Guide to Public Speaking: Tips for Students
Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half of people have nothing to say but keep on saying it” – Robert Frost, quoted in Kansas City Star, 14 July 1977.
Speaking well is not merely a question of learning how to Achieve a melody so that the words are pleasant to listen to, although certainly this attribute makes listening easier. It is in fact a policy of making your presentation, whether in a small group or to a wider audience, interesting in itself without that quality being necessarily related solely to the content of what is being said. The language used must be simple and easy to understand which means that you must avoid ill-constructed and ugly sentences. Further more you should strive to develop the use of graphically colourful words; words which portray, as best as they can, the image in your own mind.
There is indeed a lot of difference between everyday conversation and public speaking. Everyday conversation is basically instinctive. Generally it needs little planning and is usually conducted in the language we speak and in most cases in an environment we are familiar with. Public speaking on the other hand has no boundaries regarding the environment and may or may not have to be conducted in an hostile environment. In addition to this you usually tend to prepare yourself and your speech before you actually appear in public rather than speak off the cuff. In dire circumstances the latter strategy may have to be used in order to keep up with the demand of the situation.
There are, of course, professional speakers who have the ability and the skill to make a success of virtually any topic of conversation they choose. This usually is achieved only through a lot of preparation, although there are people who speak naturally well and have a gift for speaking ‘off the cuff’. Unfortunately the majority of us are not like that; we need to prepare for what we are planning to say. Indeed many of us try our level best to avoid speaking in public just in the fear that we might make a fool of ourselves.
For a more social or general conversation this is basically a matter of being well read, knowing current affairs and what’s happening in the world around you, so that we have at our disposal a vast range of information to draw on. This would enable us to illustrate what we are saying with practical detail and vivid clarity. Any backup like this is essential to make our conversation convincing and knowledgeable.
Regarding a more formal speech, privately or in a business, we need to be not only well read but we also need to plan our talk logically so that we would actually be using our researched information as effectively as possible. A speech like a book must have a structure: a proper start, a proper ending and adequate filling in the middle to satisfy the listener. Good preparation is probably the first step in planning to deliver an effective speech. It is the height of amateurism to apologise beforehand for the lack of preparation for this would give the listener a good reason to reject what you are saying. The basic framework or the vital points to remember while making a speech are as follows -:
1) Preparation is the key to your speech
2) Getting the framework right
3) Know what your audience wants
4) Follow a logical plan
5) Have a specific goal
6) Use humour and joke-telling skilfully
7) Give considerable importance to the end
The above mentioned framework is just a guideline to have yourself on the right path before and during your speech. Eventually having all the above points in your speech may still not make you an effective public speaker. The reasons being that there may be several other influencing factors that have a direct effect on your speech which you may have paid no heed to. In addition to this we should not forget that public speaking is not an art that can be acquired overnight. Improvement in this field is a very lengthy and tedious process which many may never acquire no matter how much they try.
In the course of this report we will consider many pitfalls related to public speaking that hinder the course of our acquiring and mastering the skill of public speaking. A skill that is the proud possession of a very few people!