Throughout the history of human civilization, people have been expressing their confidence and strength, not only by force, but also by the noble art of public speaking. The orators of ancient Greece were highly respected and valued in the community. Likewise, today’s world leaders are admired and esteemed when they have the power to address the public with poise and conviction.
The average person cringes at the idea of talking in front of an audience no matter how big or small the size. Whether giving a toast at a wedding or delivering a speech to a large assembly, most people make a big deal about public speaking and try to avoid it as much as possible.
But public speaking should not cause such a big fuss. Challenging as it may be, public speaking can be done with a few simple guidelines.
Before Making The Speech: Preparation
Like any other endeavor, public speaking requires careful preparation to be successful. Many people dream of having those “inspired” spontaneous speeches seen in movies; however, such scenes rarely happen in real life. Even the world’s most famous leaders prepare for public addresses, and most even have teams to work on those plans.
In order to properly prepare for a speech, one should know what the occasion the speech is for. The Gettysburg address would definitely not be appropriate for a wedding; thus, a speech has to fit the event it will be delivered to.
Second, one understand and know about the audience who will witness the speech. An assembly of academics might not take a perky speaker seriously; one should choose a suitable public speaking style and subject based on the audience. A farmer’s association would probably not be interested on a speech about the intricacies of beadwork.
Making The Speech: Writing
Again, dazzling spontaneous speeches rarely happen in real life. Most good speeches have been written before their delivery. While many noted public figures have speech-writing committees, one can create a good speech even without the help of a team of ghostwriters.
When writing for public speaking, one should carefully organize the contents of the speech.
Begin with a very strong introduction. It is important to catch the audience’s attention early to prevent them from being bored easily.
Next, the body should be purposeful. The contents of the speech should relate well and support each other. Choose only 2 or 3 points and expand on them.
Lastly, one should make a conclusion that sticks to the mind. No matter how stirring a speech is, it is useless if the people forget it the instant they leave the gathering. Conclusions should give a concise but memorable recap of the body of the speech.
The Actual Public Speaking: Delivery
This is the part most people are afraid of; but when proper planning and writing is done well, the delivery should follow easily.
One must decide whether to speak from memory or to use notes. Beginners often benefit from a script or a guide, but when one becomes more comfortable speaking in public, one can speak without notes.
Reading directly from a script can be quite boring for the audience; thus, it is important to keep constant contact with them, raising your head and making eye contact.
Speaking from memory is quite impressive, but if you are concerned about missing some parts of the speech, using notes can be a good compromise so long as one is able to expound on the points well.
Learning More About Public Speaking
Several books and articles about the topic have been published and they can well be accessed through the library or the bookstore. Many companies offer public speaking training, and such services provide in-depth courses that could help one speak well in public. There are also several articles and courses available through the internet, some of them are even posted for free.
Another option is Toastmasters, which is an organization designed to help you overcome your fears about public speaking by moving through a specially designed program manual. You also have an opportunity to develop Leadership skills by taking on roles within a meeting.
For more information on Toastmasters and to find a club near you, click here.
Public speaking is challenging, but can be a very worthwhile skill.
To your public speaking success