social accountability to improve speaking skills

Leveraging social accountability to improve speaking skills

By nature, we aren’t very good at fulfilling commitments on our own. We usually need some sort of external force to make us keep on track. That’s where social accountability can make a difference.

Many of our personal goals, such as public speaking, aren’t imposed by anyone. Our boss may want us to speak, but do not force us to be good at it. You want to improve for a numerous amount of other reasons. Yet, there is always something else in the way.

How do you leverage social accountability?

Social accountability is a process of constructive engagement between you and a group of people before whom you promise to fulfill a commitment. This means you should put yourself available to be questioned and take responsibility. It makes you accountable to others.

Let’s think about a public speaking goal. You want to become a better speaker, yet, you hate to see yourself in the camera, so you’ll procrastinate. There are so many other things to do. Essential things, right?

However, if you made yourself socially accountable, there is a group of people waiting for your recordings, waiting for results. This interaction creates empowerment, due to the feedback and the good sensation to prove yourself to others. If you are open to it, you’ll find motivation in other people’s interest in your development.

We get easily motivated by others, by people who give good advice, by their conquests, their fights. Yet, we also give up too easily when the only one who will notice is ourselves. We need external motivation, appreciation, even the authority of others to keep us going. Your good intentions are not enough. You need real incentives and consequences to your actions. Here is where public accountability takes action.

Starting with social accountability

First of all, you must choose effective mechanisms to achieve the necessary social accountability. What works best for YOU? Which people can you rely on? Which people do you feel can be more useful?

There is no perfect answer; it all depends on you and the people around you. The most obvious choices could be a group of close friends or family members. Yet, you have a very powerful tool in your social media: your followers. This is the most trendy option nowadays, and it has a couple of advantages.

We connect with many different people through our social media. This means a bigger group with different visions and interactions. It gives us more significant social accountability. Besides, many of them are distant (some we never actually met), which makes them more willing to demand for results.


Before anything, you must plan. There are a few points that you should think through carefully, to achieve your goal successfully.

People – You can’t approach people randomly and expect them to help you. You need people capable of maintaining their commitment to you. Find who wants to see you thrive and understands how improving your public speaking is important for your success. People you can rely on, people that will ask you for the results and accept no excuses. There is always someone you can’t bear to disappoint. They are the right person for you to be accountable for. People with similar goals can also be a good option.

Means – Now that you have the people, you must know how the accountability will work. How will you give feedback? How will they engage with you? By what means, and how frequently? What possible systems are already available? How formal you want/need this to be?

Problems – Anticipate (as much as you can) the issues you may face. Unexpected problems are the principal responsible for us to give up. Anticipate them as well as the help you could need to overcome them is very important in all the process.

Monitoring and means of control – How will people monitor you? If you avoid a speaking opportunity, they needed to know that opportunity existed in the first place to demand responsibilities. How will you keep them informed? It is also essential for you to monitor their “evaluation”. Keep in contact with them; make sure you know how they think you’re going. You need to create a space for fast access to the information from both sides.

As soon as you have your plan complete, present it, and discuss it with the people you choose. Be open to new ideas. If everyone is working in the same direction, the process will be more natural and effective.

Social Accountability and Public Speaking

Generally, you wouldn’t think of social accountability as a mean to improve your communication skills. Yet, soft skills, are now just as or more important than technical skills to success. You can’t procrastinate anymore.

No matter how good your inner motivations are, they are easily brushed aside by other priorities in life and when problems arise. Social accountability works as an external (and powerful) force that makes us pursue our goal and not give up.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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