Is Public Speaking a Science or an Art?

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          Many people debate whether public speaking is an artform or a science. Universities tend to house public speaking in departments of Communication, Journalism, Theater Arts, or English—often buried inside a college of Arts & Sciences. We believe public speaking is both an art and a science.

          As an art, public speaking brings aesthetic beauty, draws in and changes people using different mediums: voice, verbal/nonverbal energy. The energy of these elements creates an image beyond what you may see in the moment. It appeals to a deeper place within the receiver, the audience, and touches something inside of them to promote the message. Like an art, public speaking is studied, practiced, perfected, honed, evaluated, and examined for its reflection and impact on both the audience and the speaker.

 

          As a science, public speaking can be broken down into various parts of study. All the elements of the process of communication and what occurs within each of those can be broken down into small, learnable parts. The relevance of each element in the process can be analyzed. For example: How is the message composed? Who are the speaker and the receiver? What interference is happening and where? What feedback are you getting from the receivers?

What is its impact on you, the speech, and the situation? What is the context of the communication? The ability to analyze these elements brings public speaking into the world of science.

 

          Therefore, public speaking must be studied as a combination of art and science—the best of both worlds!

Review Questions

1) How is public speaking an art? How is it a science? How do they intermingle?