I’ve been on a road trip. A very, very long road trip. I’m helping a friend of mine move from Los Angeles, CA to Nashville, TN. We made it about halfway before we broke down in New Mexico—after dark, in the freezing cold, and 40 miles from the next town.

We called a tow truck and camped out in the thriving metropolis of Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Arizona) for the next few days while the car was being repaired. But what does this have to do with giving presentations or public speaking?

While riding in the back of the tow truck cab, we exchanged friendly conversation with the man who had come to rescue us from the side of the road. We talked about our careers, and I told him that I teach public speaking. I braced myself for the type of response I often get when I tell people what I do. Public speaking is the worst. I’m so bad at public speaking. I hated that class in college. But here’s what he said.

“I worked on a cattle ranch in New Mexico for 40 years. When I got injured, I started driving this tow truck. Public speaking is one of the most important skills to have, no matter what you do or where you are. I use it all the time. You go back to Nashville and tell your students that an old truck driver from New Mexico said so.”

This casual response from a man I spent an hour with bolstered my belief in the subject I teach and it’s incredible importance. But just how important is it? In her paper, Communication in the 21st Century, Carolyn R. Miller says, “Economic historians have estimated that persuasive communication accounts for at least 25% of the GDP (gross domestic product).” But if that statistic and the word of a tow truck driver from New Mexico aren’t proof enough of the value of communication skills, consider what these experts have to say.

Warren Buffet

Billionaire Warren Buffet is a champion of the benefits of communication skills. He actually dropped out of his first public speaking course, but he found the courage to try again. Now, he displays his Dale Carnegie public speaking course certificate in his office. “You can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills–public speaking.” In fact, in the video below, he responds to a student saying that not having public speaking skills is a “liability.”

Steve Jobs

One of the world’s most competent communicators, Steve Jobs not only valued the power of communication to change the world, he set an example every time he presented. Some of that ability to communicate comes from self-confidence. Jobs said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” And in a feature article about Jobs for Entrepreneur, communication coach Carmine Gallo says, “You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.” Watch Steve Jobs in action.

The truth is, communication is at the foundation of every job, every business, every idea, and every relationship. It has nearly immeasurable value. Perhaps you want to improve your own public speaking skills. These experts and a tow truck driver think it’s a solid investment. And so do I.

Check out our resources for presentation skills training at Ethos3 now.

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