Many students hear their teacher giving a lecture but are not listening to a single word their teacher is saying. Notice the big difference between the word “hearing” and “listening.” Hearing is a physiological process wherein the ear receives sounds while listening is a conscious mental act of interpreting the sounds for a meaning or message. Hearing something means you are being passive in the communication process, but when you listen you take an active role, enabling you to give accurate feedback. Now the same can be said about seeing and watching. You can see that the TV is on, but you are not watching the TV show; or you can see that there is a person on stage, but you are not watching the speaker. The point here is that in order for you to assess a speaker effectively, you need to listen, simple as that. And when you know what worked and what didn’t, you can apply what you’ve learned when it’s your time to speak.
The Different Components of a Speech
What to Say?
The first major component of your speech is your content; this refers to what you are mentioning in your speech. Your content will depend on your purpose. If your purpose is to inform, then the contents of your speech must be truthful, valid, and informative. If your purpose is to persuade, then the contents of your speech must ethical, logical, and thought provoking.
The content is the soul of your speech. This means that no amount of theatrics or presentation skills will make a poorly-written speech into a great one. Hence, it is essential to give yourself the time to go through the proper writing process so that you can make a coherent, concise, and complete speech.
How to Say It?
Delivery is the second component of your speech. It encompasses the methods, techniques, and objects you employ as speaker to help you effectively convey the contents of your speech to your audience. If the content of the speech is the soul, the delivery is the body. The delivery is what the audience sees and hears. Therefore, an audience will not be able to appreciate a speech, though well-written, when badly delivered.
What Is a Good Delivery?
The best public speakers strike a fine balance between being methodical and being natural. Planning every move or gesture will make you look robotic and insincere to the audience. On the other hand, hardly practicing any of your moves or gestures will make you look unprepared.
Unfortunately, speech delivery is not a science; it is more of an art. There is no set of rules that will work for everyone and in every situation. What you will be learning about delivery will not be enough to make you an effective public speaker. In other words, no amount of studying and memorizing the techniques from public speaking books or courses can substitute for experience.
Delivery is composed of three parts: speaking method, the speaker’s voice, and nonverbal communication.
The Different Methods Delivery
Reading a Manuscript
Video 1: Tips on effective manuscript reading (courtesy of DrexelSpeechClass, Youtube)
This method means that you will be bringing a complete copy of your speech for you to read to your audience. Although some would say that this method is the easiest since memorization is not required, it does have some drawbacks. Speakers who use this method may end up misreading words, pausing in the wrong parts, speaking in a monotone, forgetting to glance at the audience, or getting lost in text. In short, some speakers who read a manuscript end up just merely reading to their audience and not speaking to them. In other words, using this method would still require for you to practice delivering the speech.
Reciting from Memory
This method is no longer popular especially with students as it has proven to be their public speaking waterloo. How many times have you seen a student orating a melodramatic piece about asking for a piece of bread only to stop midway because he or she could no longer recall the next line?
Many speakers do not consider this method practicable. Reciting from memory will likely impress your audience, but if you have not memorized your speech well enough, you will end up using all your concentration on trying to remember the words. Another disadvantage is that the method makes it hard for you to ad lib. The term, short for ad libitum (at one’s pleasure), is used commonly in drama and it means to improvise. In public speaking, ad libbing gives the speaker the freedom to add something or to make some changes to his or her speech during delivery. To ad lib does not necessarily mean extra content. Simple things like pausing longer or even skipping some sections of your speech are good examples of ad lib.
Video 2: Tips for memorizing a speech (courtesy of SmartMemoryPower, Youtube)
This method means delivering a speech with little or no preparation. If you consider impromptu speaking a nightmare then you are not alone. Many avoid such a situation; sadly, impromptu speaking is a part of modern life you cannot avoid.
When faced with the challenge of speaking impromptu, the first thing you need to do is to manage your nerves. Remind yourself that the audience is your friend. They know how difficult it is to speak in impromptu, and no one will expect a perfectly-organized and delivered speech. Once you start to speak, maintain eye contact with your audience and concentrate on controlling the pace of your speaking. Help your audience (and yourself) to keep track of your ideas by using expressions such as “my first point is . . .second . . . in conclusion . . .” Stating your points clearly and concisely helps you to come across as organized and confident.
Video 3: Tips for effective impromptu speaking (courtesy of Toastmasters, Youtube)
In this method, the speaker uses a set of notes or an outline to serve as a guide for the speech. Speaking extemporaneously is the preferred method by many public speakers because the speaker is not required to memorize the speech at the same time he or she is not dependent on a copy of the speech. The set of notes or outline helps the speaker to remember what next to say or organizes his or her thoughts. Spontaneity is another advantage of the method as the exact wording of the speech is chosen at the moment of delivery.
Video 4: Tips for extemporaneous speaking (courtesy of dalemercer, Youtube)
What is the Speaker’s Voice?
Video 5: Homeless man with golden voice gets another second chance (courtesy of Associated Press, YouTube)
Alas not everybody is gifted with a golden voice. Nonetheless you can learn to control your voice so that it does not become a distraction, preventing your audience from getting your message. The following are the aspects of voice you should learn to control:
1. Volume – the loudness or softness of the speaker’s voice.
2. Pitch – highness or lowness of the speaker’s voice.
3. Rate – refers to the speed at which a person speaks.
4. Pauses – a momentary break in the vocal delivery of a speech.
5. Vocal Variety – is the changes in a speaker’s rate, pitch, and volume.
6. Pronunciation – is the accepted standard of sound and rhythm for words in a given language.
7. Articulation – is the physical production of particular speech sounds.
Video 6: Different types of tone (Empowernet International, Youtube)
What is Nonverbal Communication?
Nonverbal communication is communication that occurs as a result of appearance, posture, gesture, eye contact, facial expressions, and other non-linguistic factors. Here are the major aspects of nonverbal communication that will affect the outcome of your speeches.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover;” however, you can definitely judge a speaker by his or her appearance. Personal appearance does not refer to the facial features or physical built of the speaker. Not everyone is as genetically gifted as Brazilian supermodels do. Personal appearance refers to the speaker’s clothes and grooming. Although a strong delivery can easily overcome poor fashion choices or a lack of grooming, dressing and grooming appropriately to the occasion gives a favorable first impression, making the audience more receptive to your message.
The best speakers learn to control mannerisms that can be distracting for the audience. This is the reason why you should always practice first in front of a video camera or in front of your friends. With the video recording or with your friends' feedback, you can identify movements (or the lack of) you unconsciously do that are potentially distracting. You should also be aware of the pace of your movements; too slow can make your speech boring, and too fast can create an impression that you are nervous.
Video 7: Hand gestures that can be insulting in other countries (courtesy of PimsleurApproach, Youtube)
Gestures are motions of a speaker’s hands or arms during a speech. The primary rule for gestures is the same for bodily action; it should not be distracting. They should appear natural and spontaneous, help clarify or reinforce your ideas, and be suited to the audience and occasion.
Eye contact is the direct visual contact with the eyes of another person. Looking at your audience is an easy way of establishing credibility. Having eye contact with your listeners sends a message that you are sincere. However eye contact is not enough; how you look at them is also important. A blank, fierce, or bewildered stare will not translate well with the audience. Also it is important not to gaze at only one section of the audience, as you will be alienating the rest.
Video 7: Tips on eye contact (courtesy of Emporwernet, Youtube)