This Piece is dedicated to my Duenas High School(Class 1969)classmates who in one way or another help my spirit high during my four years of studies.
Col. Juanito Cabayao, Mr. Regino Pama, Ms. Fanny Ortizo, Ms. Ronne Cabayao, Mr. Romeo Padilla, Mr. Nilo Espulgar , Mr. Ronnie Navigar, Mr. Jose Collado, Ms. Rema Nangan, Ms. Mildred Cocjin, Ms. Anita Arcenas and Ms. Elsa Lara.
Above all to the lovable teacher of mine Ms. Lanada.
My Sincere Appreciation to all of you....
There are two main differences between public speaking and ordinary conversation. First we are "given a floor" for a specified period , and no one is supposed to interrupt us. We keep talking and there is little opportunity to test audience reaction to what we are saying. In conversation a listener can ask us to repeat something if he does not understand. Second, because in public speaking we must "get the point across" the first time , we need to enlarge the scale of our presentation in proportion to the size of the room and audience. Our voice must be louder , with a greater range in tone and emphasis. Words must be more distinctly pronounced , pauses and moments of silence longer, gestures more definite. We have to commit ourselves far more blodly than in conversation.
The secret of speaking effectively to a group of people or making a speech, is having the same mind set as you would when talking to a new friends in your own home. Public speaking should be more than normal conversational speaking enlarged to reach everyone in the bigger audience. But we often feel that our normal way of speaking is not good enough-we have to be more literary or more formal. This does not help our confidence; we build up a self image of an orator with all the mental barriers and fears of imagined failure. And by trying to be formal we are often dull and unsuccessful, thus firming our fears. The way out of this vicious cycle is to be yourself.
When we stand up to speak, our emotions play another trick on us by creating certain physiological reactions. These are due to pumping of adrenaline into our system;our pulse rate increases, we perspire , and in extreme cases we cannot think logically. Realize that you are not unique, but that this reaction occurs with everyone in varying degrees. An experienced speaker uses it to give life and enthusiasm to his talk. This reaction normally fades after the first few minutes . If you feel that the physiological reaction hinders your effectiveness, gain confidence by:
- Taking a few deep breaths before you get up, to give your blood a good supply of oxygen and to encourage relaxation.
- Being thoroughly prepared and word perfect with your opening sentence; and
- Engaging the eyes of someone in the audience right at the start.
Listeners will generally accept you at your evaluation. If you expect to be successful , the audience will sense it and agree. Also, they will feel well-disposed towards a speaker who speaks; looks and behaves towards then in a friendly manner.
We need something of interest to say; this means we must prepare. We must be sure that we know more about our subject that we can express in one talk. It is not only the ideas that count , but also the background to the subject that colors the way in which we give the talk. Preparation is the process of selecting ideas that we feel are appropriate to the particular , and arranging them in a logical sequence.
As well as a thorough knowledge of the subject , careful preparation of the opening and closing is most important. A well practiced opening sentence and closing is most important. Knowing the closing sentence stops us going on and on looking for an "ending" , and also ensures that we leave a positive final and lasting impression with the listeners. If you write our notes in preparation for a talk, avoid reading them out when you come to speak. Unless you are very skilled , this is the quickest way to put an audience to sleep. Reading from notes is speaking the thoughts of yesterday; we lose the little inflections and hesitations for a word that gives spontaneous speech sparkle and life. Write these on a small card in large letters, so that a quick look while you are speaking puts thoughts into your mind in the righ sequence. don't be shy of loking at your "confidence card" : your audience would prefer a coherent talk rather than random thoughts.
There are few people who use their speech organs effectively, and those who do have had some training. To be an effective speaker we do not need a long course in voice production. Most people can improve their ability to speak significantly if they practice a few basic rules. The objective is to:
- Ensure that we are easily heard;and
- Improve communication by maintaining interest and reinforing the meaning behind our words
The first rule for being easily heard is to use an adequate volume of speech relative to the size of the audience and the acoustics of the room. Owing to the use of public address systems, many of us lack the ability to speak at a suitable volume or to use proper voice projection. To do this you do not have to shout , but you must open your mouth and throat when speaking. Breath deeply and bring the air up from your diaphragm. This enables the voice to reflect off the hard palate at the roof of the mouth , and to be projected freely outwards. A few minutes' daily practice in front of a mirror will improve voice projection
Another aspect of being easily heard is articulation. In addition to opening your mouth , good and clear articulation needs flexibility and control of the lips and tongue.We know that personal appearance has a great effect on the impression made on other people. We also know the saying: "When he opens his mouth he puts his foot in it". Good impressions can be spoiled and communication impaired., by slovenly speech habits. A good way of improving articulation is to practice tongue-twisters.
The speed at which we speak in words per minute can often prevent us from being heard easily. This is also related to articulation, as the better the articulation the faster we can afford to speak. Most people tend to speak too fast, particularly when they feel nervous. This gives insufficient time for listeners to take in what is said and to evaluate it. The best way to check your speed is to listen to yourself on a tape recorder.
A final point of potential difficulty in articulation is accent. Many people seem to feel that speaking in public has to be done in the received pronunciation that used to be favoured by the BBC. This is not so; a clearly spoken regional accent adds tune and color to a presentation. Slow down a little and avoid specific dialect words if your audience is not familiar with the accent; your listeners will appreciate your opennes.
There are two main ways by which we can add interest and meaning to what we say. These are by the use of tone and pauses. Most English-speaking people use only a limited range in the pitch of their voice when speaking , often only a range of two or three tones of the musical scale.A person with a trained voice uses between one and two octaves. We tend to avoid the use of tone variation for fear of being too showy; however , by its proper use we can enhance and emphasize our meaning and let our listeners know what we feel about it. If we make a point of increasing the range of tone in our voice , it will gradually become automatic , our meaning will be clearer , and our voice will sound far more interesting.
Pausation is separating individual thoughts or ideas which may involve a number of words. By pausing , we lead listeners from thought to thought. Their attention is held by keeping them in a continuous state of curiosity. This cannot occur while talk is going on, so there must be suitable moments of silence for the listeners to " get the picture". The length of pause may vary from a split second to several seconds, depending on the importance of the point, the dramatic effect that we want, as well as the size of the udience.
The effectiveness of a talk depends on what members of the audience hear, see and feel. Each listener should feel that he or she is being addressed personally; this is achieved by the speaker looking directly at the audience. This increases not only the attention and interest of the listeners, but also the confidence of the speaker by giving him or her the feeling of speaking to a series of individuals. With a small audience , each person should get their share of personal attention. Even with large audiences , the eyes of individual listeners should be engaged. People in a circle around this person will feel the attention: the circle increases in size with the distance from the speaker. A speaker losses contact with his listeners when he stares at the floor in front of him , gazes out of the window, or apparently examines the back wall over the heads of his audience. He appears remote and builds up a strong emotional barrier.
The hands can add up or detract from the effectiveness of a talk. They should appear natural and be readily available to add meaning to what is said through gestures. Avoid continued unnatural poses such as arms folded across the chest or behind the back , both hands in pockets or gripping a table or chair. It is better to use a variety of natural positions, but remember that too great a change in a variety can be distracting.
Finally, a speaker who rythmically sways on his feet or moves about a lot distracts the attention of his listeners. On the other hand a wooden attitude with no movement at all, or with a poker face , looks unnatural and also causes lack of engagement. Be aware of all of these distracting mannerisms and habits ; they can be reduced or eliminated by concentration and practice.
Know Your Subject
One of the most important rules for speakers is: "Talk about something that you have earned the right to talk about." This does not mean that we may talk only when we are an expert on the subject , but that we have earned the right to speak on particular aspects of the subject that we choose. Nor do we need to talk like a superior expert, looking down on the unenlightened. Be confident of your knowledge , but also aware that we are all human being together.
A second rule is: "Talk about things that you are eager to talk about". If a subject is of very little interest to ourselves we can guarantee that it will be of little or no interest to our audience. Our attitude should be : "I know something which I believe to be important and worthwhile, and am going to make the most of the chance of persuading others that it is important and worthwhile.
Enthusiasm is not noise and histrionics; it is a need to get our ideas across to our listeners by giving them the same eagerness that we ourselves have for the ideas. Without this the listeners will not register what we say and will only passively react to our voice , and ther will be no point in our giving the presentation.
GA Consultancy -Bahrain will have a series of seminars in Effective Public Speaking
Please call 0973-36409105