It was many years after I left school that I tried to figure out what all those subjects were for, and why we were obliged to study them? The other thought that begged to be answered was this: Which subjects were most important? I figured that it depended on what you planned to do after school or ended up doing. However, as I thought about it more, I came up with these answers:
Mathematics: You can do nothing in business without a reasonable grasp of maths. People who understand numbers have the ability to run their own finances and grasp how business works. They also understand the basic concept that if you spend more than you earn you will go “belly-up”, a simple calculation that seems to elude many folk. A basic understanding of accountancy is another major advantage.
English: As the most widely used language on earth, and the accepted language of international communication, a sound grasp of the English language can be a substantial advantage. Basic understanding usually comes first, followed by the ability to write and then speak. The latter is usually the neglected area, as emphasis is usually on the ability to select rather than project words. Here then, is the thing: Those people who can project effectively get the best breaks, the best jobs, the quickest promotions – and make the most money. This may be a generalization, but a strong enough generalization to qualify as a rule. Companies want to employ leaders who can communicate effectively, persuade clients and influence staff. There is, and has always been a shortage of people who can do these three things.
But just as reading and writing are the pillars on which language tuition is traditionally built, the area of speaking properly receives far too little attention, resulting in many pupils graduating from school with sound academic knowledge, but an inability to effectively express themselves, hampering their attempts to apply their knowledge and get ahead.
The techniques of speaking effectively to one or many people can be acquired through a little training and lots of practice. People who have attended speaking or presentation skills training and apply what they’ve learned in the practical sense, seem to succeed at just about anything they try, and command the respect and attention of others in business. This results in increased confidence and a feeling of being taken more seriously by others.
It is clear that the world has changed remarkably in the last 100 years in ways that we often do not realize. 100 years ago, it was really only leaders who were required to “stand up and speak” in front of others. Today, if you don’t stand up and speak at least occasionally, you’re the exception. If you are going to be required to speak to an audience at some stage or persuade others in one-on-one situations, why not accept that it is a skill that can be learned, and decide to learn to do it properly.
After all, whether it’s a job interview, a sales presentation, a speech, or a meeting, the winner is usually the one who can express themselves best. I’d like that to be you.