Part 1: Speech On How to Deliver a Speech Without Losing Interest with The Audience
Public speaking causes a great deal of anxiety, stress, and fear. The problem is that speaking in front of groups of people is part of the work of students, employees, and those who own and manage businesses. It is an essential skill that everyone is supposed to learn. The speech delivered by Steve Jobs in 2005 at Stanford University has been seen about 25 million times on YouTube (if we add this one and this one). Thirteen years later, a version of the text still circulates on the Internet. The speech is so powerful because of its message -he is still hungry, still crazy-, and because of its structure and the way Jobs transmitted it. The forty-fourth president of the United States, Barack Obama, with regard to public speaking, is one of the best politicians of recent times. Adam Frankel was one of the people who helped Obama write his speeches. His first advice in mastering the art of public speaking is to write how to speak. In his opinion, this obvious advice has important implications that not everyone takes into account. When we speak we use sentences much shorter than those we use in writing, something we often forget. There are very good phrases in the written language that are cumbersome in the spoken language and that we would do well to avoid. The only way to prove that we have written a proper speech to be pronounced is to read it aloud as we write it.
Secondly, one should tell a story. A speech has its own narrative development. A discourse has its own narrative development, and even if it only lasts 10 minutes it must have, like any argument structure, introduction, knot, and outcome. A classic technique is to start with a personal anecdote that puts the focus on the idea we want to convey. People prefer speeches with a slow and warm start, a half with substance and an inspirational ending. However, this does not have to be the case always since everyone has his or her style, the important thing is that you tell a story that you feel comfortable with. Nowadays, people tend to fill their speeches with figures and statistics, something that, according to Frankel, will never be as powerful as a good story. Thirdly, the structure is very important. It is very common that when writing a speech, we have clear what we want to tell but not so much how to do it. The structure of a discourse is important, because a logical argument, clear and well divided, is more persuasive than a disjointed one.
Fourth, one must be concise. US President Woodrow Wilson (who ruled the country between 1913 and 1921 and was responsible for the US entry into World War I) had a clear idea about the length of the speeches: "If you want me to speak for five minutes, I will need a month to prepare. If you want me to talk for 20 minutes, I'll need two weeks. But if you want me to talk for an hour, I'm ready." Knowing how to summarize is sometimes the most difficult part of a speech. The first thing we must be clear about is that our audience will get distracted if we are repetitive and we go out in the bush. It is important to eliminate all the words in our speech that are not necessary to make sense of it. We will load many more than we think.
Fifth, one must make the speech authentic, do not just talk, say something. A good speech is one that tells something important. Good speakers are able to move the audience regardless of whether they are haranguing the Armed Forces or opening a livestock fair. The greatness of a speech has more to do with values than with anything else. If you want to make a good speech avoid having a low profile, aim high and try to reach the hearts of your listeners. You must also learn to choose the vocabulary well. Good speeches are like good literature; one should pay attention to details. The descriptions are especially effective, insofar as they can convey an idea emotionally and, therefore, more forceful. Last, but not least, use body language and gestures. If your body betrays symptoms of nerves or fears, those present will be more closed to adopt the message you want to convey. To be successful, the public must feel that you are having a good time and that the subject of the speech awakens you a lot of passion and emotion. There is no need to memorize a speech. Unless we do not have a privileged memory, we cannot memorize all of our discourse. On the other hand, there is nothing worse than learning a text from memory and then "letting it go" in front of a group of people as if we were passing an opposition test. The important thing is that we have a clear discourse structure, that we learn to separate the information in blocks. If so, we can rely on some notes that help us follow the storyline of what we are saying. We can use cards with certain key points, support us in brief sentences, the only limit is what we put. Speaking in public for the first time is a terrifying task, and many people never get used to it. But nobody is born knowing. Actually, oratory can be trained and, although we do not have experience, it is not difficult to give a good speech through practice.
Part 2: Reflection Part
Improving one's speaking skills brings many benefits, which go beyond a job interview or a public talk. For those who are afraid to speak in public, only imagining the act can cause a sudden sense of threat and fear in the belly. Aversion exists and appears at different levels, at a job interview, at a lecture or on the theater stage (Beebe & Mottet, 2016). There are several aspects that I have learned to how to deal with the fear and improve my skills in public speaking that I will use in the future. The first lesson I have learned is to begin and end strong. There are several ways to start capturing audience attention. It is possible to start at the end, look at the past, project a future, make a joke or ask people to do something. To illustrate the point of view, one should begin with a short story or an anecdote. Likewise, it is important to anchor concepts in clear and memorable examples, so that the message stays in people's minds. An idea that "sticks" is one that involves a story, strong emotions or a well-delineated central message. This information will be crucial in any presentations that I will offer in the future and in my professional life.
Secondly, it is important for the speaker to be him/herself. Talking about things one believes in is also a key point. Knowing very well what to want to say and getting to know the audience is the most important thing. When a person is him/herself, the audience can be itself and this human experience unlocks and empowers creativity (Beebe & Mottet, 2016). It is also important to have a central theme. The speaker should know beforehand what the main message they want to convey, stick with it and make it clear to the public. Therefore, even if one loses the line of reasoning unintentionally, it will be easier to pick it up again.
Thirdly, I have learned that it is important to know how to give rhythm. Speed control and tone of voice pass a sense of self-confidence to the public, as well as lowering their pitch at the end of a sentence convey power. Going too fast on the content one has planned to spend is a common trap, and can leave the speaker with time to spare and it is going to be a hard time getting through. Professional speakers are deliberately slow in delivering content, not in a way that bothers the audience, of course, but in a rhythm that will encourage everyone in the room to pay attention and wait for every last word of the phrase (German, 2010). It is best to cover points that were not clear during the questions at the end of the presentation than to play a million words a minute and hope that the audience can digest everything.
Fourth, I have learned that smiling is a powerful tool. This will help me when communicating with my peers, my employers, and even in my social life. The power of a smile should not be underestimated: it is able to make the speech more welcoming. The human brain is so attentive to the act that it is able to discern sixteen kinds of smiles even if it is just listening to the voice (German, 2010). Being vulnerable and reducing stress also helps in delivering a good speech. If the speech includes a question and answer session, it is important to establish that you do not know everything at all - nor should the audience know. If someone asks something you do not know, confess and ask what he/she thinks about it. Leaving a more informal atmosphere is also a way of making the audience less passive and eliminating the distance between the speaker and the audience.
There are several strategies which can improve speech-making abilities. The speaker has to develop critical thinking. Sometimes people feel they have the right information, that the other person's argument is wrong, but they cannot express themselves effectively. The point is, speaking well requires learning to think well, to have the ability to organize and clearly see the relationships between ideas (German, 2010). Activities such as reading, critical thinking exercises and interpretation of texts and lectures help develop critical thinking. Thus, it is possible to learn to identify weaknesses in another's argument to avoid them in their own arguments.
Another strategy is to use examples. The examples help to clarify and reinforce ideas. They transform abstract ideas into concrete and understandable ones to listeners. Rehearsing long storytelling is a good way to make them more interesting, as they are like stories and depend on both the way they are told and the content. "People, in general, are more influenced by clear and personal examples. Another strategy is to plan. A speaker should always plan what he or she will speak on important occasions like interviews, meetings, negotiations, and presentations. One should try to organize sentences in the most objective way, and define where one wants to go with each one. It is also important to define the stages of the speech; beginning, middle, and end must be well divided (Beebe & Mottet, 2016). Another key point is to prepare for possible questions about the main arguments. Another strategy is to always keep practicing. Practicing is the most important thing to improve any skill. One could nominate him/herself as a speaker in some event that will affect their sector or organization. In the end, speaking in public will seem like the most natural thing one has ever done.
For effective communication one has to learn to develop all its elements. Nonverbal communication is very important, what the hands say, posture, gestures, and look influence how the message will be perceived. One has to learn to manage and enhance different aspects of verbal communication such as tone, speed, pauses, emphasis or rhythm, which allows the speaker to reinforce the content and transmit energy (Beebe & Mottet, 2016). Another fundamental part of oral communication is social skills. That is, how it connects with the public, how they get hooked with the message and how it interacts with them because there are situations in which one has to answer questions or deal with difficult people who require us to redirect the situation or make changes in the program that have been established.
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