Public speaking is a highly sought after skill -- in fact, if you want to be an executive with your company, an author, a salesperson, a trainer or any other public-facing professional, you're probably going to need to get comfortable with public speaking.
And yet public speaking anxiety is still the top phobia, affecting more people than fears of spiders, heights, darkness and even death.
That's right, death.
If you're one of those people who would rather curl up in a ball and simply die than speak in front of a crowd, you definitely need to check out these 9 places you can learn public speaking skills absolutely free:
Video-based learning platform Udemy has a great public speaking course offered free of charge by Professor Chris Haroun, business school professor, venture capitalist and author. In his course 'Give Amazing Presentations and Enjoy Public Speaking," Haroun analyzes great speeches by people like Steve Jobs, Meryl Streep and Ronald Reagan in short videos, allowing participants to see the power of great speaking skills in action.
Instructor Dr. Matt McGarrity from U of W's Department of Communications guides learners through a 10-week course designed to help participants verbally communicate their thoughts in a more articulate way. From designing impromptu speeches, to mastering the speech preparation process, to delivering informative and persuasive speeches in the most effective manner, Dr. McGarrity's course is a deep dive into public speaking skills for professionals of all kinds.
The author of Pearson's bestselling 'How to Be Brilliant at Public Speaking' offers a free six-week online course, delivered to participants' email inboxes. Each week's lessons focus on one quality shared by the world's best public speakers, with advice and instruction on how to develop that quality in yourself. Lloyd-Hughes emphasized brevity, with just a short written lesson and video for each component. If you're pressed for time but want advice with maximum impact, this is a good choice.
Before writing 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' Dale Carnegie co-authored 'The Art of Public Speaking' with Joseph B. Esenwein. Their advice is still relevant a century later! Volunteer narrators at Librivox recorded the book onto over 19 hours of audio describing how to use your voice and hand gestures to emphasize your points, how to convey confidence in large groups, how to persuade people and more. You can download each chapter as a separate MP3 file from LearnOutLoud.com.
Professor Deborah Bridges from the University of Houston shares her 12-minute 'Fundamentals of Public Speaking' lecture in a video that has been viewed more than 16,000 times. Designed as a distance education course for COM1332, the course is a series of lectures all available free of charge now on YouTube. Start with the linked video above and look to the right for the next lectures in the series.
This in-depth course is a good choice for those who want to develop better speaking skills with an understanding of the theories and principles behind effective verbal communications. The course is designed around the textbook 'Stand Up, Speak - The Practice and Ethics of Public Speaking,' which is also provided in digital format free of charge. Learners will also take cues from Stephen Lucas' 'The Art of Public Speaking.' This is one of the lengthier options for learning public speaking; the length of the course is estimated at 93 hours.
The Public Speaking Project describes itself as, "an assortment of virtual tools to help users improve their public speaking skills... (offered by) a variety of speech professionals who are dedicated to providing free and low cost instructional materials contributed their original work." Here, you'll find a free e-book textbook on public speaking, a virtual classroom with lessons on speech writing and delivery, video modules and interactive activities to help improve your public speaking skills. Sections of the website are still under construction, but the content they do have now is worth checking out.
Toastmasters is a massive public speaking group, with over 332,000 members worldwide. While it's great to get together in person and learn in that way, it's not always possible. If you can't join one of the 15,400 clubs spanning 135 countries, you might still find their informative articles helpful. The free resources on their website cover a variety of public speaking topics and scenarios, from preparing a speech, to presenting awards, to giving sales pitches and more.
Dr. Jim Anderson generously shares his experience and knowledge from spending the last 25 years coaching and training public speakers in regular posts on his blog, 'The Accidental Communicator.' His advice often centers around the concept that great knowledge can be unlocked from within companies through the improvement of communication and speaking skills. Dr. Anderson blogs often and has a massive collection of public speaking advice already published for your perusal.
The 'Six Minutes' website houses a wealth of free information and insight into speech writing, delivery techniques, effective PowerPoints and speaking habits, both good and bad. In addition to site creator Andrew Dlugan, dozens of professional speakers, speaking coaches and university professors share guest articles on various aspects of public speaking. The site is also structured logically, making it easy to find advice on the specific areas of speaking in which you need help.
'Talk the Talk: How to Give a Great Presentation' is a free, 6-week online course that uses resources including TED Talks videos to demonstrate the art of effective public speaking. It's more interactive than a lot of the other online resources featured here, since you're expected to participate in discussions with other learners. If you find online courses a bit lonely and like learning by engaging in conversation, this course is a great choice.
And of course, once you have your public speaking skills up to par, you'll want to focus on the most valuable, in-demand skill of all: programming! There are a ton of free places to learn a programming language online, too.