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The Art and Skill of Public Speaking

时间:2012-01-02 12:38:39  来源:  作者:

Very few of us are natural born speakers in the sense that we can speak extemporaneously and spontaneously without preparation and yet deliver eloquent, polished, and appropriate speech to an audience. In fact many of us dread the chore of public speaking. We are shy and become tongue tied. I myself certainly belong to this latter category in my younger days. However, fortunately, most occasions for public speaking are not spontaneous, whether it is classroom lectures or emceeing an event. There is always prior notice and one has plenty of time to prepare for the role. Anyone who follows a set of rules for preparation can do a good job.

 

If the mantra for real estate is “location, location, and location”, then it is “Preparation, Preparation, and Preparation” for public speaking. In preparing for a talk, you must know

1. The purpose of your speaking job, the occasion, and the time available to you

2. Prepare your remarks according to #1. You should concentrate on what may be of interest to the audience NOT what is of interest to you.

3. Outline your ideas on a series of note cards. Carry them with you. Anytime an idea presents itself enter it or revise on the appropriate note card. In case you have audio-visual for your talk, then PowerPoint slides becomes your note cards.

4. If you practice #1-#3 repeatedly over the course of a week or two, then a speech naturally will be the result (note 1)

This is the first step of preparation. Now onto the second step:

5. Practice your speech using the set of note cards developed above.

6. If you like you can write out during practice what you wanted to say using the note cards as an outline. However, NEVER read a speech when the time comes to deliver it (by the same token, professors should never read from notes during a lecture).

7. When you get to the point you can deliver the speech preferably using only the note cards as occasional reminder, you should give your talk to a couple of good friends or your spouse who can honestly give critiques.

8. Step #7 as well as the passage of time will give you ideas on how to revise steps # 5-6 above until you have a final version.

The final step of preparation involves committing your speech to memory. By this I don’t mean memorize it word for word.

9. Memorize the content of the speech (with help of the final version of note cards if needed) by practicing it in your mind any chance you have, e.g., when you are waiting for a bus, walking to work, or doing some repetitive chore that does not require thinking.

10. It is best to be able to deliver the talk without notes (if you practiced #9 enough times, you should be able to do so). Don’t worry if you miss 5-10% of the content even during the actual talk. Being able to deliver 90-95% of a well prepared talk will put you far ahead.

11. Incorporate last minute items on the day of the speech depending on appropriate local circumstances and happenings. For example, google “today in history” and find out any interesting happenings on this day in the past and tied it to your speech occasion. Or do a bit of research about the locality or the organization that invited you. This will distinguish you from other prepared speakers.

12. Humor always imporves a talk. you don't need to dream up your own jokes. There are books and web sites for jokes which you can research and adapt to your talk. But don't over do it when you first start out.

 

After the talk do a post-mortem on your performance. This way you will know how to improve next time around. By practicing the above 12 steps diligently, anyone will be able to become a good speaker. And with enough practice and experience, you may even begin to approach a natural born speaker.

Finally, if you are interested in improving and/or practrcing your speaking skill there are two sources both of which I have had good experience:

A. Almost every city has evening adult education classes in public speaking for very low cost which you can enroll in.

B. Almost every town has a chapter of Toastmaster International which you can join for no cost. This organization is devoted to training in public speaking

(note 1. In 1999 I was invited to give a plenary talk in the world congress of my profession held for the first time in history in Beijing China - a once in a lifetime occasion. Steps 4-6 above consumed a period of 12 months for me.)

(Note 2. 10 tips for public speaking from Xerox office http://www.office.xerox.com/latest/XOGFL-45U.PDF?source=109008&CMP=OA-2011-12&CRTV=A5&AUD=ENUS&LNK=Tip1&XOGlang=en_US)

 

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