Speaking up for effective communication

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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With the stateside elections now just around the corner, media coverage of the presidential race – on both sides of the Atlantic – has begun to reach fever pitch. As many of you will know, the third in the candidates’ trilogy of head-to-head debates was held in the small hours of Tuesday morning. Naturally enough, both sides laid claim to victory afterwards. And so they should: these debates represent the culmination of hugely complex, lengthy, and expensive campaigns where pageantry and pomp is as important as substance. While issues such as foreign policy, the domestic economy, and the healthcare system cropped up time and again during the series of discussions, the candidates have been judged as much for the quality of their performances as they have on their ideas and policies. Things such as facial expressions, body language, word choice, timing, elocution, coolness under pressure, all contribute to the public perception of how well a candidate has performed. Whatever our opinions are of the protagonists and their policies in this instance, we cannot deny that they are expert public speakers – especially when we bear in mind the intense pressure they are under every time they brace themselves to speak.

While such high-stake jousts may well mark the upper tier of public communication, the ability to speak well and project a positive image is valuable at every level of daily interaction. Whether discussing business strategies with clients, addressing employees, giving a presentation, or haggling for a bargain at a market, how we speak and conduct ourselves plays a huge part in deciding which way an outcome will go.

With that said, we should note that the benefits of learning to communicate effectively are not solely restricted to improving our performances in job interviews, or even in helping us give memorable wedding-day speeches: they can also be found in the noticeable gains in confidence and self-esteem. In fact most courses in Assertiveness Skills or Public Speaking recognise as much and place great emphasis on developing a student’s confidence and self-belief from the beginning – after all, it is a general truism that as soon as we learn to believe in what we say, others are much more likely to follow suit. This realisation seems to be the steam in many a political engine too – those in authority must also be able to speak with it.

Frank Bolger

Words from the Irish rugby captain...
Exercising your options