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10 affordable online classes to boost your public speaking, presentation, and storytelling skills

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  • Strong public speaking skills can help you shine in a job interview, get promoted to higher-level leadership positions, and access new career opportunities.
  • Below is a list of courses that can help you become more comfortable in front of a group, from free classes you can audit to certificate programs.
  • These aren't limited to direct public speaking courses — some are focused on storytelling or persuasive writing, since you need to be confident in what you're saying before you can learn how to present it well.
  • See more: Yale's most popular class ever is available free online — and the topic is how to be happier in your daily life
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If giving presentations or chiming in during brainstorm sessions makes you nervous, you might not mind your current remote work setup. But a pandemic may actually be the best time to brush up on your public speaking skills.

For one, many online classes remove the scariest factor — a live audience. When you can pre-record your assignments or simply watch an expert share their tips, the barrier to entry gets lower. And even in courses held over Zoom, presenting via camera takes away the very real panic of standing at a podium. 

Beyond that, the ability to captivate a crowd is invaluable even when you're working remotely. Whether you're trying to make your virtual team all-hands more engaging or need to nail those final rounds of job interviews, having more confidence as a presenter can make all the difference in your career.

The courses below range from public speaking and communication tips to storytelling and rhetoric, since your presentation is only as good as your actual speech. Some classes are also free to audit, meaning you have access to them but won't receive a grade or certification. If you want to take a paid course or earn a certificate of completion, prices can range from $15-$49 a month, depending on the learning platform.

10 affordable online courses that will make you a better public speaker:

Introduction to Public Speaking

Available on Coursera, included in free 7-day trial, $49 per month after trial

Offered by the University of Washington, this is the first of four courses in Coursera's Dynamic Public Speaking Specialization. As an intro class, it covers rehearsal techniques and speechwriting tips to reduce presentation jitters. Learners practice by recording themselves and receiving feedback so they can gradually become more self-assured orators. More advanced courses in this specialization focus on specific types of public speaking, such as informative presentations and motivational speeches.

Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking

Available on edX, free to audit

This Harvard course gets to the root of what makes an argument compelling by looking at some of the most well-known political speeches in American history. Students can annotate examples of rhetorical devices and hear professors unpack what makes each speech memorable, all while crafting a persuasive essay of their own. There's also a section devoted to public speaking advice, helping students put everything together into an unforgettable presentation. The class is free, but costs $99 if you want a certificate of completion. 

Robin Roberts Teaches Effective and Authentic Communication

Available on MasterClass, $15 a month for the course or $180 for annual membership

Robin Roberts, Emmy-winning co-anchor of "Good Morning America," shares her tips on how to connect with an audience in a more meaningful way. She touches upon vulnerability and how to "make your mess your message" before diving into public speaking strategies that can help you stand out in a job interview, ask for what you're worth at work, and even feel comfier on TV, should the occasion arise. 

Communicating with Confidence

Available on LinkedIn Learning, included in free one-month trial, then $19.99 or $29.99 per month depending on your subscription plan

The most popular public speaking course on LinkedIn Learning, "Communicating with Confidence" emphasizes the importance of your physical presence as a speaker. The class walks you through breathing techniques and other tips for slowing down your speech, managing your facial expressions, and maintaining self-assured body language, so that you genuinely feel less jittery when it's your turn to present. Once you're done with the course, you'll be able to add a certificate of completion to your LinkedIn profile for employers to see.

The Complete Public Speaking Course

Available on Udemy, $139.99 for the course

Available in both English and Chinese, this course provides a well-rounded education in public speaking. It addresses common issues like "data dumping" that can make stories hard to follow, and teaches you the key attributes of a successful speech. Part of the class will require practicing over video, which you can conveniently access via laptop, phone, or tablet. You'll also receive a certificate of completion at the end.

Presentation Essentials: How to Share Ideas That Inspire Action

Available on Skillshare, included in free one-month basic subscription trial, then $19.99 per month or $99 per year

TED Talk thought leader, motivational speaker, and author Simon Sinek shares his best public speaking secrets in this quick, one-off class. In 30 minutes, he shows you how to pinpoint what you're most passionate about, use your nerves to your advantage by converting them into an energetic stage presence, and cut down any bulkiness in your speech to get to the heart of what you really want to say. It's perfect if you have a big presentation or interview in the next few days (with little time to prep), or just want to dip your toe into public speaking without making a huge commitment. 

How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence

Available on CreativeLive for $29

Mel Robbins is a CNN host, one of the most popular TEDx speakers of all time, and the most-booked female speaker in the world, so she definitely knows a thing or two about carrying yourself with confidence. In about five hours of videos, she tackles one of the biggest obstacles to public speaking: imposter syndrome. With tactics to help you de-escalate anxiety and hop over similar mental blocks, her class doesn't just help you talk to a crowd — it shows you how to move through the world with a greater conviction of your own self-worth. 

"TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking" by Chris Anderson

Available on Audible, included in free one-month trial, $14.95 per month after Audible Premium trial ends

Written by Chris Anderson, the head of TED, this audiobook shares insights from all the top TED speakers, from educationalist Sir Ken Robinson to Monica Lewinsky. It's less about subscribing to one set of guidelines and more about exploring tips from the public speakers who do it best. As a bonus, the book is also sprinkled with TED tidbits and history, if you happen to be a hardcore TEDx fan in general.

"Public Speaking for Success" by Dale Carnegie

Available on Audible, included in free one-month trial, $14.95 per month after Audible Premium trial ends

Dale Carnegie, the famed author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," is considered one of the most iconic public speaking teachers to this day. This particular guide was originally written in 1926, and has inspired many generations of public speakers with advice that still feels relevant today. The audiobook covers all the essentials of addressing a crowd, from diction exercises and voice techniques to building an authentic sense of self-esteem as a speaker.

Communication Strategies for a Virtual Age

Available on Coursera, included in free 7-day trial, $49 per month after trial

This University of Toronto course feels especially useful right now, given that it focuses specifically on remote public speaking skills. More than ever, it's important to be as engaging as possible over video, and this four-week course covers everything from making virtual meetings less boring to giving attention-grabbing presentations over Zoom. This is particularly helpful if you're already a manager or work in a professional environment where you find yourself leading virtual meetings fairly often.

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