Effective Communication Skills, and Me.

Effective communication skills – before the making of SPEAK, I honestly had never even thought of how important public speaking or effective communication skills could be.  It never crossed my mind, to be honest.  But as we looked for a documentary to make, and find a compelling subject matter, fear of public speaking began to be very interesting.  Then we met the Toastmasters, and then we started to understand how effective communication skills permeate daily life.  It’s everywhere.  Being able to communicate effectively, especially in a public setting to a large group of people, all of sudden seemed the key to personal fulfillment, even political power.  All of a sudden, a quirky documentary about a basic human fear began to feel like a documentary about something much more.

When I think of LaShunda Rundles, for example, and her role in SPEAK, I see how her story, and how effective she was at communicating her story, has changed thousands of peoples lives.  Audience members email us all the time saying they didn’t know how important speaking was, or that before they heard Lashunda’s speech speaking was an afterthought, something that you had to do at a wedding or some social affair.  But it’s everywhere.  And being able to communicate effectively, to speak compellingly, all of a sudden seemed like the secret recipe for success, in work and in life.

SPEAK, then, became a journey of personal discovery for both Brian and me, on many different levels..  Intellectually, the discovery was how important communication on a group level was to self-actualization.  Professor John Daly broke it down for us simply – studies have shown that people who are extroverts and take communication seriously are more prone to success  and happiness.  Even in math, they get better grades than the quiet ones in the back of the room that are too afraid to raise their hand.  On a daily basis, if you have effective communication skills and are able to speak compellingly in public, your ability to rise in your career and life will be greatly affected.

Strange how documentary films can take you from one understanding of life to the other simply by turning on the camera and being curious.  We get to take the ride with the audience and learn with them.  Put simply, what seemed like a film about an obscure and quirky subject matter became a story of vital importance to what it means to be essentially human.

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