAUGHT PUBLIC SPEAKING TO 500K STUDENTS ONLINE
Developed by Matt McGarrity, senior lecturer in the communications department at the University of Washington, the course makes one point clear: everyone will eventually need to deliver a speech, in one form or another. Question is, how do you get your audience to pay attention, retain key points, and (best case scenario) embrace your ideas? Training students to achieve those goals is a special gift for McGarrity, whose online “Introduction to Public Speaking” MOOC has already enrolled nearly 500,000 students. A past recipient of the National Speaker’s Association’s Outstanding Professor Award, McGarrity has taken a different tact to this course, focusing on speech development and leaving delivery to other courses he teaches online. As a result, students can focus on fundamentals like design, insightfulness, and clarity to achieve their goals.
The course also pairs students, so they can provide feedback to each other on what works and what doesn’t in their speeches. For McGarrity, the online milieu, at once more intimate and distant, actually can make it easier for students to learn the speaking craft by creating a less threatening environment than a live audience. “Having it online can be, on one hand, better than it ever would be in class,” he states in a 2015 interview. “Why? There are some people who are so afraid of public speaking, so apprehensive, that they will never come into my classroom. They are the ones who need an opportunity to engage the material more than anyone else. They may be more likely to do so in an online environment where they can practice at home.”
GET A JUMP ON YOUR NEW YEAR’s RESOLUTION WITH OVER 30 COURSES
If your New Year’s resolution is to deepen your skill sets, January is bound to give you a fast start to achieving that very goal. Looking to learn the in’s and out’s of finance so you can speak the language of business? You won’t find a better place to start than the University of Michigan’s Financial Markets and Institutions or Rice University’s Global Financial Markets and Instruments. Hoping to get a handle on the technologies shaping your firm? Check out the University of Virginia’s Marketing Analytics to find out how you can mine for patterns and trends that can clarify your decision-making. If operations is your passion, MIT —the leader in logistics education —is launching Supply Chain Technology and Systems to help you make sense of how new innovations can fit with your framework…and give you a competitive advantage in the process.
Were you dreaming of starting a business instead of sugar plums over the holidays? MIT is also coming out with Becoming An Entrepreneur, which delves into idea creation, market research, launch, and funding — and everything in between. If you’re hoping to take that big step into management, January is packed with options to help you avoid the big mistakes, including the University of Michigan’s Leading Teams, HEC Paris’ Leading Organizations, Stanford’s Organizational Analysis, and Northwestern’s Leadership Through Social Influence.
To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.