Concerning Public Speaking

This paper is not to be considered a strict law on the art of public speaking, for public speaking is an art and needs to be adjustable so as to create the desired results. But there are definite “do’s” and “don’t’s” that should be observed to enhance the delivery of a speech.

In general, the speaker’s dialog should flow smoothly, as though they were speaking to a friend, but it should still retain the dignity and higher vocabulary that is not so commonly found in common speech. To accomplish this, the speaker should be well acquainted with the material and wording of the speech, even to the point of near memorization. This will instill confidence in the speaker and move the topic forward steadily to maintain the audience’s attention. Never should the speaker haltingly spew a hand-full of words at a time, as so many politicians do despite having a written copy before them. Such butchery of sentence structure destroys the steady flow of a thought within a sentence and also blurs the end and beginning of each sentence and thought. It also inflicts on the audience’s mind a lack of confidence in the speaker’s knowledge on the topic and instills the suspicion that the speech was written by a hand other than the speaker’s.

Seemingly contrary to the prior paragraph’s instruction, timely pauses between sentences and at the end of a thought are an excellent way of permitting the audience a moment to reflect upon what they have heard and to prepare their minds for what is to be said. This also grants the speaker time to organize their own thoughts and prepare themselves to deliver the next phase of their speech. As with all mind-catching tactics, pauses should not be overused, otherwise the speaker may appear as unintelligent and stunned. Another advantage of pauses is the chance for the speaker to make eye contact.

Eye contact creates a more personal and lasting connection between the speaker and their audience. It creates a greater level of trust in the audience for the speaker. The longer the speaker can maintain eye contact without reverting to their notes, the greater of a chance they have to appear aptly prepared and learned on the subject to their audience. Eye contact from a speaker also portrays a form of conviction from the speaker to the audience, it shows that the speaker is confident about what they are saying, and it works to the convincing of the audience to the speaker’s point of view.

Naturally, the speaker’s pronunciation should be well defined, audible, and clear. By all means, the speaker should refrain from letting their mouth smack or click when opened. Such a lack of refined oral motor functions is aggravating to the mind, distracts the audience from the subject matter, detracts from the speaker’s dignified image, and displays an undeveloped courtesy awareness. Such undesired, primitive noises can be avoided by learning to fill the mouth with a little expelled air before opening to speak rather than beginning with an abrupt inhale preceding the parting of the lips. Breathing must be carefully controlled, as though playing a wind instrument. The speaker should be sure that the majority, if not all, of expended air used to speak exits through the mouth and is restricted from entering the nasal passages. This can be achieved by learning to manipulate the back, softer part of the mouth palette. To enhance speech sound quality and traveling penetration, the speaker should open their throat, particularly the area directly behind the tongue. It is true that these manipulations may change the speaker’s ordinary pitch and tone, but with practice, the speaker can learn to retain their natural tone with increased sound and clarity.

Above all, take note of speaking flaws in yourself and others, and search out a way to remedy the imperfection. Such practices will enable a speaker to perfect the art of public speaking and to captivate and focus the minds of their audience to the subject of the speech.

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