"The College has sought to increase public speaking resources on campus and has even created a speech tutor program, but students are still calling for more opportunities to enhance their public speaking skills.
Members of “Harvard Speaks,” a campaign launched by students Tuesday night, hope to demonstrate to administrators the importance of public speaking as a life skill and the consequent need for more public speaking opportunities on campus.
“Whether it’s [speaking] with a law professor, in consulting, or in advocacy, the skills you take away from public speaking will help you communicate your message,” said Kevin Y. Fan ’13, the founder of the campaign, which has already collected over 100 student signatures on a petition calling for more public speaking resources."
Harvard Speaks! seeks to revitalize Harvard’s hallmark - oratorical excellence. By making an investment in rhetoric, Harvard ensures that tomorrow’s leaders are well-equipped to think critically and communicate effectively.
That such a student group exists at Harvard indicates to me a realization of a basic truth about communication:
You can attend the top university in the country. You can graduate with honors, and go on to become a master in your chosen profession.
But this does not necessarily mean you know to speak well. The ability to communicate a message and connect with an audience is a learned skill - and something which everyone can get better at - regardless of your knowledge of your particular field.
And this is a perfect skill to begin to learn in high school and college - before you build your career and your ability to speak in public is already assumed.