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Public Speaking Know How
Public Speaking Know How
There are days and sometimes weeks, especially during a worldwide pandemic, that are completely devoid of excitement, passion, and enthusiasm. One day is the same as the next. The routine of waking, showering, dressing, working, exercising, eating, sleeping, never changes. The highlight of the week may be a virtual tour through the Smithsonian Institute, watching a concert online, or ordering take-out from your favorite restaurant. Same exercise, different day.
Let's take an inventory.
Uno - Traveling is ill-advised. The state of Kentucky is under a travel advisory that asks Kentuckians to self-quarantine for 14 days after visiting states with positive coronavirus testing equal to or greater than 15%.
Dos - The current guidance for social gatherings stands at 10 or fewer people. Recovered COVID-19 patients have shared war stories about attending a family wedding or funeral and sitting next to the guy that spread CoV-2.
Tres - Mass gatherings are still 'hauci fuera' as my cousin would say. So, here we sit in a bubble without travel, social gatherings, or ‘live’ entertainment. Today’s emoji is screaming ‘find the passion for the passionless.’
If I were approached and asked to speak about my infant website, I’d be super pumped. It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about anything. Summer pushed me to the brink and I needed a critical thinking task. Not just ‘busy work’ or something to occupy my time, I needed to wake my brain. Starting WKY Community Living did that and more.
How it began.
I became a ‘news junkie’ after working for the local newspaper. I became interested in ‘the news’ after my high school journalism class. Most of my general education requirements were fulfilled prior to my senior year. The only courses left were English and a couple of electives. Journalism sounded fun and the teacher was cool. My teacher, Ms. Vicki Russell was also the advisor for The Tilghman Bell and once a year she invited the journalism class to participate in a single issue of ‘The Bell.’
For my contribution, I sketched a cartoon with a funny headline. Once submitted, it was accepted and printed. Though my submission seemed small and insignificant, it was my ‘wake up call’ to declare a major in journalism.
After high school, I attended Murray State University majoring in broadcast journalism. After completing my undergraduate degree, I continued my education and received a Masters Degree in Organizational Communications.
My first career job was at a local radio station as a reporter and disc jockey. After a few months of struggling financially, I was recruited into sales...my lifelong occupation.
After years of suppressing my passion, it reignited. I started writing for a small newspaper group and over the next several months ‘took a stab’ at creating a website. Writing my thoughts down on paper has been one of the most fulfilling challenges of my professional career. It’s a game changer.
It’s in these life exercises we get permission to explore new opportunities or passions. To choreograph a life left on the stage after the lights have dimmed. Developing an impassioned speech, requires turning the lights back on. Writing about what interests you instead of playing it safe.
In previous articles, I’ve discussed giving speeches on topics that are familiar and I still advocate this approach. However, if you want to light a new fire, choose topics that spark interest for yourself and your audience.
COVID-19 has kept us home-bound, disconnected, and without adventures. It’s time to start thinking post-CoV-2.
For a start, research foreign lands and find out how South Africans or other cultures live their lives and plan a trip. If you want to further your education but don’t want to go into debt doing it, find out how joining the military could be the answer to college tuition fees. Research and investigation will take an ordinary topic to the extraordinary.
Before each class, I start by discussing current events. Students are busy with work, studies, home life...each requiring big chunks of an already jam-packed day. There’s limited time to scroll through multitudes of news apps, read the newspaper, or watch television news. Part of my job is to help get the conversation started and keep students engaged.
As a public speaker, it’s important to include novel (current) information in your speeches. Unless you’re speaking about the Civil War or other historical events, information that’s more than a decade old is considered irrelevant and untimely. Information such as election 2020 and CoV-2 are considered novel and timely. Be forewarned, topics like COVID-19 are ever-changing and it’s your job to stay on top of new information.
For example, this past week government officials released new protocols on testing for the COVID-19 as well as admitting to embellishing the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy as a treatment for CoV-2. If you’re giving a speech on subjects that are evolving, be prepared to update.
If your goal is to find subject matter that includes an emotional element, take a self-inventory. A time of reflection of who we are sometimes is a necessary first step.
For instance, we are born into a value system, one of which we had no control over. It’s those systems that assist in shaping our lives. Take an inventory of childhood experiences including the environment, financial situation, health, friends and family, all those nuances that helped mold your world view.
Though we are born into one value system, as we age and become free thinkers, we get to choose to either keep those values thrust upon us at birth or create new ones.
Our personal values or core values are the foundation and navigation system for our life. We begin to form opinions on subjects like the death penalty and abortion. We begin to associate with like-minded people by joining political parties, group memberships, or religious institutions. Speeches that include our personal values give the audience a glimpse inside the speaker’s sentiments. Being able to speak openly and honestly about things that make us tick is of great value to the speaker and the audience.
Another option for giving edgy, passionate speeches are to choose topics based on our hobbies, special interests or charity work. These subjects are action-oriented and provide good energy. Topics that explore outside interests can be extremely passionate. If you can do it, you can say it.
Being a public speaker goes beyond ‘showing up and throwing up’. You may not even know you’re living a life full of interesting content that needs to be shared with the world, colleagues, or the classroom. Everybody has a story, be sure you tell yours.