Importance of Public Speaking

I once had the pleasure of listing to my son, a budding physicist discussing theories with Murray Gelman, the Nobel Physics Prize winner.  They had been discussing science when Murray met my daughter, He asked if she liked science as well.  Patrick pops up with “she wastes her time with languages”.  I will always remember Murray’s reply, “Patrick, if you can’t communicate, you science is totally useless.  Language is one of the most important parts of science”.  Few people realize that this eminent scientist’s first degree was in linguistics!  I believe Murray was, and still is, a great physicist because he can communicate.

Communication, it is the key to science and society, and yet many scientists have trouble communicating!  They take seminar courses and scientific writing courses.  They have to give papers to one another, but most are never considered great scientists.  Why?  Because they cannot communicate or be understood by the common man.  They need to give up some of those scientific presentation courses and take a course in public speaking instead!

There are a lot of idiots in this world that succeed for the simple reason that they can present themselves well and talk to people.  They give speeches at luncheons and raise millions of dollars for themselves and others.  They influence lives all around the world.  Scientists?  No, politicians!  Yet scientists that can help clean up our atmosphere, find new energy sources and put men into outer often have to fight for funds and approval.  What is the difference?  A course in public speaking!

Public speaking teaches you how to present yourself, read an audience and motivate people, this are all things that a science major needs to learn.  The science communications are more about logic and precedence and are given before an educated audience, but not all audiences are educated in the sciences, but they can still affect how science is funded.  No money and science will languish.

Also, if you are a successful person at science, you will sooner or later have to give speechs at functions and to the public, and that is very different from a review by your peers!  You will need to know how to add humor or make things simple and to stir feelings.  All science majors need to learn how to make public speeches, and to do that they need a public speaking course!