Public Speaking

Public speaking can be a terrifying ordeal but mastering it has many rewards such as:

  • Increasing self-confidence
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Making you aware of your own potential
  • Neutralising the issues that made you afraid in the first place

To be an effective public speaker, you need to:

  • Write the speech 
  • Learn it
  • Practise the speech with a recorder
  • Extract a list of keywords and create a mind map or keyword cards
  • Visualise youself giving the speech
  • Get regular practice

Writing the Speech

A well-constructed speech is essential for successful public speaking. A speech consists of an introduction, a body and a conclusion. The following list tells you haw to develop the body of the speech.

  1. Start with a list of the main points that you would like to cover in your speech. (Questions like what, how, why, when and where can be very useful).
  2. Arrange these points in an order in which the next point logically follows on from the previous one. Each point must naturally flow into the next point.
  3. If you are primarily visual, the use of colours can be helpful especially when learning the speech.
  4. Write your speech adding detail for each point following the order in Step 2. Make sure you use words that your audience easily understands. Add anecdotes and humour, if possible, so your audience remains interested.

It is much easier to write the introduction and the conclusion once the body of the speech is written. The introduction should be interesting giving the audience an idea of the content of your speech. The conclusion should back up, summarise or confirm what is in the body of the speech or what has been promised in the introduction.

Learn the Speech

If the points in your speech naturally flow into each other it should be much easier to learn it. You don't need to learn it word-for-word but you should know it well enough to expand the main points without effort. Being very visual I find that I can actually see each page in my minds eye, especially if I have used different colours for different main points.

Practising the Speech

The tape recorder (or sound recorder on a computer) is an extremely useful instrument to have. You can record your speech as you practise it, play it back, modify it and record it again. In this way you not only continue to learn the speech but you improve its delivery. By the fourth attempt, you will be amazed at how confident you sound, how easily you can re-word the speech or change its emphasis.

If your primary learning system is auditory, then you will find the use of a recorder extremely helpful. Even though most people have one primary learning or representation system, they actually use a combination of sensory systems for learning. For me, the combination of visual and auditory senses is an excellent way of learning the speech. Even the kinaesthetic (feeling) senses come into play because the more you practise with a recorder, the more confident you become and the better you feel.

You are usually allotted a certain amount of time for your speech. A tape recorder enables you to time it so that you can add or remove detail and make sure you never exceed the time. It is best to aim for slightly less time than you have been allotted.

Extracting Keywords or Phrases

For each paragraph or section, find a keyword that immediately brings to mind the content of the paragraph. Make sure that the keyword of one paragraph naturally leads you to the keyword of the next.

For each section of the speech, create a small card of related keywords in the order in which they appear. Then practise your speech using these cards because when you deliver your speech you will use only these cards. You will find that by this time you know your speech so well that you actually don't need the cards. However, I like to know that they are available when I speak. Being visual, I prefer to create a mind map of keywords.

Visualise

Put yourself into the correct frame of mind by visualising yourself giving the speech. If you can visit the venue before your public speaking day then you should do so. It helps to make your imagery more vivid. You should visualise at least once a day. Use all your senses in the visualisation. See yourself giving the speech. See the audience applauding you at the end. Hear their loud clapping. Feel their hand shakes and hear their words of congratulations. Feel and taste the success of having confidently addressed a crowd. This lets your subconscious mind know exactly what it is you want to achieve.

Getting Regular Practice

To become a good speaker, you need to practise on a regular basis. The best way is to join a public speaking club. Most clubs meet at least twice a month so that gives you numerous opportunities to practise. Another advantage of joining a club is that you get experience with prepared speeches as well as impromptu (unplanned or extemporaneous) speeches.

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