How Much Are Public Speaking Skills Worth?

What is it worth to be able to present with poise and confidence? What value is there in public speaking? We’ve heard general statements like, “potential employers value it” or “it’s helpful in nearly every discipline,” but can we put actual numbers to its worth?

It turns out we can.

Our Economy Depends on Persuasion

In a research project aimed at understanding how pervasive persuasion is in many professions, professors Arjo Klamer and Diedre McCloskey (formerly known as Donald) set out to count how many people in the United States were in occupations in which persuasion accounted for over 50% of their job responsibilities.

In the first category (those who use persuasion nearly 100% of the time in their jobs), they identified 815,000 lawyers, 155,000 public-relations specialists, and 96,00 actors. In the second category (those who use persuasion about 75% of the time in their jobs), they counted 5.1 million teachers and 266,000 journalists. In the third category (those who use persuasion about 50% of the time in their jobs), they counted 923,000 police officers and 116,000 economists.

McCloskey summed up the research by saying that “talk and language are far more important to the economy” than is currently recognized. She went on to conclude that persuasion generates approximately 25% of America’s total national income.

Our Economy is Changing

But what McCloskey’s projects is just as interesting as what she proved. In the next two decades, she thinks that number will rise from 25% to 40% as we increase our dependence on machines for jobs that don’t require the intricacies and nuances of human communication. McCloskey goes on to say that there can be a $40,000-80,000 difference in salary for a coder who simply knows how to code, and a coder who know how to code and talk to clients.

So, there’s a price tag on public speaking and persuasion. And it’s a big one. We continue to trend toward a national economy in which the literal cash value of being able to effectively communicate is growing. In his book, The Expert’s Edge: Becoming the Go-To Authority People Turn to Every Time, Ken Lizotte explains that people who can communicate their ideas to others can obtain the status of being a thought leader. He says that becoming a thought leader can be personally and financially rewarding at the same time: when others look to you as a thought leader, you will be more desired and make more money as a result.

Being a thought leader is similar to having intellectual capital or organizational advantage. In one particular study, researchers found that “the roots of intellectual capital [are] deeply embedded in social relations . . . differences between firms, including differences in performance, may represent differences in their ability to create and exploit social capital.”

Taking part in programs to develop your communication and public speaking skills is one of the best investments you can make. There’s an accumulating body of research proving the tangible value of these types of skills sets. When you get better at public speaking, you don’t just increase your personal confidence, you increase your potential to be a thought leader, you increase your intellectual capital, you increase your salary potential, and you increase your organizational advantage.

Ready to brush up on the social skills that are driving and changing our economy? Register now for our all-new, online course.

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