I’ve conducted media and presentation training in scores of countries around the world and I am always stuck by how people believe that citizens of their own country are uniquely bad at public speaking. People uniformly believe that their fellow citizens are all awful and that it is somehow genetic. If only our people could speak more like the citizens of (fill in the blank country). Often, that blank is America. Sadly, I have to tell my clients that most people in America are also horrible public speakers. And in America, people believe that most Americans are terrible public speakers and if only we could speak more like the British. And so it goes.
In my experience, most people everywhere are horrible public speakers because very few people have ever been given sound instruction on how to present well. That’s good news for anyone who aspires to be a good speaker. Because all of your competition, domestically and internally, is horrible, it doesn’t take much to stand out as very good.
Before writing instruction was widespread though public education, most people everywhere were horrible writers. This is stating the obvious. But less obvious to most people is that public speaking is every bit a teachable skill as writing. Those who are taught can do, those who are not taught can’t.
I hope that one day no one will be able to graduate from high school or even elementary school without demonstrating proficiency at public speaking. It’s the only fair thing to do given the necessity of spoken communication skills in the job market. But until then, I am benefiting from this gap in the education market–this is how and why I am able to sustain an executive presentation skills training business. So I guess I should be thanking the masters of public school curriculum for their decisions.