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Should Every College Student Take a Course in Public Speaking?

Addressing large audiences – be they delegates at a round table, or a stadium crowd – is a skill that can be taught. Whether the skill of oratory should be a core component for every degree is another matter. Potential benefits to the student should be weighed against the challenges posed to the institution hosting the course.

For the students preparing and delivering an address represents a major skill set. Composing a speech or presentation would require them to assemble notes, references, and statistics relevant to a given topic. Putting these together as a coherent whole would develop their ability to coordinate elements, in a logical and comprehensible manner.

A clear, concise script, the one that conveys relevant information with minimal jargon and no grammatical errors is essential for making a good speech. Effective oratory requires rehearsal. This process would develop a student’s capacity to project confidence and competence in voice, posture, and movement. These qualities could also be of immense benefit in other walks of life.

It is not often that one is called upon to address a crowd. In an atmosphere where emphasis is laid on training graduates in disciplines specific to a dwindling job market, there may be a reluctance to devote time and resources, to a “non-essential” skill. If the college has a large student body, it could be difficult to schedule sufficient hours per week for each speaker. Assembling an audience for every presentation and finding suitable venues might also be problematic.

Financial constraints could come into play when budgeting for the additional facilities required for every speech. The cost of slide projectors, presentation software, or even photocopied handouts might prove difficult to justify to official auditors.

That said, the considerable benefits to the student would suggest that public speaking should be made available as a course option or module.