Effective public speaking is about keeping your audience’s attention.
Do you paint pictures with your words or do you leave your listeners in a verbal fog?
An effective speaker puts interesting, picture-making details into his stories. He uses specific, concrete words that create vivid images rather than a blur of mental fog.
Some speakers err by talking about what happened rather than picturing it happening.
A speaker could say, “He was emotionally disturbed when he heard that his mother had passed away.” Or this event could be pictured: “The smile faded from young Bill Day’s face as lie held the telephone receiver to his ear and heard the broken voice of his father calling long distance. His fingers tightened vice-like on the receiver, and blood rushed to his head as he listened breathlessly to the saddest news he had ever heard — a head-on collision on the highway. Now the receiver felt like lead in his limp hand. It seemed all the strength had been suddenly drained from his body. With his free hand he grasped the telephone to keep from sinking to the floor. Tears coursed down the youthful lines of his face because his mother had been driving one of the automobiles in that fatal crash.”
Consider this statement, “An animal crossed the road for a serious purpose.” What kind of mental picture do these words paint? Does the listener see a dog, cat, elephant, horse, or any one of a hundred other animals? How did the animal cross the road, quickly, slowly, cautiously? Was the road a wide highway, a dirt road, a narrow trail? And what really was the serious purpose?
Such speaking blurs the mental film. It is like trying to see a drive-in movie at Hoboken through, a London fog. But when the speaker says what he really means, “A wildcat leaped across the mountain path to pounce upon a lazy jackrabbit,” he paints a verbal masterpiece.
I’ll post more about this in coming weeks about using words for effective pulbic speaking.