Jesse Scinto, Deputy Director of Columbia’s Strategic Communication M.S. program, appeared on Toastmasters’ Transformational Pathways podcast to speak about the transformative power of public speaking in one's professional and personal life.
"When you don't speak, other people make assumptions about what you're thinking," said Scinto. Surveys have shown that up to 80% of the general population reports feeling nervous about public speaking, but Scinto encourages all people to stretch out of their comfort zones and speak their minds.
He underscored the importance of imitation and regular practice. At the age of 37, he decided to quit a comfortable job and enter academia. He would go on to earn a master's degree in Strategic Communication from Columbia University, where he challenged himself to raise his hand three times in each class. "Give yourself a challenge, and you are setting a benchmark for yourself, giving you something to work towards."
Scinto also talked about the relationship between strategic communication and leadership. Leadership, according to him, is the willingness to put yourself forward; public speaking is a practice that helps to build your leadership capacity. "You get that real visceral experience of taking literal steps forward and then putting your ideas into a group," said Scinto.
By sharing his experience of becoming a Fulbright Scholar after more than one attempt, Scinto highlighted the need for persistence and learning from the lessons. "When you start going beyond what's asked of you, that's when you start to exhibit leadership."
Learn more about Columbia University’s Strategic Communication M.S. program.