The Best Online Public Speaking Courses for Work
Public speaking is something many people prefer to avoid, envying those with a seemingly natural gift for communicating on a large scale.
If that sounds like you, there is no need to worry; there is good news. With some constructive direction, you can learn the fundamental skills needed to become a more confident, more effective public speaker.
It is fair to say that most people experience some level of anxiety when it comes to speaking in public. In fact, there is even a name for it. It is called glossophobia, and it is estimated that around 75% of the population is affected by it.
The difficulty is that, in a professional setting, public speaking is often par for the course. Whether it is making an internal presentation, pitching to a client or simply speaking up in a team meeting, at some point in your career, everyone has to overcome social fears and speak up in front of a group.
Thankfully, public speaking is more of a key skill than an innate talent – you can develop it from scratch.
A public speaking course can help you master techniques like body language, voice projection and enunciation. Such a course can help build your confidence in preparing materials and speech structure and provide you with handy tips to calm your nerves.
It is not just those lacking in confidence that can benefit from a public speaking course. They can help everyone develop more effective communication skills for the workplace, making it easier to get positively noticed, a key step towards promotion.
It may seem counterintuitive to take an online public speaking course when it is an activity traditionally done in person. However, there are multiple benefits to the remote learning approach.
First, consider that the shift towards working remotely means a lot of public speaking now takes place via video conferencing tools. Many online public speaking courses for work take this into account, using their web-based nature to teach tips and tricks for digital communication.
Second, effective public speaking in large part comes down to preparation and mental attitude. It is not so much the event itself, but what takes place before it – and the mindset of the speaker – that counts most.
The skills you need here can be taught just as well online as in-person. In fact, the online approach helps to eliminate many of the anxieties you are trying to overcome in the first place. Instead of practicing your techniques in front of others in the classroom, you can master them in private first.
Of course, online courses can be more convenient too. They are often more affordable and, since most are self-paced, they offer the flexibility to work around your schedule.
Those looking to improve their public speaking skills are well catered for in the online learning space, but with so many courses to choose from it can be hard to narrow down your options.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision:
- What are the entry requirements? – Most online public speaking courses do not require any prior experience but you may want to consider the content of the course and if it matches your skillset.
- How much does it cost? – There are plenty of free public speaking courses but remember you get what you pay for (or not, in this case). Free courses are a great place to start out but, if you want expert tuition and feedback, you will likely need to invest in a paid program. Consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend for personalized guidance.
- Does it include a certificate? – Taking a public speaking course is a form of personal development for your career and gaining a certificate you can share on your professional profiles can be an added boost.
- Is it self-paced? – Most people will take a public speaking course around other commitments so it is useful to have on-demand content that can be accessed whenever suits. If there are assignments involved, look at the flexibility of the deadlines to ensure you can meet them.
- What is the time commitment? – You can spend anything from around an hour to several months completing an online public speaking course – it all depends on how in-depth you want to go and the time you can commit.
- What are the assessment methods? – What suits you here will all come down to your personal circumstances. If you are just looking for some handy pointers you might not want any kind of official assessment. However, if you are looking to build your skills to a professional level, it is better to opt for a practical course that offers feedback on your progress.
- Who teaches the course? – Here you will want a reputable tutor with experience in the field of public speaking. You will also want someone that makes the content accessible and engaging. Make a point of reading reviews from past students and pay attention to their thoughts on the standard of teaching.
The courses outlined below are all very different, so there should be an option to suit everyone’s circumstances.
Cost: Free with a Skillshare account (99/year)
A brief but highly informative introduction to public speaking, this project-led video lesson is taught by entrepreneur and experienced public speaker, Nick Armstrong, who makes the content engaging and accessible with his humorous style.
In just under an hour, you will learn the basics of pulling together a well-crafted presentation, including brainstorming ideas, sourcing supporting materials and conveying your message with concise simplicity.
Nick also offers up some tips on managing your nerves and developing a stage presence.
It comes with a project planning guide for you to work through, and you will create your own five-minute presentation, which you can then use to perfect your delivery.
It is a fun, hands-on course, but do not expect it to turn you into a pro. It is designed very much as an introduction but should give you a good idea of how to start honing your skills.
It is available for free with a Skillshare trial account, or as part of your plan if you already hold a membership.
Cost: Free to audit (no certificate) or requires Coursera Plus for a certificate ($399/year)
Going beyond a basic overview, Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization is a comprehensive program of content.
It is actually four lessons in one, which you can take individually or complete in order to earn a certification.
In lesson one, you will be introduced to some key techniques before moving on to three subsequent lessons on different forms of public speaking – informative, persuasive and inspirational.
Throughout, you will prepare and record your own speeches, submitting them for feedback from the expert tutor.
Lessons can be taken at your own leisure, but you will need to make a substantial time commitment. It takes around five months to complete the entire specialization, though this is based on three hours per week, so if you put in more time per week, you could shorten the time frame.
It is a beginner-friendly course, but the high level of detail makes it a valuable resource for more experienced speakers too.
On completion, you will have gained the skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver effective speeches to a wide range of audiences.
It is delivered through Coursera, so you will need a paid subscription to access the course in full, though you can audit the content for free.
Cost: Free to audit (time-limited access, no certificate, no graded assessments) or $144 (unlimited access, shareable certificate, graded assessments and exams)
Next up is an introductory, self-paced course that teaches key tools and techniques to prepare and deliver professional standard speeches.
You will learn how to apply critical thinking to formulate strong, evidence-based narratives, the correct use of language and how to use media aids to support your messages.
You will develop your skills by critiquing the work of others, as well as preparing your own presentations. Tips for managing anxiety are also covered.
There are two ways you can take this course – via the audit track, giving you access to materials for free, or via the verified track.
The latter is priced at $144 and permits you to take part in graded assignments, with a certificate of completion.
In both cases, lessons can be accessed on-demand, and if you commit between four and six hours a week, you can complete it in approximately three weeks.
Cost: Free to audit (no certificate) or requires Coursera Plus for a certificate ($399/year)
Professional communication has changed a lot recently, and this course is specifically designed for those looking to improve public speaking techniques for virtual platforms.
It is an ** eight-hour program** split into four lessons that you can complete as and when you choose.
You will receive an introduction to virtual communication in general before focusing on key skills like how to hold the attention of a remote audience and how to choose the right communication style for different scenarios.
The final lesson covers seven different strategies used in traditional public speaking and shows you how to apply them in a virtual context.
This course is ideal for anyone that regularly holds or participates in online meetings. It may also prove a valuable resource as preparation for virtual interviews.
Again, it is delivered through Coursera, so you can audit materials for free or sign up for a subscription to get the full course experience, including graded assignments and certificate of completion.
Cost: around 24.99–$39.99/month)
The next entry on this list of best public speaking courses comes from LinkedIn Learning, previously known as Lynda.com.
It is led by experienced speaker and presentation coach, Jeff Ansell, who delivers practical tricks of the trade to help boost your confidence in front of a crowd.
This includes core speaking techniques like pace and pausing, as well as physical aspects such as body language and eye contact. There is also a section dedicated to managing public speaking anxiety.
This course is a good option for anyone that is short on time. At just over an hour long it can be completed in one sitting and will give you actionable insights you can start practicing straight away.
There are no graded assignments or feedback offered here though, so if you are after more constructive guidance it is not the best fit.
That said, it is a great place to start and can be accessed for free with a month-long trial to LinkedIn Learning.
Cost: Free YouTube video, plus optional $12 book.
When you think of the world’s best public speakers, most of them have probably delivered a TED Talk at some stage. This YouTube resource gives you insights into some of the techniques that have brought those talks to life.
It is delivered by the Head of TED, Chris Anderson, and you have two options for digesting the content.
You can watch the 50-minute fireside chat on YouTube for free and get a general overview of Chris’ thoughts, or you can purchase the book for around $12.
This is not your typical public speaking course in that it does not follow a lesson structure. It is more of a collection of tips from some of the best public speakers around.
With that in mind, it is aimed more at the experienced public speaker looking to reach a more engaging level of delivery rather than a beginner.
Cost: 19.99/month Udemy subscription (access to all Udemy courses for the length of the subscription)
If you are looking for a comprehensive course that covers public speaking from every conceivable angle, this is probably the right choice for you.
For a one-off purchase of $99.99, you will get lifetime access to over 30 hours of on-demand video lessons and a range of downloadable resources.
There is no topic left uncovered here. Lessons look at elevator and business pitches, sales presentations, job interviews and team meetings.
You will learn how to communicate with different audiences, and explore informational, motivational and persuasive speaking.
There is also a focus on the art of storytelling and public speaking in the digital age.
The fundamentals are not neglected either, so you can start this course without any prior experience.
It does require a substantial time commitment if you want to cover every lesson, but most people will find they can skip some sections. For example, you might not be interested at this point in how to give a retirement speech.
The only thing missing is one-to-one tuition; the course is all pre-recorded content with no graded assessments.
If you are more of a theoretical learner, you may find this series of lectures delivered by Professor Deborah Bridges a good fit.
Originally designed as a distance learning course, over four hours of lectures are now available to watch in seven lectures for free on YouTube.
These cover all the fundamentals of public speaking and will walk you step-by-step through the art of persuasive communication.
There is no interactivity on this course, but since it is completely free of charge you might want to use it as a starting point before moving on to a paid course that allows you to put techniques into practice.
The ability to speak in public effectively and with confidence is of great benefit to your career growth, so it is well worth investing in some expert guidance on how to do so.
The beauty of an online course in particular is that it gives a flexible option that is workable around your own schedule.
No matter what level you consider yourself to be at, there is an online course to suit. So why not take the time to build on your skills, master the art of engaging communication, and put those public speaking fears to rest.