Insider Exclusive: Is Online Public Speaking an Oxymoron?

Insider Exclusive: Is Online Public Speaking an Oxymoron?

By Vincent Ivan Phipps

Oxymoron – A figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear

Common oxymoron morons include:

  • Good grief (if it’s grief, how can it be good?)
  • Jumbo shrimp (Jumbo is big, shrimp is small!)
  • Pretty ugly (if it’s pretty, how can it be ugly?)

If public means in the presence of others, and online is using a private electronic device, then how can online public speaking, be in the “public”?

Of course, we are all aware that online courses can have value. As a presentation coach and professional speaker for 24 years, our research validates that 89 percent of today’s professionals still rank speaking in public as a top fear. One hundred professionals in sales, marketing, small business owners, and entrepreneurs were surveyed. They stated they give up to three presentations a day. They all considered presentations as any of the following: sales presentations, negotiations, introductions, elevator speeches, and yes; even interviews!  At a rate of three presentations a day, that equates to 15 presentations a week, 60 presentations a month, and a whopping 720 presentations a year!

With all that talking, you would think that as professionals, we would be more comfortable speaking in public. But what is the “public”? Is the public, an audience of thousands? Is the public a small group of focused people that are there to scrutinize you? Or is the public simply leaving a voice message? All of which are types of presentations.

When I asked my clients about what they found as the most challenging part of our A.M.P.L.I.F.Y. Your Audiences presentation coaching, they answered, “Being critiqued by me after seeing themselves on camera.” When I asked them which part of the coaching was the most rewarding for them, they answered, “Being critiqued by me after seeing themselves on camera”.

A misconception I want to dispute is that smart and capable people, just like you, are afraid of speaking in public! I disagree. Or should I say, the data does not support that opinion. Our studies in professional development show that people are talking up to 64 percent of their work day. We also know that is the nature of people is to avoid that which they fear. Therefore, even if it is part of our job requirements, we are going to stray way from speaking as much as possible.

The truth is that people you are fine with speaking. You are fine with speaking to groups. You are even fine speaking in public to larger groups. The fear you have is that you are afraid of being judged or seen as less than your professional best when you are in front of others.    

If that’s the problem, the solution is practice. But here is the problem with practice, to improve as a public speaker, you have to speak in public; or do you? Online public speaking courses now enable you to have the public speaking experience, minus – the public.

As an adjunct professor teaching Public Speaking at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for 12 years, 98 percent (ages 17 – 77), of my students are using some form of social media. Just in case you were wondering, yes, even the 77-year-old had a Facebook page. Between personal blogs, business reviews, opinionated vides, testimonials, commentaries, and even online conversations, my students, just like you, are talking all the time.

How much does online speaking classes hurt or help our personnel and professional development? 

Advantageous of Online Speaking Classes

Disadvantages of Online Speaking Classes

  • Have convenience of content access, 24/7.
  • Improve in privacy at your own pace.
  • Start over and modify at your digression.
  • Missing immediate interpersonal feedback
  • No audience interaction for Q/A.
  • Void of a spin-off or new topic discussions.

Whether you are a fan or foe of online speech coaching, know that there are hundreds of programs that are online that offer continual education. According to, at least 33 percent of today’s college students are taking at least one online class. Of those students, 68 percent said they would prefer to take public speaking online. 

Public speaking is one of our most used professional tools, yet it is also the area where we receive the least amount of training. Whether you improve this skill online or in person, how important is it to you and your development to improve? Although you may never be a professional speaker, you are a professional who must speak. 

Vincent Ivan Phipps is owner of Communication VIP Training and Coaching. As a keynote speaker and corporate trainer, he teaches professionals how to build team rapport, reduce presentation mistakes, and increase revenue through client relationships. He is ranked in the top 1 percent of the world's best professional speakers and trainers. Vincent can be reached at 423.485.3464 or

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