12 best public speaking courses online to become an influential speaker
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, public speaking is the art of effective oral communication with an audience. However, this art seems to be a tricky one to learn and master for many of us. While there are many proven methods to deliver great speeches, it is often stage fear or the fear to speak in front of an audience that will hold us back.
But, as long as human beings need to interact with each other to accomplish anything worthwhile, communication skills are essential. The good news is that everyone can learn the art of public speaking. In this post, I’ll give you a tour of 12 of the best public speaking courses that can help you prepare for success in your career and your life.
Public Speaking Courses – Learning Outcomes
Good communication is often the key to success, to reach an agreement or present an idea or vision to a wider audience. The more relevant the accomplishments are to the success of individuals, communities, nations, or businesses, the more critical it is that we execute effective oral communication to convey ideas and inspire action.
The best public speaking courses will, therefore, teach you the following core concepts:
1. Preparation: This includes research, outlining, slide creation, rehearsal and appearance. Building confidence and overcoming anxiety also come in handy here.
2. Execution: Here, you will use the skills of body language, pitching, persuading, rhetoric, and storytelling to deliver your message and get your results.
Best Public Speaking Courses – Top 4
|Introduction to Public Speaking||Public Speaking Foundations||Public Speaking & Speech Course||Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization|
|on Skillshare||on LinkedIn||on Udemy||on Coursera|
|Read Details||Read Details||Read Details||Read Details|
For entrepreneurs, especially kinesthetic learners who could use a slide deck and some practical help creating an upcoming speech or pitch meeting, Nick Armstrong, “Geek-in-Chief” of WTF Marketing and experienced TEDx speaker, has built this course just for you.
What does it – He will prepare you to deliver in “20 highly visual slides” and convey your idea with the “simplicity of 20 tweets”. Armstrong boasts a step-by-step recipe, with deliverables including helping you identify and eliminate verbal and physical tics, how to source free images for your slides, and how to look, act and sound like a pro.
He teaches some other courses on SkillShare, including one on storytelling and “Onboarding Clients Like a Boss”. Reviews say that the instructor is engaging, gives helpful examples and that his lessons are well organized.
Review – One student said he didn’t really believe the teacher was sharing his personal story. Nonetheless, this is a practical public speaking training course if you have plans for a speech and have no idea how to prepare for success. Armstrong will get you there.
Platform: Skillshare | Instructor: Nick Armstrong | Level: Beginners
Students: >2,500 | Video Lectures: 9 | Class Projects: 105
Rating: ★★★★★ | Use a free trial to take this class.
2. The Complete Presentation and Public Speaking Course – Udemy
Chris Haroun brings his 25 years of experience, including keynote and TEDx speaking, and lecturing at universities such as Stanford and McGill to Udemy in a course that covers a multitude of speaking scenarios in 16 hours of teaching.
Benefits – In 12 “acts”, he shows you content creation, preparation, techniques for successful Q&A sessions, delivery, slide creation, appearance secrets, post-presentation work and how to meet the goals of your speech – everything “from page to stage”.
He offers students many downloadable presentation templates and presentation skills guides (each covering a different type of speech) which will appeal to kinesthetic learners.
Reviews – Some students were impressed and inspired by his enthusiasm and said that he helped them overcome their fear of public speaking. Others were less impressed, writing that he could have been more concise, that he covered too much material but none of it in depth, and that he digressed and reiterated often.
Hence, if you want a great overview of the many types of speaking engagements there are and tips for each, this could be one of the best public speaking courses for you.
Platform: Udemy | Instructor: Chris Haroun | Level: All Levels
Students: >150,000 | Video: 16 Hours | Lectures: 205
User Rating: ★★★★☆ | Price: Sale from $11.99. View Course.
3. Public Speaking Foundations – LinkedIn Learning
This course is unique. In addition to a step-by-step education in preparing for, then opening, delivering and closing your speech, lecturer Laura Bergells includes a session on “anticipating tech mishaps”. We all know technology can fail you at the worst moments!
Instructor – Bergells, a graduate of Michigan University with a BA in Telecommunications and Sociology and a Master’s degree from Grand Valley State University, is a corporate trainer, writer and educator with 14 years of experience as a professional public speaker.
Her years of experience leap out of the screen to make students – especially visual and auditory learners – feel secure that they are getting a solid foundation with this course.
Benefits – This course also helps students develop vocabulary and gives you strategies for establishing your credibility with your audience in the opening of your speech. You will also learn some storytelling skills, how to outline your speech and Q&A practices.
Some of the professionals who have taken her course work in customer service, sales, and as professors. This is among the best public speaking courses for beginners and those who have never given a speech before and need a good introduction to the craft.
Platform: LinkedIn | Instructor: Laura Bergells
Level: Beginners | Students: >82,000 | Course Duration: 1h
User Rating: ★★★★☆ | Get free trial on Linkedin.
4. Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization – Coursera, University of Washington
If you need to increase confidence and presence, learn how to prepare effective speeches and develop your body language-based delivery techniques to engage your audience, then this course is for you.
Learning outcome – As you progress through this course, you will have the opportunity to master techniques such as storytelling, topic framing and discussing evidence. Like many other best public speaking courses, they also teach slide creation.
The instructor is Dr. Matt McGarity, founder and director of the University of Washington Speaking Center who has won awards from Toastmasters and the National Speakers Association for his work.
Exercises – Kinesthetic learners will enjoy the applied learning project that concludes this four-course specialization. In it, you create and record an actual presentation and submit it for feedback. Most Coursera courses use a peer assessment model, so you would get to see and critique other students’ work.
You can also earn a certificate from the University of Washington for a fraction of the original tuition costs. For those who qualify for financial aid, this course with certificates is free of charge.
Instructor: Coursera | Instructor: Dr. Matt McGarity | Level: Beginners
Students: >17,000 | Type: Specialization | Courses: 4
User Rating: ★★★★★ | Price: Free. View course. Coursera Plus $399/year.
5. Communicating With Confidence – LinkedIn Learning
If you have given some speeches already and struggled without being clear as to why Jeff Ansell has a course that may be just what you need. In addition to communication tools, strategies and tips, he teaches techniques to help overcome anxiety, breathe properly as you speak, and come across more confidently using body language and hand gestures.
His course features a detailed lecture on the “power of the pause”, a fundamental, extremely effective strategy that other public speaking courses gloss over. He demonstrates excellent public speaking techniques effectively in his lectures so you can experience firsthand what he wants you to take away from his teaching.
Exercises – There are also two valuable coaching exercises at the end of the course – one for hand gesturing and one for slowing down.
Ansell has a management consulting and communications training firm that has worked with the CEOs of such corporate giants as Walmart, Proctor and Gamble, PepsiCo and Ford. He can prepare you for the big time!
Category: LinkedIn | Instructor: Jeff Ansell | Level: Beginners
Students: >280,000 | Course Duration: 1h 16min
User Rating: ★★★★★ | Get free trial on Linkedin.
Reading tip: There are other classes that could go along well with one of the public speaking courses mentioned here. These include motivation classes, body language courses, speed reading classes, or language courses in general.
6. Jodi Glickman on Pitching Yourself – LinkedIn Learning
This is a free 15-minute course that you should take if you want to have something handy in your pocket for impromptu (or scheduled) conversations that could possibly open up new career opportunities you are pursuing.
Concept – Jodi Glickman’s quick 3 step formula is simple. It helps you respond to a potential employer or power connection when they say “so, tell me about yourself”.
Glickman is an experienced keynote speaker, founder and CEO of TED Talk, and a Communication and career expert. She is an author who has written for the Harvard Business Review and spoken on the TEDx stage.
Benefits – She demonstrates her pitching and storytelling skills from the very first minute of the class and continues to over-deliver in a relatively small portion of your time. The fact that you are taking this course means you are probably the kind of person who will benefit from Glickman’s short pitching class. Go take it today!
Category: LinkedIn | Instructor: Jodi Glickman | Level: Beginners
Students: >345,000 | Course Duration: 15min
User Review: ★★★★★ | Get free trial on Linkedin.
7. Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking – edX, Harvard University
If you haven’t been there, here’s your chance to touch the venerated campus of Harvard University without having to go to Massachusetts! Professor James Engell, Gurney Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature, brings you this course that is built around his actual on-campus Elements of Rhetoric class.
Why – For those considering a career in public service, this course will equip you with relevant public speaking skills for going toe to toe with heavyweights on economic and political issues. Engell teaches students how to compose an effective argument and how to analyze others’ arguments to identify logical fallacies.
What – In his course, you will dissect historical speeches by such American luminaries as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy to extract timeless embedded wisdom on how to employ rhetorical devices.
Here’s your chance at a Harvard education – you can get a certificate emblazoned with the school’s name and crest – and a solid foundation for giving a world-changing, history-making speech when your name gets called.
Provider: edX | University: HarvardX | Level: Beginner
Students: >230,000 | Length: 8 Weeks | Efforts: 2-3 hours/week
User Review: ★★★★★
8. Public Speaking Course – edX, RIT
A meticulous public speaker spends more time preparing than delivering. If this is your area of weakness, then you should consider this RIT offering. This course is part of the “Soft Skills Professional Certificate” program taught by Keith Jenkins, Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity at the esteemed Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).
Perspective – He leads by emphasizing that rather than being simply performance art, the art of public speaking should extend from critical thinking, well-organized narrative, reasoning, research and preparation.
Methodology – You can customize your own process through this course for successful speaking as you reduce anxiety and build confidence. The emphasis is on evidence, language, and ethics, among other skills taught by many other best public speaking courses. Here, you also get some insight on identifying main and supporting ideas.
The course can be audited for free, but a small fee allows you to score a verified certificate with the RIT logo on it. Your purchase helps fund free access to higher education all over the world, so it’s a win-win!
Provider: edX | University: RIT | Level: Beginner
Students: >105,000 | Length: 3 Weeks | Efforts: 4-6 hours/week
User Review: ★★★★★
9. Storytelling and Influencing: Communicate with Impact – Coursera, Macquarie University
If you have some speaking experience and want to level up for greater impact, you need this course. The lecturers are Associate Professor Lawrence Ang, and Arabella MacPherson.
Instructors – MacPherson is a former actress and Director of Resonate Communications where she has coached CEOs in corporate communications for 10 years. Professor Ang is Program Director of Bachelor of Marketing and Media at Macquarie. They co-present this 6 week course to hone the ancient skill of storytelling.
This course can be taken as a stand-alone certification. It will teach you story structures and provide a wealth of presentation skills for a wide range of business applications.
Outcomes – Ang and MacPherson explore some of the science behind how the brain takes in, stores and processes stories. You will learn some of the Milton Model (a set of NLP persuasion techniques that heads of state frequently use), building rapport, meeting planning and execution skills, and how to prepare for and answer objections.
Lots of diagrams and easy-to-remember acronyms will especially appeal to visual learners. This course will take your speaking to the next level.
Provider: Coursera | Level: All Levels | Students: >15,000
Instructor: Associate Professor Lawrence Ang, Arabella MacPherson
Type: Specialization | Courses: 4 | User Review: ★★★★★
10. Speakers Clubs: Toastmasters International, Meetups, NSA
If being in a club is your thing, then Toastmasters presents the perfect opportunity to network and hone your leadership and public speaking skills in a supportive setting.
Toastmasters – They are currently holding online meetings, but under normal circumstances, they hold regular in-person meetings at chapters in more than 130 countries where you can form new friendships and practice in a small group environment designed to put you at ease.
Headquartered in Colorado, USA, they have been helping people become more confident public speakers since 1924 for a small membership fee of less than US$110.00 a year payable in your currency at your local chapter.
Meetups – You will notice that some online public speaking course instructors boast some form of Toastmasters connection. Membership benefits they boast include:
- Build self-confidence and self-awareness
- Gain a competitive advantage in your workplace
- Practice speech writing and presenting in a group setting
- Boost leadership, presentation and communication skills
On their website, you can also access a wide range of e-learning resources in areas like conflict resolution, project management and online meeting management. Public speaking courses are offered in 8 different languages.
The Meetups for public speaking are pretty much dominated by Toastmasters clubs worldwide. Participating in club meetings can provide a wonderful way to gain real-life, practical public speaking training and experience.
Those meetups can either substitute for taking a course or provide a venue to apply some of what you have learned from the public speaking classes you took.
The National Speakers Association (NSA) is another organization that is worthwhile. Members are in auspicious company with the likes of Les Brown and the late Zig Ziglar. This organization could open up opportunities for paid speaking engagements if you wanted to make it a career.
11. BitDegree Public Speaking Courses
BitDegree predominantly provides online education to teach IT, business, technology, and design skills but also offers several public speaking courses on its platform. Lasting from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours, classes often target specific use cases in the business world.
Whether you need to pitch an idea, make people listen to you, overcome fears, or negotiate a new deal, engaging presentation skills are not only helpful but also essential. Everyone can enroll in the classes and there is no previous knowledge required.
Level: Beginners to Intermediates | Duration: 0.5-2 hours
Ratings: 4.0-4.9 ★★★★☆ | Pricing: from $9.99 per class.
How to Choose the Best Public Speaking Courses?
Glossophobia or fear of public speaking is a common phobia, affecting 75% of the world’s population. Don’t worry; the best public speaking courses offer help overcoming this fear. As you look through course descriptions, here are some other questions to ask yourself:
- How much or little public speaking experience do I have?
- Do I need a certificate in public speaking or just the presentation skills?
- Am I an entrepreneur or on a career path as an employee?
- What industry am I in?
- Do I want to change career paths?
- Do I have an upcoming event to prepare for?
Additionally, briefly look at the main type of speeches being covered such as persuasive speeches, informative speeches, demonstrative and entertaining speeches. Many students also prefer to have access to downloadable resources, assignments, discussion forums or material sharing helpful tips to overcome stage fear or speech anxiety.
The great news is that cost does not have to be a deterrent. Even the fee-based are inexpensive (all less than US$100.00, most less than $50.00), or they offer financial aid.
Additional publics speaking classes worth mentioning
- Chris Anderson, Guide on Public Speaking, Head of TED
- Matt McGarrity, Intro to Public Speaking, University of Washington’s, Coursera
- Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, Public Speaking Class
- Dale Carnegie, The Art of Public Speaking, Download
- Brian Tracy, Public Speaking Expert, Business, Leadership, Management Training
Best Public Speaking Courses 2021 – Verdict
Public speaking is an important skill for every student and professional to have under their belt. Possible speaking opportunities can include an impromptu opportunity that relies upon your verbal skills, an interview, a boardroom presentation to persuade investors to take a chance on you, or a speech that makes history.
I recommend investing in building this skill as part of your preparation to make a positive impact in your sphere of influence.
There’s no telling when, but people with decades of life experience and success in their fields would probably all agree that the small upfront investment in educating yourself in this craft will yield you big dividends. One day, you too may need to speak for the trees.
What Are The Best Public Speaking Courses 2021?
- Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization – Coursera, University of Washington
- The Complete Presentation and Public Speech Course – Udemy
- Intro to Public Speaking – Give a 5-Minute Talk Without Dying – SkillShare
- Public Speaking Foundations – LinkedIn Learning
- Communicating With Confidence – LinkedIn Learning
- Jodi Glickman on Pitching Yourself – LinkedIn Learning
- The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking – edX, Harvard
- Public Speaking Course – edX, RIT
- Storytelling and Influencing: Communicate with Impact – Macquarie University
- Speakers Clubs: Toastmasters International, Meetups and NSA
What are the best In-Person Public Speaking Classes?
In this round-up, we covered the best online training resources to become an engaging presenter and create compelling presentations. If your goal is to be confident in a job interview or speak up in meetings, a virtual class or book is a great start.
If you plan to speak in front of a large audience regularly, booking a public speaking coach in your city or a recognized in-person class could be a more effective option. Cities like New York NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Phoenix, Toronto, London, Sydney or Singapore have many great coaches ready to help you reach your goals.
Have you completed any of the classes above? What are the best public speaking courses to become a better, funnier and more professional public speaker? What are the best online classes to improve presentation skills? We would like to hear from you.