While a person’s ability to speak well on his feet matters a lot in the art of public speaking, the secret to a great speech may life in his ability to listen. Here are a few ways how listening can help us deliver a more effective speech: 1. Listening tells us if we are being understood We may be well into our speech and nearing our conclusion, but how sure are we that the audience has understood what we have said? It is possible to tell that based on the look on their faces, but the sure way to do know if we have been understood is to listen to the audience’s question. These will tell you in what areas you have to expand further. If the questions concern things that were already addressed in your speech, then you know that the person asking the question has not been very attentive. 2. Listening is the opposite of being rude When a speaker doesn’t listen very well, he tends to be curt with his audience. This is evident in the way he finishes the sentences or the questions of other people. This is also demonstrated in the way a speaker sometimes answers questions with questions as he attempts to conceal his lack of a better answer. 3. Listening tells us what our audience thinks about our speech Oftentimes, the best way a speaker can gauge the reaction of his audience to his speech is through their questions. Complicated questions mean that your audience has understood your speech and are seeking to go deeper. Simple questions may mean that your speech has over-shot the audience’s level of understanding at some point in your speech. The tone of the questions will also tell you much about what the audience thinks of your speech. Are they positive in tone, seeking only further explanation of your key points. Or are the questions pointed and negative? 4. Listening tells us of our audience’s biases Most audiences have their own set of biases, especially if they are part of a group that shares similar interests. And sometimes, to put our point across, a speaker has to address these biases and he must always to it delicately. The questions of the audience will tell the speaker where he stands. 5. Listening keeps us focused Perhaps the single most important thing about listening is that it keeps us focused on the audience and concentrated on how we as speakers can help the audience to better understand our speech. It is the surest way to truly engage the audience and make them deeply involved in the message of our speech. It lets us know where they stand as opposed to where we want to bring them. Listening gives us a roadmap through which we can guide the audience to better understand the points we are trying to make. The alternative to listening is to let our minds wander and to let other matters unrelated to the questions or to the speech linger in our thought. Not only is that short-changing the audience, it is also being rude. RELAXING TO DEFEAT PUBLIC SPEAKING FEARS Believe it or not, fear of death is actually second to the one greatest fear that the majority of humanity seems tensely afraid of: fear of speaking in public. If fear is all that you are thinking, then forget about that presentation that could earn your company and you the necessary sales. Presentation and public speaking is one of the most efficient as well as effective manner in making your products and services known. Why deny your product or service the chance to be heard? If you are still afraid, try your very best to focus on the various positive after effects of making that presentation. Create in your mind the numerous clients, customers and contact persons you might not get to see or be involved with if you let that unnecessary and irrelevant anxiety take hold of you. Your presentation may only take thirty minutes but the long term effects of your pitch or presentation might go a long way. If the fear is still gripping you, try to do the following exercises to help your body relax and warm up to whatever it is you plan to do in your presentation. Turn that negative energy into a positive one and see who benefits best from it. Warm up your body Are you wearing high heeled shoes now? If you are, please take them off now. Then go and stand up. Try to stand on only one leg. Then shake the leg that is off the floor. Switch legs and do the same thing again. What you are doing is taking the negative energy of anxiety towards the floor and out of your body. Though this may appear and sound so out of this world, it actually works. For your information, actors use this as a warm-up exercise prior to attacking any scene. Hold out your hands, shake them, fast. Put your hands over your head and bring them to your sides. Repeat the same process. Doing this continually will take the tension off your hands and arms so any movements you make with them during your presentation gets to appear natural. Ease the tension present in the muscles of your face. In order to do this what you could do is chew in a manner that is exaggerated. These exercises are done for the purpose of warming any part of your body that is edgy, uptight or taut from being too nervous thinking about how you will do in your presentation. Do not think too much though as it only adds unnecessary stress. Relax and your audience will relax along with you.
HOW TO ELIMINATE STUTTERING Some people lose confidence upon facing other people due to a speech problem known as stuttering. This is a severe condition in speech that experiences problems in fluency. Its symptoms include the person’s facial muscles becoming tensed as he or she tries to speak. This is very common to children who are just beginning to talk. Stuttering is a disfluency that causes them to repeat some of their words’ syllables. Although this is normal, the severity can cause concern for some parents.
This speech problem starts in the early childhood while they are at their developing stage and some would stutter at least ten to fifteen per cent of their total speech. Though, this does not affect one’s intellect, it affects one’s social state, especially when they begin to date and mingle with other people. It is for this reason that others would opt to be loners and just choose a career that does not involve meeting people. There are inconsistent degrees of stuttering. Some people do not stutter when they do other special skills like dancing or singing or even delivering a declamation piece. There are also those who do not stutter on good days but just start to stutter on other days. There are two important things that a stutterer should keep in mind when trying to communicate in order to prevent stuttering: 1. Thinking of all the things before starting to talk is helpful. This makes the person more sure of the words and things that will be coming out of his mouth. According to a recent study, people who have this speech defect are often more intelligent than those who are not. The only problem is that, since they think too fast at times, their mouth is left behind; thus, stuttering begins. The rhythm of their speech does not coincide on how they think. That is why thinking first is highly advisable. Begin with just trying to slow down when trying to talk. It must be how the head is thinking. Once this is practiced, speed of speech can be practiced to normal. 2. Say the words mentally first. Practicing what is about to be said is helpful prior to saying it out loud to others. This is called aural visualization, the same technique successful people are doing when they try to visualize their positive future and success even before it starts to happen. Literally, say the words and hear every single word in your mind before saying it loudly.
THE USE OF VOICE IN SPEECHES: To be an effective public speaker, you need to communicate well your speech to the audience. You have to get their attention every time you are speaking. It is important in public speaking that the audience hears and understands the topics you are pointing out. You have to know how to use your voice in public speaking. The use of voice may depend on the crowd who is listening. You should also consider the place or the venue where you are going to speak. Always remember that you have to deliver your message clearly to your audience. Always be confident when delivering your statements and all words must be pronounced correctly. You may speak with a provocative approach. In this way, you may build your credibility to your listeners. However, there are instances where you may experience some kind of fear or nervousness in public speaking. Sometimes you may experience anxiety when you stand up in front of an audience. You might even get awkward when speaking and tend to lower your voice. You may think to finish your speech much faster. Nervousness is normal, especially when you are speaking in front of a hostile audience. You have to continue and just let your anxiety go away. Make yourself comfortable so that your audience can be relaxed as well. Take the opportunity to impress your audience. You are the main attraction of the presentation. Audiences expect you to give them all the important insights and ideas. Your ideas can be unique enough to surprise your listeners, not knowing if they are satisfied with your public speaking. Some speakers tend to think that they will be judged badly and not all of your listeners will agree on what you are saying. Be in control of things and do not think that they do not get the point of what you are saying. Be comfortable so that you will not make mistakes and lose your course on the topic. You might get humiliated if you do not have the confidence and guts for standing in front of them. The spotlight is yours and you must be yourself. You have to establish your own personality so that your audience will like you. In this way, you can show that you are able interact with them. Public speaking is a challenging task. Nevertheless, if you have the personality and style a speaker must have, your audience will remember you and the things that you delivered to them. It is always a nice thing to hear claps and praises after your speech.
SPEAK YOUR MIND! For most people, the mere thought of speaking before an audience causes men’s hands to go clammy and their hearts to pound like a kettledrum. Statistics show that people fear public speaking more than they do their own deaths. It shows that for the majority, people would rather die in silence than take a chance to speak their minds in society. Maybe its conformity and a fear of saying something irrelevant. The importance in public speaking lies in the fact that as social organisms, the ability to get your message across in the right way will do more good for you than the attempt to do a better job. Hunkering down faithfully to work is virtually useless if the boss does not even notice it. The importance of public speaking is that it is inevitable. Sooner or later, you will be forced to enter the arena and speak to a sea of eyes and ears. Before that happens, it would always be better to meet that challenge on your terms. Here are some points to ponder: 1. Career. People at work who can communicate better go up the ladder faster. Employers prefer hiring people with public speaking and communication skills. This is because speaking with your colleagues puts them at ease about you, helps you get your job done faster, and gets what you want done across much more easier. 2. Mental. You feel better about yourself. Successfully speaking before a live, listening audience improves your self-confidence, poise, character and sense of fun. You become less self-conscious, nervous, and can control higher levels of stress. This does not mean you won’t make mistakes. Expect to make mistakes the first few times; learn from them, and keep on going. If you’re consistent, that paralyzing fear of speaking to a large audience will be a thing of the past. 3. Opportunities. Public speaking positively impacts all aspects of your life. Being able to speak publicly opens up new opportunities unimagined in your former life. You will find yourself more eager to participate in causes you sincerely believe in, interact more with people of the opposite sex. You will find yourself assertively asking questions to clear up a problem, take the lead in a cause, or calmly explain a thorny situation without losing it. The effect of public speaking on your life is exponential. Public speaking is an essential addition to the human repertoire. Technical knowledge is just as vital, but the ability to speak well takes your abilities and talents beyond the borders of your own skin and into the hearts and minds of others. Attended Christ the King Secondary school, Portharcourt,Nigeria Now currently a student of marketing, Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri Imo state. Both in Nigeria