Public Speaking by the Numbers: A Stanford University Perspective

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Every higher-education professor knows the importance of public speaking for their students’ academic and professional success, and the students understand that public speaking—and communication in general—is a skill they need to learn. But the questions of what exactly strong communication is and how to go about improving have, for a long time, had somewhat murky answers.

At Quantified Communications, we offer a concrete, data-driven approach to communication evaluation and improvement, using algorithms built upon decades of academic research and years of data science expertise and audience testing. Our platform allows higher-ed faculty and students—and professionals of all ages and in all industries—to objectively measure the way their communication impacts their leadership and create action-oriented, data-driven plans to improve.

Several years ago, we began working with Stanford University GSB lecturer Matt Abrahams to implement our programs in higher-ed classrooms. Today, several higher-ed institutions including the business schools at Stanford, Harvard University, and the University of Texas at Austin are using Quantified Communications’ data to help ensure their students ‘ professional success.

Early on, Abrahams wrote an article for the Stanford Graduate School of Business outlining some of the key takeaways from QC’s research, which he’s incorporated into his own strategic communication class.

He writes about the four key elements of a strong presentation: verbal, vocal, visual, and vitals, outlining some of QC’s findings related to each:

  • The words we use: language used in earnings calls can impact up to 2.5 percent of stock price movement.
  • The way we sound: a 10 percent increase in vocal variety can have a highly significant impact on an audience’s attention to and retention of our messages.
  • The way we look onstage: 83 percent of human learning occurs visually, so our gestures, stance, and eye contact are critical to getting our messages across.
  • The whole package: the most authentic speakers are considered to be both more trustworthy and more persuasive than the average communicator.

And in each he dives below the surface and offers some of the concrete recommendations, gleaned from both research and data, he shares with his students.

(Read the full article here.)

At QC, we’ve been fortunate to pair the insights from our world-class communication platform with the expertise of some of the best minds in higher education to help undergraduate and MBA students develop the critical skills they need to succeed in the workplace.