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Speaking with confidence in front of a large audience sparks fear into most of us. What if I fail as a public speaker and the audience becomes bored? What if I can’t speak well and my fears of public speaking make me freeze on stage? The human mind can curate endless awful scenarios like these. And, it’s especially adept at doing so right before hopping on stage. There’s a special term for this type of phenomenon – glossophobia.
Glossophobia, also known as a fear of public speaking, seems like a natural part of life to many people. That’s a misconception. Most people can defeat those fears with little effort. Many people even have an unrealized ability to become confident speakers in public. Being confident during public speaking is rare, and it’s a soft skill that is very sought after. It’s crucial not only in public arenas but also in business and education.
Before we continue with the best public speaking classes, take a moment. Listen to this guide to public speaking by Chris Anderson, the head of TED:
These are some very effective tips and tricks for public speaking from the head of TED. Expect to learn many more “knowledge bombs” if you take one of the top public speaking classes on this list.
An accredited public speaking class is an effective fast-track method for speech-giving. To be able to speak in public in a dynamic, effective and convincing manner, you need a good teacher.
This is why I created this list of the top public speaking online courses. Developed by the world’s best universities, they also come with university-level quality standards. Without further ado, let’s have a closer look at the best of them.
Here are our choices for the best public speaking course:
- Best Overall: Storytelling and influencing: Communicate with impact (Coursera)
- Best Short Course: Intro to Public Speaking – Give a 5-Minute Talk Without Dying (Skillshare)
- Best Certification Program: Dynamic Public Speaking Certification (Coursera)
- Best Free Course: Public Speaking (edX)
- Best Mixed Certification: Presentation Skills Certification (Coursera)
- Best for Glossophobia: Successful Presentation (Coursera)
- Best for Elocution: Public Speaking: A Crash Course on Elocution and Confident Speech (Skillshare)
Storytelling and influencing: Communicate with impact
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Intro to Public Speaking - Give a 5-Minute Talk Without Dying
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Dynamic Public Speaking Certification
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Presentation Skills Certification
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Public Speaking: A Crash Course on Elocution and Confident Speech
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Best Overall: Storytelling and influencing: Communicate with impact (Coursera)
A superb class for speech-giving in a business environment.
In the top spot, we have “Storytelling and influencing: Communicate with impact” by Macquarie University. It’s a 13-hour public speaking course that’s part of an online MBA degree. The lessons tackle speech-giving from a business perspective. Yet, even those outside of the business sector will find plenty to learn from this course. While it’s designed for business executives, it’s suitable for anyone.
The first instructor of this course, Arabella MacPherson, is a corporate communications coach. She has taught CEOs and managers from companies such as American Express and Deloitte. The second instructor, Lawrence Ang, is a renowned author. He has published various books and journal articles related to marketing communications.
Despite this class being part of a degree program, it is accessible to all students. And, what a fantastic opportunity it is. This online class is full of engaging and motivational content. More so than any other public speaking class I have seen. It offers degree-level knowledge without the massive costs usually associated with obtaining degrees. As such, the cost-effectiveness of this course is through the roof.
This class in public speaking has 6 sections:
- Persuasion. Here, you will learn how to become a persuasive public speaker and how to appeal to your audience.
- Storytelling. Here, you will learn to develop captivating narratives.
- Connecting with people. In this chapter, you will learn to build rapport through verbal and non-verbal cues. Plus, you will learn how to mirror-match the behaviors of other people.
- Leading group conversations. Here, you will learn to lead effective group discussions and plan effective meetings.
- Handling negative feedback. This lesson teaches you how to handle objections and overcome resistance.
- How to win over hearts and minds. Here, you will learn to pitch your ideas and craft well-structured pitches.
As you might have realized, not all these topics are about public speaking. Yet, all these skills are vital for anyone in a leading role. The skills taught during this course will prepare you for any type of leader or management role. The role of a public speaker is one of them.
I can recommend this as the absolute best public speaking class. It’s especially valuable for the entrepreneurial spirits among you. It’s not a course that teaches talking on the big stage and nothing else. If you’re looking for that, then this course will not be an ideal match for you. You have to be willing to look at the bigger picture to make sense of this course.
Best Short Course: Intro to Public Speaking - Give a 5-Minute Talk Without Dying (Skillshare)
A short, humorous and information-rich public speaking course.
Next up, we have “Intro to Public Speaking – Give a 5-Minute Talk Without Dying”. This is a short but sweet introductory 47-minute public speaking course. It’s taught by Nick Armstrong, an entrepreneur who likes to combine humor with teaching.
As this class is so short, you shouldn’t expect to become the next Steve Jobs of public speaking by the end of it. It’s not meant for that. Instead, this class will introduce to you the basic principles of public speaking. Principles such as speech practicing and outlining. Plus, it covers building a stage presence and brainstorming speech topics.
It’s on the top of this list of public speaking courses as it’s so value-packed. It’s full of practical tips and tricks to help you get started in speech-giving. And, it’s very motivational. Every lesson you watch from this course will end up with you going deeper into the rabbit hole. You will be searching for extra information. This course doesn’t give you all the information you need right at your fingertips. Instead, it piques your curiosity and guides you towards self-learning.
It’s engaging, easy to follow, inspirational and above all – very informational. This will be the best public speaking class for you if you’re looking for a short course to fit into a busy schedule.
Best Certification Program: Dynamic Public Speaking Certification (Coursera)
A comprehensive online public speaking certification program.
In third place, we have “Dynamic Public Speaking Certification”. It’s a 7-month certification program led by the University of Washington. If you’re quick, though, you can finish the program much quicker than seven months. That is because the 7-month study period assumes a commitment of 3 hours per week. Needless to say, that’s not a lot.
The “Dynamic Public Speaking Certification” offers a very valuable public speaking certificate. That is because this program is one of Coursera’s Specialization programs. These are not your average online courses. Instead, they are a series of connected courses. When taken in succession, these courses give students a very strong basis of knowledge on a topic. And, they result in a special certificate.
This public speaking certification consists of 4 individual courses. If you wish, you can also take these courses separately. These are the courses covered in this specialization:
- Introduction to Public Speaking
- Speaking to inform: Discussing complex ideas with clear explanations and dynamic slides
- Speaking to persuade: Motivating audiences with solid arguments and moving language
- Speaking to Inspire: Ceremonial and Motivational Speeches
With a total of 4 courses, signing up for the Dynamic Public Speaking Certification program is a considerable commitment. As you progress through the courses, you will be writing, practicing and recording your own speeches. All the while getting one-on-one expert feedback on your progress.
With this certification program, you will master the art of giving effective speeches. You will speak with confidence in front of large crowds. Writing thought-provoking speeches will become as easy as riding a bicycle. And, you will overcome any mental barriers or fears surrounding public speeches.
This is one of the best public speaking courses there is. But, due to the massive syllabus, it is only suitable for fully committed students. Students who can put consistent weekly effort into their studies and who can do so for months.
Best Free Course: Public Speaking (edX)
An engaging and free-to-access public speaking class.
In fourth place, we have “Public Speaking” by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). This is a 3-week course that’s the best-in-class when it comes to free public speaking classes. It’s aimed at beginner-level students and does not need any prior knowledge. As usual with edX, the course lessons themselves are free to access. But, remember that non-paying students can’t access certificates or graded activities.
In this training program, you will learn the basic elements that make up a successful speech. Also, you will learn the skills necessary to express yourself with confidence. You’ll learn to analyze and critique the speeches of other speakers. And, you’ll learn to write impactful speeches yourself.
This is the best free public speaking class currently available. But, it’s not always as engaging as some of Coursera’s premium courses. I still recommend checking it out though – it’s a fantastic course nonetheless.
Best Mixed Certification: Presentation Skills Certification (Coursera)
A certification program that combines speech-giving and speechwriting.
Next up, there is “Presentation Skills” by Tomsk State University (TSU). This is another Coursera’s Specialization program, like the “Dynamic Public Speaking Certification”. It’s suitable for beginners and requires approximately 5 months to finish at 6 hours per week.
Compared to the University of Washington’s “Dynamic Public Speaking Certification”, this program is more a 50-50 mix. A mix between speechwriting and speech delivery, that is. It’s not 100% focused on speech-giving, unlike the University of Washington’s course. This could be both a positive and a negative, depending on your needs.
As is the case with all specializations, any courses included in this series can also be bought separately. These are the individual courses included in this certification program:
- Speechwriting and Storytelling
- Designing Presentation Slides
- Effective Presentation Delivery
- Public Speaking Project
Besides speaking in public, this specialization also focuses on speechwriting and presentation design. While these are complementary skills for a good public speaker, they are not a necessity. After all, many of the world’s most successful speakers never write their speeches or design their slides. It’s still a good idea to develop these skills, though. You never know what you’ll need during your career. For mixing speechwriting and speech delivery, this is the top public speaking class.
Best for Glossophobia: Successful Presentation (Coursera)
A superb class for overcoming a fear of public speaking.
Next up, I chose “Successful Presentation” as another top public speaking class. It’s led by professor William Kuskin from the University of Colorado Boulder. It’s beginner-level and takes approximately 8 hours to complete.
The purpose of this course is to enable students to become powerful speakers. Not only in large crowd settings, but also in the context of smaller group meetings. The course lessons are full of practical examples of how to overcome social anxiety. Also known as glossophobia, a fear of giving speeches can be difficult to overcome.
For defeating glossophobia and de-stressing public speaking, this is a superb course. While I would have preferred more lessons on presentation skills, I still found this class excellent as a whole.
Indeed, this is the best public speaking class for overcoming glossophobia. If you struggle with this, then this course is an excellent resource to learn practical tips from.
Best for Elocution: Public Speaking: A Crash Course on Elocution and Confident Speech (Skillshare)
A short course with a focus on elocution and pronounciation.
Last but not least, I chose “Public Speaking: A Crash Course on Elocution and Confident Speech”. This is a short 26-minute online course in public speaking taught by Ashley Keenan. Ashley has been a public speaker for various nonprofits and she has also worked in comedy.
Due to the short syllabus of this course, you will find only a select few topics covered here. These topics are elocution, inflection, projection, voice clarity, and enunciation. This course focuses more on the “speaking” part of “public speaking”, and less so on the “public” aspect of it.
Thus, I would recommend this course for those of you who, most of all, want to focus on improving your elocution. This course is full of helpful tips for improving your speaking.
It might be a good idea to pair this course with Skillshare’s second public speaking course. That is “Intro to Public Speaking – Give a 5-Minute Talk Without Dying”. The two classes complement each other well. That is because one of them focuses on improving vocal skills and the other on talking in front of large crowds.
All in all, this is the best public speaking class for those of you who want to improve your elocution.
Frequently Asked Questions
👩💻 What is an online public speaking class like?
What your online public speaking class experience is like depends on the specific course. Some public speaking courses involve giving speeches online through a webcam. Others focus on public speaking theory and practical tips and tricks on improving your speeches. And, finally, some classes on this list focus on speechwriting and presentation skills. Practicing speech-giving is usually a part of the syllabus, but not always prioritized.
💰 How much is a public speaking course?
There’s a wide range of costs associated with public speaking courses. The prices for some of the top public speaking courses on this list are completely free. Others cost around $45 every month until graduation. None of the courses on this list cost more than that. That is because the premium classes we assessed had poor cost-effectiveness.
🗣️ Where can I learn public speaking?
In this list, you’ll find online public speaking training programs that take place from the comfort of your home. All you need to take these classes are a computer device and an Internet connection. Besides online classes, there are also many physical public speaking classes that take place worldwide. But, they are location-dependent and not covered in our review.