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Public Speaking... Giving Speeches

Prof. E. Sureshkumar
Director, Centre for English Language Training,
Osmania University College of Engineering

Giving a speech in public seems to be a top phobia for many people. However, with good exposure and practice one can become a very talented public speaker. Use the points given below and train yourself to become a great speaker.

Two Essentials of Great Speeches:
Preparation and presentation (execution) are the two essential ingredients of speech-making.

It is not always possible for many to speak on a given topic or subject-matter extempore (without preparation in advance). Majority of people are not born public speakers. Public speaking, therefore, should be cultivated carefully over a long period of time.

Points for Speech Prearation:
  • Write out key notes
    The first stage in public speaking is making a preparation in advance which involves drafting your speech carefully. This, however, does not mean that you have to write down every word of your prospective speech. Drafting can be an outline of your speech consisting of the salient points you wish to mention in the course of your speech. The outline of your speech should be in the form of points arranged in a logical order.
  • Focus on audience
    Know the socio-cultural and educational background of your audience. Remember that your audiences are not always a homogenous group. They may come from different socio-cultural backgrounds and may not have the same educational qualifications. However, if your speech is of an academic nature, you can make a guess about the educational levels of your audience.
  • Focus on occasion
    The occasion or context of your speech is very important. If it is a serious occasion you must refrain from using humour in your speech. Likewise, if it is an occasion to be happy it sounds abnormal if the speaker's attitude is serious and philosophical.
  • Use resources
    If it is so required, you may have to collect factual data from different sources to make your speech acceptable to all. Mention of data and facts lends authenticity to your points of speech.
This is the most important part of speech-making. Note that you cannot start your speech directly with the points you have prepared in your draft. There are some conventions to be followed before you begin your topic.

  1. Dress well
    Your dress should be dignified and appropriate to the occasion. Wear sober and not gorgeous clothes for the occasion. The moment you go on to the stage, people should not feel that your appearance is strange or funny.
  2. Keep the dignitaries and audience in mind.
    If it is a formal occasion, first you have to address the dignitaries on the dais and express your happiness to have an opportunity for making a speech or your gratitude to the organizers for giving this opportunity to you.
  3. Use the podium properly
    Adjust your position at the podium (rostrum or lectern) so that you are clearly visible and audible to all your audience. Also, see that the mike/the public address system properly receives your voice so that there is no mechanical disturbance or distortion.
  4. Be balanced
    Do not look either too serious or indifferent or too enthusiastic. Compose yourself and start talking in a balanced pace. Do not be too fast or too slow. Similarly your articulation should be neither at a high pitch nor at a low pitch. Unless your purpose is to touch the sentiment of your audience, there is no reason for you to become emotional while speaking. Remember that many great speakers or orators of the world were never emotional except in a politically or sentimentally charged occasion.
  5. Manage time well
    Keep to the scheduled time and remember that if you take more time it may cause a lot of inconvenience to many.
  6. Use body language effectively
    Use non-verbal cues to enhance your communication. Facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures must be used appropriately. But do not over use your gestures. Do not make your gestures predictable. Do not repeat one gesture repeatedly.
Published date : 11 Jan 2011 07:13PM

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