I am reading ‘I am Malala – The Girl who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban’ by Malala Yousaefzai. What an amazing story of courage, conviction and clarity of purpose. And she is only 17! If you haven’t read it yet then check it out and watch Malala speak on this YouTube clip.
I am about half way through the book and one thing that made me smile was the accepted belief of both Malala and her father it was important to themselves, their family and most of all their community that they could speak in public and to groups. Both Malala and her father entered public speaking competitions at school even though they were both scared to death. There is a lovely passage in the book describing her feelings and experiences the first time she stands up to speak and how she forgets her father’s advice to take a deep breathe and all the words on her page start to swim in front of her. Lots of readers will, I know, sympathise!
How important is it to you to be able to articulate your thoughts, feelings, passions, beliefs to other people? I think the answer to this question changes throughout our lives and during our careers. And I also believe that if we want to be successful in business and/or we want to increase the impact of what we do in our communities and businesses, then at some point we will find ourselves faced with speaking in public. It could be a Parish Council meeting, a team brief, a local art group committee, a pitch for investment, a board proposal, a parent governors meeting – eventually we will get an opportunity ( should we wish to take it) to stand up and speak out.
As I read somewhere else this week on a Facebook posting – public speaking is an essential skill, not a ‘nice to have’. What I would add to that (and I would wouldn’t I?) is that speaking WELL in public is an essential skill. Lots of people can stand up and deliver boring and predictable and instantly forgettable presentations. People who want to influence, who want to see changes ( like Malala) know that they need to speak well. With passion. With conviction. And persuasively.
I’m off now to grab another couple of chapters….let me know if you have read the book and what you thought. And have your views on how necessary speaking skills are changed over the years. I would love to hear from you.