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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.
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Liz Latta, Editor/WKCTC Instructor with over 15 years teaching experience. Master's Degree in Organizational Communications from Murray State University