"You got this"
Public Speaking Know How
Public Speaking Know How
Choosing the best method of delivery for any type of speech is determined by many factors. Factors such as the occasion, the venue, or time constraints.
The pandemic has interrupted one of those factors...the venue. For example, Sunday morning’s have traditionally been reserved for in-person church services. Having the opportunity to meet in a house of worship, exchange hugs with other believers, and welcome visitors with a warm handshake is no more. COVID-19 has interrupted our Sunday routine.
Some options other than physically going to church include watching services on cable television or other streaming services, drive-in churches, or virtually worshiping online. More than ever, all interactions are from a distance.
In case you were unaware, preachers or spiritual leaders are public speakers. They’re responsible for engaging the audience, without interruption, with a prepared message, and a delivery that will hold the audiences’ attention.
There are four methods of delivery a speaker may use when giving a speech: impromptu, memory, manuscript and extemporaneous.
An impromptu speech is a speech given ‘off the cuff’ with little to no planning. A speech given with little to no preparation can be quite scary, a rush of adrenaline we could all do without. If we had our druthers, all speeches would be planned way ahead of schedule and with carefully chosen words.
If you’re asked to deliver an impromptu speech, take a few deep breaths before you begin. You can keep it brief, just cover the main points. Begin with a good opening line, hit the highlights in the body of the speech, and close out with a zinger. Many times, it’s safe to begin with an opening story or example. By doing so, it sets up an easy way to conclude the speech. The speaker may refer back to the introduction tying up any loose ends in the process.
Delivering a speech from memory is a tough one. First, you have to be pretty good at memorization. For young students, it’s a piece of cake...your minds are like sponges. However, it’s one thing to memorize a speech and another to skillfully incorporate non-verbal communication.
Memorizing the words of a speech is only half the battle, the other half is the delivering the message with strong non-verbal cues. Vocal inflections, pitch, hand gestures, are all part of non-verbal behavior used to complement a memorized speech. Words won’t be compelling without good non-verbal communication. The audience likes an animated speaker.
Memorizing a speech takes a lot of practice. If you’re busy trying to remember your lines at the cost of engaging the audience, it may all be for nothing. When memorizing a speech, it’s best to use this form of delivery for brief engagements. Events such as wedding toasts, acceptance speeches, or award ceremonies. These types of occasions require shorter speeches therefore fewer words to memorize.
Speaking from manuscript is reading a speech word for word. This type of delivery is usually reserved for those that want to make sure ‘not one word’ is misquoted or taken out of context. For instance, the State of the Union address is a speech given in a totally scripted format. Every word that’s uttered needs to be exact. If there’s a mistake, it could start World War III.
Delivering a speech from manuscript is more challenging than one might think. Don’t assume because the words are available to you, that it’s an easy delivery. If the speaker hasn’t practiced reading the speech out loud, there could be trouble.
Visualizing the words and speaking the words are quite different. A speaker may find they get tongue tied while reading a certain word or phrase. By reading a speech out loud, a speaker can adjust or change the script to avoid potential pitfalls in delivery.
A speaker delivering a speech from manuscript should work on energy, vocal variety, and planned pauses. A speech read word for word can sound wooden and rehearsed and a ‘one note’ or monotone speaker won’t keep the audience’ attention for long.
A speech delivered extemporaneously is a speech with just enough notes to jog the memory. This type of delivery is adaptable to a wide variety of situations and the result is a more conversational presentation. The less rigid format is a key advantage for any speaker.
An extemporaneous delivery requires more planning. You could use note cards or a tablet with key words and phrases to help stay on task. This type of delivery allows the speaker the freedom to connect with the audience. It’s much more effective in both word and delivery.
An extemporaneous delivery works well with speaker time limitations. Being able to have the flexibility to adjust where necessary is part of the functionality of extemporaneous speaking.
In today’s technical world, a speech with a PowerPoint presentation is considered an extemporaneous delivery. A slide presentation with key points may help the audience remember the most important parts of the speech. Remember to keep your slides short and sweet.
Whichever method of delivery is chosen for any speaker presentation, all methods will need to be practiced. Even the impromptu will require a few minutes of forethought. Remember, speak with confidence and speak with the best interest of the audience in mind.
The impromptu speech is the most dreaded speech in public speaking class. It’s the element of surprise and the unknown that makes students uncomfortable. Interestingly, students that are more apprehensive about this type of delivery usually do quite well. It’s a matter of thinking fast on your feet, choosing the best path from the ‘get-go’, and sticking with the plan.
An impromptu speech is one that is given ‘off the cuff’ or with very little time to prepare. In most situations, you’ll be asked to speak on topics that are familiar to you. The trick is to 'wow' them with a catchy introduction, deliver a knock-out close, and provide some key points in the body of the speech.
Giving an unprepared speech on the fly isn’t high on the priority list. It's a scary prospect standing in front of a group 'empty-handed'. Each time the subject is brought up in the classroom, eyeballs roll, sighs are audible, and faces look panicked. However, in the classroom, everyone’s in the same boat. In the business world, it’s something you need to know how to do in order to get ahead.
Trying to calm a speakers’ nerves may be achieved by taking a few simple steps.
If you’re anxious, try practicing some relaxation exercises. For instance, before heading to the podium take slow, deep breaths. This type of exercise will help to slow the heart rate and provide moments of pause. Use the power of visualization. See yourself successfully giving the impromptu speech in front of your peers. Try opening and closing your fists releasing excess energy from your body. These types of exercises will help to reduce nervousness with minimal movement or effort.
Next, it’s time to clear the mind. Most impromptu speeches will cover familiar topics. If it’s a classroom speech, the instructor may ask students to share a family memory. If you’re in the boardroom, your boss may ask you to give an update on a project. Intellectually, you know it’s an easy recap. Psychologically, you’re afraid you’ll screw it up.
Taking the steps needed to deliver a great impromptu speech
First, grab a pen and pad for brief note taking. If paper isn’t available, grab a napkin. During a recent classroom impromptu speech, I shared with students that if they didn’t have notebook paper on them, just grab a paper towel. There's plenty available in each classroom (cleaning supplies are everywhere due to CoV-2).
Begin jotting down key points. For a recent classroom impromptu, students choose from a variety of topics. Once the topic was decided, they were required to find two credible sources, via the internet to enhance the credibility of their speech. This exercise in fact finding not only provided more content for the speech but an unplanned lesson on how easy it is to find credible sources for speeches.
Once students had their sources, it was time to find good supporting materials to use for the speech. Students had 10 minutes to find two credible sources, take a few key notes, and plan their introduction and conclusion.
There wasn’t a time limit on the speech. For an impromptu, the length of time isn’t as important as providing enough credible material to satisfy the audience. Regardless, there needed to be an introduction, body and conclusion.
The introduction of a speech needs to get their attention. If you’re discussing a topic that’s familiar, opening statements are easier to create. The introduction should be personal, it should reflect your personality, and it should mean something. Remember, introductions are more of an art than science.
You may want to try to memorize your key points. Whenever you’re writing a speaking outline for a speech, typically your main points are written in key phrases and not sentences. You want to approach the impromptu speech in the same manner. Use keywords or phrases for the main points so they’re easier to remember. Check your notes and make sure you don’t forget any important statistics or examples. The key is to continue to engage the audience through good eye contact and a conversational tone.
Realize you’re in charge of the speech. The speaker is the one that procured the evidence and planned the content. Deliver the speech with all the confidence you can muster.
After the body of the speech comes the close. Sometimes the close may be as simple as restating the main points of the speech. However, you might want to combine the recap with a personal note of your own.
Give the conclusion a little punch and make it memorable. You want to close out the impromptu with a good line.
After recent impromptu speeches were completed, students felt good about the work they had done. Most of the speeches were around 2 ½ minutes. For prepared student speeches like the informative or demonstration speeches, speakers are to have three credible sources for each speech and they're to be three minutes in length. Preparation for this particular exercise in impromptu speaking allowed for 10 minutes of evidence gathering and a brief plan for the introduction and conclusion.
The end result was student’s had a speech prepared in 10 minutes that had depth, personality, and a conversational quality. It was the most relaxed speech to date. If students had an additional five minutes to prepare and the request had been for three credible sources, an entire speech, minus the preparation outline, would be 'good to go' with 15 minutes of invested preparation.
Talk about a confidence booster. This type of exercise was one for the books. Confidence levels rose as credible evidence was delivered in an informal impromptu speech. It was effective and only took 10 minutes to prepare. It was a win for the classroom and the boardroom.
‘Beginnings are scary. Endings are sad. It’s the stuff in the middle that counts’. It's one of the better lines to borrow from the movie script, Hope Floats starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr.
Hope Floats is a romantic comedy that begins with a nationally-televised revelation that Bullock's character's husband has been cheatin’ on Bullock with her best friend. As the movie progresses, Bullock recognizes she has trust issues and slowly opens her heart to the handsome Harry Connick, Jr. In the end, everyone's happy and Bullock gets her man. Anyway, this is the idea behind the body of the speech. It’s the stuff in the middle that counts.
The body of the speech is where you ‘lay it all on the line’ for the audience. It contains the blood, sweat and tears and endless effort poured into researching the speech. Unless you're an expert in a particular field, speeches will need credible sources to enhance the speaker’s credibility. Credibility is the audience’s perception on whether or not a speaker is knowledgeable on a particular subject. If you’re giving a speech on nutrition and you’re not a nutritionist, dietician, or in a related-field then you’ll need to support your evidence with a person or organization that is an expert.
Supporting materials can be defined as scientific evidence that serves to support a scientific theory or hypothesis. They are essential to establishing credibility. There are three types of supporting materials used by student speakers and they include examples, statistics, and testimonials.
Examples may be brief, extended, or hypothetical. A brief example is a reference made in passing. For instance, if your speech was about depression, you might mention the famous comedian Robin Williams as a person that had suffered from depression.
An extended example is more extensive. Case in point, Robin Williams may not have openly expressed his unhappiness. Maybe he was good at hiding his sadness and used humor as a disguise. As the speaker, you might discuss small behavioral changes that if recognized early on, may have thwarted his plans to end his life.
A hypothetical example is one that’s created by the speaker. There’s no actual truth to it, just an inference. This type of example is more difficult to cultivate. Examples need to be believable and relatable and sometimes it's tough to do with an imaginary idea.
Another type of supporting material is statistics. Statistics is the gathering, collection and analysis of data for interpretation purposes. Numbers can be very influential if presented properly.
As a public speaker, it's up to you to use data with the best of intentions. There's no room for misrepresentation of the facts. All credibility could be lost if intentions are misguided. It's the speaker's role to interpret the data with integrity.
The third type of supporting material is testimonials. There’s peer testimony and expert testimony. Peer testimony is an eyewitness account of a situation. For instance, if you’re a witness to a car accident, you have firsthand knowledge. Expert testimony is an account given by a person with specific qualifications or special training in a particular field. In malpractice suits, a physician is typically called to the witness stand to give expert testimony in a medical wrongdoing.
After you’ve collected all your data, it’s time to focus on the main points of your speech. The main points are the most important part of the speech. A speakers primary objective is for the audience to retain the information contained within the main points.
In three minute student speeches, there are typically two to five main points. Main points should be briefly discussed in the introduction and conclusion and fully-developed in the body of the speech.
Main points need to be balanced and evenly developed within the body of the speech. If there’s not enough research material to support one or more of your main points, then find more evidence, discard it, or have another main point absorb it. The same holds true for sub-points.
Sub-points are materials that support the main points; they are part of the larger point. Sometimes in your research, a main point may have two or more sub-points that directly relate to the point behind discussed. Again, as a speaker you want to create balance among ideas and provide strong evidence for each point discussed in the speech.
The body of the speech contains transitional statements. Transitions provide a bridge between two paragraphs and help to create a smooth transition from one idea to another. They may either be words, phrases, or sentences that connect one topic or idea to another. Essentially, they let the audience know you’re about to change directions.
In the end, it’s important that the body of the speech is evidence-based and thoroughly developed. It’s the meat and potatoes of your four course meal. If you’re going to keep the audience interested throughout the body of your speech, the speech needs credible evidence. Do your research, make sure and use credible sources, and develop the main points.
Have you ever listened to a speech and wondered what’s the point? Either this clown is as lost as I am or they seriously don’t know how to write a speech. Part of the confusion may be the result of an ineffective specific purpose statement.
Before the first word of an outline or a speech is written, the specific purpose should be clearly stated. It begins with a single infinitive sentence that tells the audience exactly what you hope to accomplish in the speech.
The specific purpose statement isn't part of the introduction. It's not to be read out loud to the audience. It's to keep YOUR mind focused on the magic. The magic of fulfilling your role as the magician and performing well in front of your audience.
Keeping the audience in mind from beginning to end, starts with the specific purpose statement. 'To inform my audience about how to pull a rabbit out of a hat.'
During this step, the speaker has knowledge of the topic but the audience doesn't. It's a blank canvass. The 'big reveal' of the topic will happen in the introduction of the speech.
Revealing the topic of the speech is one of four objectives to cover during the introduction of the speech.
You may think it's clever to keep the audience guessing about your topic. That it's strategic. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Revealing the topic is the second objective in the introduction of the speech and is necessary to produce a solid beginning (The first objective is the attention-getter discussed in a previous article). If the audience gets lost or confused at the beginning of the speech, there’s little chance they’ll continue to listen for the remainder of the presentation.
After revealing the topic, the next objective of the introduction is to establish credibility. Credibility is the audience’ perception on whether or not the speaker is knowledgeable on a particular subject. There are three types of credibility: initial, derived, and terminal.
Initial credibility is established before the speaker steps to the podium. For an expert, it’s based on credentials and notoriety. When President Trump’s physicians from Walter Reed Military Hospital addressed the public regarding Trump’s health, treatment therapies, and overall prognosis, the audience had a preconceived idea that the entourage of providers had the training and knowledge necessary to explain the facts. There was no magic here, simply science and medicine.
If you’re a student speaker, you may establish initial credibility after the first couple of speeches. If you’re prepared, knowledgeable, rehearsed, and engaged, fellow students will look forward to your speeches with eagerness and high hopes.
Derived credibility is earned as the speaker gives their speech. As a student speaker, you may have limited initial credibility, however, by using credible evidence, practicing your speech, and showcasing your ability to engage the audience through eye contact, conversational style, and overall presentation, derived credibility can be accomplished. If you're able to saw the lady in half without bloodshed, credibility will be awarded.
Terminal credibility is achieved after the presentation has concluded. As a student speaker, it’s understandable that nerves could derail opening statements. Even creating a good rhythm or conversational style could be difficult the first couple of minutes. Suddenly, you’re able to switch gears and a flow is established. Your close is strong. You start to connect the dots. Whatever magic you have up your sleeve, all the coins disappear and the audience is left with an overall good impression.
The fourth objective of the speech is to give a preview of the main points to be discussed in the body of the speech. The preview statement does two things. First, it tells the audience the most important parts of the speech and secondly, it provides a smooth transition from the introduction to the body of the speech.
One of the best compliments an audience can give the speaker is to walk away remembering the main points of the speech. In the introduction, you tell them what you’re going to tell them. In the body of the speech, you tell them. In the conclusion, you tell them what you told them. And this my friend is magic.