Verbal behaviour refers to the words we speak. It is very important, in public speaking, to pay attention to the words you speak. Think carefully about the words before you speak them. Ask yourself “Is there a better way of saying this?” Listen to words others use that explain an idea better than you could have. Study the following explanations of the figures of speech that can make you “Speak vividly”.
- Alliteration is repeating the first letter or sound of words that are close together. “John is cool, calm and collected”.
- Antithesis is putting contrasting ideas together. See these examples:
a.“Man proposes, God disposes”, “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice”,
b.“Many are called, but few are chosen”.
- Hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration used for effect, as in the example in the prescribed book – nobody is really bigger than a house!
- Personification is to give something non-human characteristics. The constitution is not alive, but saying that it will “live forever” vividly conveys the speaker’s idea of permanence.
- A rhetorical question is one to which no answer is required. It is used for effect – for example, to attract the audience’s attention in the introduction to a speech.
This refers to how you sound when you deliver your speech – rather than with the words you use. It explains how and why volume, rate, pauses, pitch, articulation and pronunciation are important factors in the way your speech comes across to your listeners.
This section is concerned with nonverbal communication – what the audience sees (rather than what they hear) from the time you get up to make your speech until you sit down again. Remember that all nonverbal behaviour must complement rather than contradict your verbal message. Note the following nonverbal elements of public speaking:
- personal appearance
- body movements
- facial expression
- eye contact.
Overcoming Speech Apprehension
Communication or Speech apprehension is the fear associated with communicating with another person. According to research, 31 percent of school students experience some level of communication apprehension. A feeling of fear or nervousness experienced before a speech can actually give a competitive edge when the speaker comes to understand this and tackle the fears associated with public speaking. It is important not to try to eliminate fears associated with speaking – rather, it is helpful to take action to manage and control the anxiety.
These factors influence whether or not communication anxiety is present, and to what degree: the degree of evaluation, that is, what the subject perceives to be at stake, whether or not the subject feels subordinate to their audience, how conspicuous the subject feels, the degree of unpredictability in the situation, the degree of dissimilarity between the speaker and the audience; memories of prior failures or successes, and the presence or lack of communication skills are all factors impacting the degree of communication anxiety suffered in a given situation; also known as “stage fright.”
Dealing with Presentation Fears
Typically, fears of public speaking fall into two categories: fears about the audience (i.e. what if they don’t like me, they’ll have heard all this before, they’ll walk out, etc.) and fears about ourselves (i.e. I’ll forget what I have to say; I’ll freeze; I’ll make a mistake, etc.). It is helpful to develop strategies to be psychologically prepared for making a speech.
Planning the Design
Two vital aspects of successful public speaking are to define your purpose and to learn as much as you can about the audience.
Generally, work-related presentations fall into four different categories. When the purpose is to:
stimulate the audience, the presentation is geared toward reinforcing and intensifying feelings already present in the listener
inform the audience, the presentation provides data or information
persuade the audience, the speaker expresses a viewpoint and works to prove it
activate the audience, the presentation is geared towards asking the audience to take action.
The more you know about your audience, the more you can target your presentation to the specific group of people to whom you will be speaking. Try to find out about the audience before the presentation.
Remember that every good speech has an opening, a body, and a close. Some authorities on presentation skill suggest that for every one minute of speaking, one hour be spent preparing. And of course, part of preparation is the actual construction of the speech.
Your opening should be designed to grab the listeners’ attention, give your audience a reason for listening to the remainder of your speech, and smoothly lead into the body of your presentation. It is advisable to practise your opening until you have committed it to memory.
Research indicates that organized information is easier to understand and remember than unorganized information. Therefore, in constructing the body of a speech, it is important to identify the main points and organize them. There are different ways to organize information, including chronologically, categorically, by cause and effect, and by problem and solution. Main points must be stated, supported, and restated.
The closing must be the logical conclusion of your opening and overall purpose. It should be stimulating, memorable, and well planned. Memorization of the closing is very important to bring together the contents of the speech in a compelling way.
Source:National Open University of Nigeria