Friday, April 3, 2015

Comm 3: Introduction to Public Speaking

     They say, "talk is cheap." Whoever coined the phrase did not anticipate how valuable talking is right now.
     An expert speaker can command thousands of dollars for a single speech. Popular public figures are often paid at least $50,000 per speech. Speakers such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump command $100,000 plus price tag for their one-hour long speeches. The record for the highest-paid speaker belongs to Tony Blair. In 2009, he was paid $616,000 for two half-hour speeches given in the Philippines. This means his speech was worth $10,000 per minute.

     Talk is definitely not cheap.Nevertheless, beyond the monetary value, talk is powerful. 

     People like Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Oprah, Aung San Suu Kyi, and our very own Benigno Aquino Jr. used their flare for public speaking to inspire people and to initiate change in their communities.

     You're probably thinking right now, “That’s fine. Good for them. But what does that have to do with me? I have no plans of becoming a public figure or a crusader of any cause.” Yes, you may not have lofty aspirations as these people do; nevertheless, it cannot be denied that public speaking is a means to an end. And when used effectively, it can change your life—and if you choose to—change the lives of others for the better. And how does public speaking make that possible?

     Public speaking offer three possibilities for making a difference: (1) persuading people to do something you believe is right, (2) informing people about things they should be aware of, and (3) entertaining people by making them feel happy and better about themselves.

     Some students fear the prospect of speaking in front of audience; more so, when their teacher is grading their speech. However, this fear is somewhat misplaced. It is simply a matter of how you look at public speaking.

    An average adult spends about 30 percent of his or her waking hours talking. So talking is an inescapable daily activity (and for some, a mindless and effortless one). What many people do not realize is that public speaking and everyday conversations share common goals and characteristics. 

     The skills you need for conversing with family and friends are some of the skills you need for you to effectively speak in front of an audience. These skills include the following:
  • Organizing your thoughts logically. When you are telling story or giving instructions, you need to logically arrange your information so that the listener can fully comprehend what you are trying to communicate.  
  • Tailoring your message to your audience. Speaking to parents or authority figures, you tend to be more careful with your choice of words, and delivery. With friends, you tend to be more relaxed.   
  • Telling your story for maximum impact. This is true when you are sharing a joke or when you want your friend sympathize with you. You not only use your voice and intonation but also gestures to highlight parts of your story.  
  • Adapting to listener feedback. This can observed when you are trying to explain something and the expressions of your listener signal that he or she is confused. As a result, you would attempt to make your explanation simpler or more detailed. 
     On the other hand, public speaking and ordinary daily conversations have differences as well:
  • Public speaking is highly structured. Remember that public speaking imposes a strict time limitation on the speaker. Therefore, you must be able to convey your message within the given time.
  • Public speaking requires more formal language. You are allowed to use some informal language, but it should be done sparingly. Listeners most often react negatively to speakers who do not elevate or polish their language. The reason for this is that a speech is not ordinary every day event; hence, a speech should be “special.”
  • Public speaking requires a different method of delivery. As mentioned, a speech should be special. And given that the majority of the audience does not know you personally, voice projection, intonation, and body language are important elements that also have an effect on your listeners. 
     Public speaking and everyday conversations are similar but not completely alike. The point here is that you already have the foundation and the basic skills in order to become a good, if not, a great public speaker. All you need to do is develop what you already have and to give yourself that opportunity. So if you are one of those who have preconceived apprehensions regarding public speaking, there is no other approach but to take the bull by its horns; as they say, what does not kill you makes you stronger.

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