Public Speaking is a short-term postgraduate program developed by the College of Communication and Public Relations (SNSPA) that addresses to practitioners in the field of communication, consulting, sales and/ or to the people targeting middle-management positions, and aims at giving them the opportunity to deepen public speaking skills and techniques through relevant academic training. It is the first program of this kind offered in a university setting in Romania, and aiming at training people to become proficient public speakers. The program successfully combines an applied theoretical component with a substantial formative component, providing an integrative approach anchored in communication sciences.
The program is implemented by a team of professors at the College of Communication and Public Relations with degrees and a highly relevant field experience in communication, training, public relations, leadership, coaching, human resources and psychology.
Why is this case study an example of good practice?
– it was tailored considering the results of a rigorous exploratory research (undertook by the implementation team) that aimed at: building a map/ an inventory of all the professions where public speaking is a central component; capturing the information needs that are not covered by the existing educational offer; identifying the difficulties that public speakers face as documented by prior studies.
– it is based on the academic expertise of professors with good knowledge of the relevant disciplinary field, but also with experience in the training area;
– it combines a rigorous approach anchored in communication sciences with intensive practice-related activities oriented towards the particular needs of the student.
FCRP (College of Communication and Public Relations), the program provider, supports its sustainability by providing the rooms for all the courses and activities with the necessary equipment and infrastructure (such as PCs and servers, printers, scanners, voice and video recording devices, smartboard and video conference system, flipcharts).
What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?
- Challenge: To effectively and promptly respond to local and broader regional learning needs in the public speaking sector. Most of these needs were identified by means of an exploratory research, conducted by the team implementing this program and focusing on the state of the art of the current public speaking training programs, their aims, promises and gaps.
- Why? Because while the typical practice on the existing market of public speaking courses/ trainings focuses on enhancing the needs and maintaining the target audience hooked (following the logic of the product life cycle marketing), an academic course would target instead the build-up of a capacity in the participants so as to be able to pursue the training further on their own and to continue their development autonomously.
- What did not work well?
In spite of intense online promotion, the program failed to attract as many students as initially expected;
- Main achievements:
- a certain opening up of SNSPA and particularly of the Faculty of Communication and Public Relations to meet the training needs on the labour market, by deepening and completing the range of competences that are needed in order to exercise professions in the public speaking sector;
- reducing the significant gap between the level of scientific knowledge that is relevant to public speaking (especially in the international literature) and the common, local perception on what public speaking skills and their training means;
- two series of students who have successfully graduated from this academic program that was launched in October 2017; the trainees were provided with the knowledge, techniques, demonstrations and practical experience to enable them to become proficient public speakers, boost their career choices and/ or open up avenues for promotion;
- sharing experiences and peer to peer collaboration among the participants in the program;
- a certain opening up to the NGO environment;
What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?
There is a constant struggling to accommodate the timetable of the courses within this program with the trainees’ schedule which is quite dense and intense. Most of the people attending the program are usually busy individuals who have little amounts of time at their disposal during the week’s working days. Therefore, this postgraduate program offers weekend sessions in order to facilitate the access for any potential interested candidates.
Also, one of the most important barriers encountered from the beginning was the limited ability to directly promote this program among corporate professionals working in various sectors, social activists, volunteers, NGO members, etc. The team behind this program is currently trying to identify relevant opportunities for a good promotion of the program among individuals working in multicultural settings, NGOs, public organizations, private companies etc.
Feasibility & Sustainability
What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?
FCRP (Faculty of Communication and Public Relations), the program provider, supports its sustainability by providing the rooms for all the courses and activities with the necessary equipment and infrastructure (such as PCs and servers, printers, scanners, voice and video recording devices, smartboard and video conference system, flipcharts, etc.).
What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?
An earlier or bigger impact would have been facilitated by an increased capacity of direct promotion of the program in organizations such as multinational companies.
Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)
Public speaking is, for many professions in the area of communication, but not limited to it, a constitutive practice - the very essence of the profession. A competitive performance in these areas (be it about products and services presentations, leading teams, motivating employees, or representing an organization in various public occasions) involves one being a good speaker.
Although in Romania there is a significant market for training people in public speaking, the focus therein lays in building soft skills and motivation. Most trainers lack a systematic approach and a minimal theoretical background which are usually shielded by the promoting discourse advocating the omnipresent imperative of the practical promise. Hence, an in-depth postgraduate course in public speaking designed and delivered in a university setting could offer a welcome alternative to this training market, by combining a rigorous approach, grounded in the sciences of communication, with intensive practice, tailored on the special needs of the participants.
Thus, through its design, curriculum, mission and strategy, this program responds to local and broader regional learning needs in the public speaking domain. According to many studies in the field, people’s fear of public speaking is at the top of their lists. Yet, the jobs that involve the activity of speaking in front of different people and mostly unknown groups have become more and more common. Therefore, a course that focuses on both techniques (structure of speech, body language, choice of words, vocal variety, etc.) and practice in order to increase people's confidence and improve their speaking style/ performance becomes highly relevant.