Concordia student presenting speechPictured: Maggie Ray presenting about synchronized swimming

Oftentimes we take “soft skills” for granted, not considering the importance they play in our personal and professional lives. Strong soft skills are vital to build relationships and serve out our vocational calling.

But don’t take my word for it, just ask billionaire Warren Buffett. A recent CNBC article explains Buffett’s appreciation for the role of public speaking skills. In fact, the article quotes Buffett, “The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now—at least—is to hone your communication skills—both written and verbal.”

According to the article, Buffett was not always good at or enjoyed public speaking. It cites a 2009 video in which Buffet says he was terrible at public speaking in high school and college, even getting physically sick about it. But, he is fond of his public speaking course and recognizes the importance it played in his life.

The Department of Communication helps students develop the skills for impactful public communication. Department Chair Dr. Sarah Holtan recognizes public speaking is more than the speaking.

Concordia student presenting during classPictured: Madison Schultz presenting during class

“These skills go beyond just the ability to stand up and speak to a group. Students develop skills such as logic, ethical reasoning, persuasion, and critical evaluation. I consider confidence to be the most gratifying trait to cultivate in students. Once they have confidence, they can do anything,” she says.

Communication 105: Public Speaking, provides a foundation for the skills necessary to understand an audience, research information thoroughly, organize that information clearly, and use that information to perform a variety of speeches. The courses provide students the opportunity to deliver informative, persuasive, demonstration and commemorative speeches to their peers. Communication 205: Advanced Public Speaking, builds on these basic skills so students can deliver more complicated and longer speeches.

Department of Communication Professor Sandra Jahns is passionate about teaching these courses.

“I enjoy teaching it because every single student improves immensely and nearly all students end up enjoying the course. It’s filled with learning as students cover interesting topics, the audience critiques speeches and the small groups become close, friendships are developed, and the time seems to fly by,” she said.

Although the likelihood of becoming the next Warren Buffett is slim to none, the importance of his words connects with the Department of Communication’s mission. Students who complete our public speaking courses are well on their way to nailing that sales pitch, advocating for an important issue, or just developing confidence to speak in front of an audience.

Check out the Department of Communication to see other ways we prepare students for their future.

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