Coexistence 302: Public Speaking

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Public speaking is simply the most extreme speaking skill

  • There are many skills that public speaking skills will naturally apply to
    • Job interviewing
    • Tense and difficult conversations
    • Conflicts with others
    • A product sales pitch
    • Convincing others of an idea you deeply value
  • Everyone can publicly speak, but more people are afraid of it than dying
    • This fear is natural, but needs to be dealt with in order to effectively publicly speak
  • Great public speakers simply tap into a “brand” that their personality can convey easily
    • This exudes as a general positivity that gives something inspiring and identifiable in others
  • Everyone gets nervous with public speaking
    • Nobody who is mentally well can be fully comfortable in front of dozens or hundreds of people who coul potentially reject them
    • Though everyone gets nervous in a public speech, nobody actually knows you’re nervous until you show it
    • Great public speakers learn how to channel their nervous energy into:
      • Effective body language
      • Projecting their voice well
      • Focusing on their tone of voice
    • Nobody is actually paying attention to the speaker, they are simply paying attention to the message
      • A public speaker is a performer, and even if it’s a story about the speaker’s own past it’s still a story that is separate from them
  • The risk of public speaking is absolutely worth it, even if you screw up horribly

Make the words you say jump out at the audience

  • Use strong adjectives and metaphors
    • Use historical or cultural comparisons
    • Use comparisons and contrasts to show differences and similarities
    • Avoid cliches and overused statements
  • Use humor or comedy, and allow a pause for laughter
    • Sometimes the joke won’t be that great, keep speaking before silence sets in
    • Improvised comedy will come naturally
  • Insert quotes into the speech that match what you want to say
  • Speak with confidence
    • Talk clearly and slowly
    • Use silence to pause for effect, and hold it long enough to make it dramatic
    • If you stumble with your words, don’t apologize
      • Most people don’t notice most stumbling anyway
  • Use a lot of vocal variety throughout the story
    • Pay attention to the different parts of how you speak and work to improve them
    • Observe your inflection, since it changes the focus of what you are saying
      • Practice vocal exercises to improve your capacity for speaking well
    • Change the speed of your speech regularly
      • The speed should slow down on the final points and permit pauses to let the idea sink in to allow a shift
      • Speed up speaking when there is a lot of information to run through
    • Draw people in with softer words, and hit them harder with louder ones
    • The tone of the speech should feel and sound like you’re having a conversation with someone
    • If you’re nervous and start getting hoarse, speak louder
  • Use a common theme
    • Sprinkle a catch-phrase throughout the talk if you can, which will connect to the final take-away idea
    • The speech is never about you, it’s about the message, even if it’s a message about you

When you are first given the opportunity to speak, prepare what you want to say

  1. Start with a perspective
    • Look at your own perspective and compare it to the audience’s
  2. Brainstorm a message that resonates with your target audience
    • This message should be expressed or implied in an unmistakable statement
    • The subject must be relevant to talk on it
      • It must be interesting to you to allow your passion to show on it
      • It must be interesting to the audience for them to receive your passion
      • You must know a significant amount of information on it
      • The information you’re sharing must be new information to the audience
      • Include your own personal experience to make it enjoyable
    • Make the message as specific as possible
      • After hearing the speech, the audience members should all be able to repeat the message
      • The more specific the speech, the more memorable it will be
      • People are rarely asked to speak on specific things, so it’s not hard to narrow down ideas
        • As tempting as it may be to speak more broadly, it makes it harder to convey a great story
  3. Create the central idea
    • The central idea is usually the theme of the speech, and will often be in the speech title
      • Themes will always contain a philosophical concept
      • A central idea isn’t necessary, but is very useful
        • The central idea becomes a message
        • The central narrows the subject to a definite point
        • The central idea communicates clearly
        • The central idea helps the speaker make a beginning, middle and end
      • A central idea has to have a few elements
        • It’s grammatically a complete sentence
        • It can be asked in the form of a question if its answer is answered by the speech
        • The title can be catchy, but only if the central idea supports it
        • For a general subject topic, the central idea is a clarifying answer to that subject
  4. Determine the specific purpose of your speech, which should be extremely specific
    • There are 5 general purposes for a speech, and a good speech has a specific dominant one
      1. To inform – gives clear understanding, explanation or knowledge
      2. To entertain – will bring amusement, enjoyment and laughter
      3. To inspire – animating or exalting the human spirit, or arousing emotions
      4. To convince – will trigger change, alter beliefs or strengthen beliefs
      5. To persuade – will bring a belief through argument and reason
  5. Analyze your audience
    • Pay attention to your audience
      • Sophisticated language will be lost on a working-class crowd
      • If you’re speaking to an international audience watch for acronyms, idioms and slang
      • Try to connect the story you’re giving to the local area the audience is in
      • Generally, the more simple you can keep it the better
    • There are many demographic breakdowns to look at who you’ll be speaking to
      • The size of the audience, since the larger the more variety it might be
      • Mix of genders
      • Mix of ages
      • Occupations of the audience
      • Mix of educational levels
      • Mix of marital statuses
      • Mix of races and ethnicities
      • Mix of political views
      • Mix of religious views
      • Organizational affiliations
    • Knowing the audience only helps if the information is used
      1. Establish rapport through a common thought, interest or feeling
      2. Put yourself in the listener’s place
      3. Adapt the materials to appeal to the audience
      4. Adapt the materials to the attitudes of the audience
        • Neutral audiences are rational, though not always fully rational, and prefer appeals to reason over emotion
          • Groups like legislatures, committees, directors, councils
          • Will listen to facts, statistics, specific instances
          • Won’t listen as much to anecdotes, hypothetical illustrations, analogies
        • Friendly audiences are interested in the speech and want to hear about it
          • Entertain, inspire and inform them
          • Convincing and persuading them is about them believing or acting as your purpose directs than changing their minds
          • Give them new reasons to do what they already want to do
        • Apathetic audiences are often captive to the speaker
          • This includes many clubs, churches and lecture groups
          • Arouse attention from them at the start and keep their interest going with human-interest anecdotes and illustrations
          • Facts, statistics and proof are often useless to them
          • Avoid becoming hostile, since they might become a friendly audience by the end
        • Hostile audiences don’t want to hear the ideas
          • Avoid using strong argument or appeals charged with emotions to avoid increasing hostility
          • Find a common agreement to work off of and only use proof that can be translated into appeals for the audience
            • It might not win a point, but it might reduce the audience’s hostility
      5. Avoid alienating the audience
        • One bad reference or joke to race, religion or anything else the audience holds valuable may lose the audience
        • Avoid insults, sarcasm, condescension and insincere flattery
      6. Ethically adapt materials
        • Don’t fabricate or distort the truth
        • Don’t reason with the intent to deceive or express false intentions
  6. Analyze the occasion, which will determine the mood and style you need to communicate with
    • Adapt to the circumstances
      1. The purpose of the gathering
      2. Time
        • Time of day – the best possible is evening, so shorten it if it’s morning
        • Time of year – adapt to national holidays, anniversaries, annual meetings, etc
          • Find out if the date has any special significance and whether the speech is expected to have special meaning in respect to the audience
        • Time limit of the speech – any central idea can be revised to any time limit
      3. Place
        • Be more brief if the audience is standing
        • Adapt to anything unusual
      4. Physical arrangements
        • Learn about the microphone, platform, speaker’s stand, speaker’s place, acoustics, lighting, etc, and adjust as needed
        • Review all the circumstances, and adapt immediately if the occasion changes
        • If the microphone fails, step into the audience to be heard
        • If the media fails, use anecdotes and stories to pass the time or find a way to carry on without it
  7. Find and collect materials
    1. Find the verbal supports of the central idea
      1. Verbal supports must clarify the central idea or any point inside it
      2. Verbal supports must strengthen or reinforce a point through repetition and restatement
      3. Verbal supports must prove the truth of a point, either unquestioningly or makes it probable
    2. All verbal supports are one of the following, and it helps tremendously to know which one each is
      • To Clarify
        1. Illustration – a detailed example, which might be hypothetical or factual
          1. Anecdote – a relatively brief narrative of an incident that is humorous, curious or interesting
            • Often biographical and usually possesses a human interest
            • Often involves the speaker’s personal experiences, but may involve observation or participation in an activity
          2. Description – one of the two
            1. Tells how the parts of something fit the whole of it
            2. Describes it by appealing to the senses
        2. Comparison – pointing out of similarities or differences between like objects or qualities
          1. Analogy – quick and concise comparison of the similarity between two things
            • Literal analogies are extended comparisons of something meant to point to another similar thing
            • Figurative analogies compare things that aren’t alike but resemble each other in one of two ways
              1. Expression of a likeness between the two
              2. Extended statement showing the similarities
          2. Analysis – breaking up of a whole into its component parts
            • This usually also compares and contrasts with something else
        3. Explanation – to make plain or to set forth the relation between a whole and its parts (i.e. What is it?)
          1. Make a general statement of the whole of something
          2. Tell how the parts fit the whole of it
          3. Tell how it differs from everything else in the universe
          4. Defines by giving an official or authoritative meaning of a word, term or concept
      • To Reinforce
        1. Restatement – saying things in another way to give a different point of view to the same idea
        2. Repetition – saying the same words again for emphasis
      • To Prove
        1. Factual Illustrations – detailed example of an actual happening or fact offered as evidence of conclusive or probable truth
        2. Statistics – numbers used to measure something
          • These must be presented in a concrete and vivid manner
        3. Specific Instances – a concise statement of an example offered as one incident used as evidence
          • almost anything to be proved, barring statistical points, must use a specific instance
        4. Testimony or Quotation
          • Testimony is anyone’s actual statement, but from someone with authority on the matter
          • Quotation is words quoted, irrespective of whom
            • start with “Quote” or “I quote” and end with “Unquote” or “End of quote”
    3. Know where the supporting materials may be found and collected
      • These supporting materials can come from all over
        • Personal experiences – includes illustrations, anecdotes, explanations, specific instances
        • Interviews, questionnaires, correspondences
          • If you need a statistic, simply ask 25, 50 or 100 people a simple question
        • Library and Internet resources
        • Encyclopedias, periodicals, newspapers, yearbooks/almanacs, specialized reference books
      • Record these in notes and on note cards for reference
        1. Use 3×5 or 4×6 cards
        2. Upper left corner – write the name of the author, book or articles and page #
        3. Summarize only 1 fact or 2 related facts on a card, and use separate cards for each idea or related ideas
        4. Paraphrase the idea if you’re not quoting it
        5. Copy the material word for word in quotation marks if you intend to quote it
        6. Head each card appropriately
        7. Be specific and concrete with facts, figures and dates more than generalities
  8. Organize the materials into a general outlined story with a beginning, middle and end
    1. The central idea – part of the introduction, should be 10% of the speech
      • The beginning actually starts with the audience first seeing you on stage for the first 7 seconds
        • The first 2 seconds will determine if the audience wants to listen to you or not
        • Work on improving your physical appearance and health in any way possible
        • Be well-dressed, at least as well as the best-dressed person in the audience
      • The first minute on stage will give the most impact to the audience
        • Pause before you start to build drama for your opener
        • Your opener will determine how excited and interested people are
          • It needs to be different than what they are expecting
        • There are some good openers that are proven to capture others’ attention
          • Start with a verb
          • Start with a story
          • Ask a series of questions that have the exact same answer
          • Start with a shocking statistic that gets people disrupted
          • Ask a question that makes the listener want to hear what you are going to tell them
        • DON’T make a bad introduction
          • Indefinite or indecisive sounds or words
          • Apologetic in any way
          • Overused expressions of how honored you are to be here or flattery
          • Pompous or pretentious language
          • Inappropriate jokes or inappropriate comments
            • For that matter, avoid jokes unless it is specifically relevant to the speech
      • Guide the introduction through a purposed set of rules
        1. Observe formalities by referencing the previous speaker or the occasion
        2. Get favorable attention
          • Avoid sensational tricks
          • Use a visual aide if you want, but make it the last thing you prepare it with
          • Show how the audience can profit or how they can be harmed
          • Seek to arouse the audience’s curiosity
        3. Establish common grounds to promote good will, especially with hostile or apathetic audiences
        4. Win respect through reputation, standing or esteem
          • Establish with sincerity and modesty
          • Avoid any attitude that implies superiority
        5. Pave the way for the body of the speech
    2. The body – most of the time taken, should be 85% of the speech
      • The middle of the speech should include something personable
        • Share your failings openly and go easy on your successes
          • Some people are terrified to use the middle of the story out of a fear of losing their audience
          • This is the best opportunity to share something open and heartfelt
        • Don’t let silence persist in the message unless you intentionally want silence for dramatic effect
        • Only have 3-4 points, if you add more be ready to throw them out if time catches up to you
      • It needs a pattern of organization that creates a logical or psychological order
        • Chronological or time order – yesterday, today, tomorrow or past, present, future
        • Space order – top, middle, bottom or east, west, north, south
        • Topical order – according to the logical or natural divisions of the subject
        • Classification order – groups that it’s made of or used for
        • Cause-effect order
        • Monroe’s motivated sequence – 5 steps:
          1. Attention – gains favorable attention
          2. Need – state the need that needs improvement
          3. Satisfaction – show how the speaker’s suggested solution satisfies the need
          4. Visualization – vividly describe the solution as it works in action
          5. Action – say what the audience can do
        • Problem-solution order – first explain the problem, then state the solution
        • Theory-practice – first tell the theory, then explain the practice used
        • Ascending-descending order – most important first, then downward to least important
        • Descending-ascending order – least important first, then upward to most important
        • Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? order – answer all or most of the questions
        • Extended analogy order – entire speech is an extended analogy
        • Stop, look, listen order – gives certain instructions
        • ABC’s order – essentials of the thing, or elementary processes or principles, are arranged in a logical order
        • Speaking a key word or name order – creates an acronym that emphasizes key points
      • Organize the speech in a logical way
        • Main points
          1. Each main point should be written as a brief sentence
          2. Use 2-5 main points, no more or less, the audience can’t follow more than that
          3. Write parallel sentences, not phrases or incomplete ones
          4. Flow each main point as a step in developing the central idea
        • Subordinate points
          • give more detailed development and support of the main point and central idea
        • Verbal supports
          • give sufficient verbal supports for each subordinate point
        • Transitions
          • Create words, phrases and sentences to link together the main and subordinate points and verbal supports
          • Any words can work, but avoid “and”, “and so”, “uh” and anything else that is overused or odd
    3. Conclusion – wraps up the ideas, should be 5% of the speech
      • The end of the story is always about sharing one ultimate idea
        • This message should usually be positive, since it’s what you’re leaving the audience with
        • The end is wrapping up the entire reason for people to sit through the speech
        • This should be memorized word-for-word, especially the last sentence, since it leaves the resonating effect on the audience
      • DON’T do these:
        • Leaving the audience in the air by simply stopping or saying “that’s all I have to say”
        • Being apologetic in any way
        • Saying “in conclusion” and saying a lot more
        • Leaving the audience in doubt about what was said or what is being asked of them
        • Having no conclusion by saying “the speech could go on and on, and I leave the conclusion to you”
      • Conclusions should have positive purposes to leave a good effect, and there are many ways to end the speech
        • Summarize the message
        • Quote someone to summarize what you’ve said in more familiar or authoritative words
        • Restatement of the central idea
        • Personal reference or appeal about what you personally want, hope or think your audience’s understanding of your talk has been
        • Anecdote that climaxes the message
        • Rhetorical question that doesn’t call for an answer
        • Call for action, especially in persuasive speeches
        • Challenge to think or act
        • Open up for questions, if it’s appropriate

A large part of effective public speaking is tied to body language

  • Besides the words you say, your body language is also telling a story
    • If you’re not paying attention, your body can interfere with your words
    • With the correct body language, you will deliver a message that everyone will remember
      • Your posture will show your attitude
      • Show enthusiasm and energy through your body
        • Enthusiasm comes through comfort and confidence, which involves expressing your own self
          • Don’t try to imitate another speaker, since their style is based on their personality
          • Let your body naturally copy your feelings
          • Move freely and openly
        • With energy invested into your story, the most boring presentations can still be interesting from you acting out what you feel at the moment
  • Try to remove distracting behaviors, since they take away from your message
    • Don’t rock, sway or pace without intention behind it
    • Try to stay away from smaller actions
      • Gripping or leaning on the podium
      • Biting or licking lips
      • Tapping fingers
      • Playing with something in pockets
      • Frowning
      • Adjusting hair or clothing
      • Turning head or eyes rhythmically from side to side
  • Pay attention to your face
    • Everyone looks at your face to track the feeling you’re using to convey
      • Public speaking requires connecting to the audience through facial expressions
      • Smile as often as the situation permits
    • You will probably have distracting facial mannerisms or unconscious expressions that you should learn to control
  • Practice using gestures to illustrate your point
    • Gestures are very useful to emphasize
      • They clarify and support the words you are saying
        • The words have more emphasis and life to them
        • They work as highly visible visual aids
        • It gives the audience something more entertaining to observe than you simply speaking
      • The ideas can be more dramatic
        • It stimulates audience participation
      • It’s great to let out nervous tension
    • There are a few types of gestures
      • Descriptive Gestures – clarifies or enhances a verbal message
        • Helps the audience understand comparisons
        • Visualizes size, shape, movement, location, function and numbers
      • Emphatic Gestures – give emphasis to what is being said
        • Indicates earnest conviction
        • e.g. clenched fist implies a strong feeling like anger or determination
      • Suggestive Gestures –  symbols of ideas and emotions
        • Helps the speaker create a desired mood or express a specific thought
        • e.g. open palm suggests giving or receiving
        • e.g. shrugging shoulders suggests ignorance, confusion or irony
      • Prompting Gestures – evokes a desired response from the audience
        • Does actions as an example, such as applause or raising hands
      • Visual Cues – other things like slides or props
        • If done correctly, the visuals make a huge impact, but if done improperly it will distract the audience
          • Use props carefully, since they can often distract more than help
        • The cues should accent the speech, to where the speech can hold up without the visual aides
        • Keep your text slides to the 10-20-30 Rule
          • No more than 10 slides
          • Never prepare for more than 20 minutes of speaking in a 1-hour block
          • Size is always larger, at least 30 pt font
          • It gives 25 minutes for setup and 15 minutes for questions
          • This makes the slides very concise and you’ll run through them quickly
        • Keep your slides simple
          • Rarely use effects or transitions
          • Make every slide match with the theme of the other slides
          • Use visuals on the slides to make anything important stand out in the first 1 second of looking at it
          • Don’t use full sentences on the slides, since the audience will stop listening to you to read it
            • Memorize your sentences and speak them if you need to convey the idea
          • The presentation should be legible to everyone in the room
        • Point directly to an object on the slide if there’s something specific you want the audience to focus on
          • When pointing, don’t overuse it, since it will distract from the message you’re speaking
        • Don’t give out copies of the presentation
          • It will distract from the speech, since they’ll be reading it
          • When the slides become a handout, they often become tailored to being handouts, making the slides more complex
          • Instead, prepare a dedicated handout for the audience if you want them to have something
    • How to show gestures effectively
      1. Respond naturally to what you feel, think and say
        • Our bodies are already built to create the gestures we want to use, and all we have to do is stop suppressing it
      2. Create the conditions for gesturing, not the gesture
        • Since the gestures are natural and habitual, this is about fostering more than forcing
      3. Make the action suitable to the word being used and the occasion
        • The gestures are meant to tie together with the message
      4. Make the gestures convincing
        • The actions should be vigorous, slow and broad
        • Great gestures use as much of the body as possible
          • Keep your limitations in mind (hand microphone, podium microphone)
      5. Polish the gestures to be smooth and timed well
        • Every gesture has 3 parts that should appear completely natural
          • The Approach – body prepares to move
          • The Stroke – body moves
          • The Return – brings body back to balanced posture
  • Keep eye contact with the crowd
    • Your eyes are what make the crowd know that you are talking to them
    • By not making direct eye contact with people, you can seem insincere
    • An easy way to not keep eye contact if you’re nervous is to look across the audience
    • There are many benefits to using your eyes
      • Eye contact establishes a shared bond with your audience, which can actually relieve stress
      • You can monitor visual feedback from people and tailor your message’s tone
  • Use open and expressive body languages like you’re performing

Prepare for the speech before you perform it

  • A few days before the event
    • Plan how you want to deliver the speech
      • Reading the speech – great for lots of information, but will bore the audience
        • If you’re reading from a paper, look at the audience near the beginning and end, since that’s where they’re actually looking at you
      • Memorizing the speech – extremely difficult to do, but worth it if it’s exceedingly important to communicate
      • Speaking without prior preparation – risky, and often only for highly skilled speakers with many years of experience
        • To avoid this, always have a “pocket speech” ready to pull out on any subject that you’ll likely be asked to speak on
      • Speaking without reading or memorizing the speech, but speaking after carefully preparing the speech beforehand
        • This one is the best for presenting, since it captures the audience’s attention the most and is easiest to memorize
    • Create talking points that will guide you through the speech
      • There will be 5 main parts
        1. Title of the speech
        2. Introduction
        3. Central idea
        4. Body of the speech
        5. Conclusion
      • Don’t memorize it word-for-word, since it’s impossible to remember under stress and you’ll stifle body language unintentionally
        • Understand the topic deeply
        • Understand the desired outcome from the audience
    • Record yourself and track how you can improve
      • If you find yourself hanging up on a point, create a body language cue or note that can bring you back on point
      • If you intend to memorize it perfectly
        • You should be able to speak ahead of a recording of yourself played back on double-time
        • You should be able to speak the entire speech flawlessly while doing something else that requires attention
    • If you’re using your computer for the presentation, create a separate account for the presentation to avoid anything embarrassing or distracting from showing when you open it up
  • The day before the event
    • You don’t need a word-for-word speech, but you do need be prepared with what you’re going to say
      • A verbatim speech will be more stressful to speak
      • Your speech won’t be from a script, since you will need to keep eyes on the audience to keep them interested
      • The only things worth memorizing are the opening and closing
      • Most of the preparation will be to learn how you are doing on time and the way you say words
    • Rehearse with someone else, and consider using a dictating machine to listen to yourself
    • Relax on the evening before the talk
  • Earlier in the day
    • Take a short walk away from everything 3 hours prior to it
    • Drink liquid 90 minutes and 30 minutes before the speech, then go to the bathroom
    • Show up early to the event to allow yourself time to get settled
    • Meet members of the audience, it helps to know people in the audience as you present
    • Drink water 15 minutes before the event to avoid dry mouth
  • Right before you go up
    • Pose in private for 2 minutes with your feet spread apart and hands on your hips, it’s been scientifically proven to boost confidence
    • Do a stress management exercise
      1. Take a deep breath through your nose all the way in
      2. Raise your shoulders as high as you can
      3. Drop your chin to your chest
    • Keep breathing normally as the stress hits
    • Keep the two most important parts of your message in your memory
      1. Opening statement(s)
      2. Concluding statement
    • While standing comfortably, massage your throat and jaw to relieve any tightness
    • Remember that everyone wants to hear you speak, and that you can do it
    • Bring bottled water with you when you go up, and if you need a few moments to gather your thoughts take a drink
  • After the speech
    • If you’ve opened up for questions, keep your answers short
      • Have a friend ask you a predetermined question to show your expertise and start the trend of people asking
      • If someone has a deeper question, offer to discuss later or send information to them
    • Ignore your mistakes
      • Learn from them and move on, nobody paid attention to them as much as you did

A webinar has a few tweaks to the public speaking formula

  • Get to the point as fast as possible
    • There’s no need for formalities, a webinar is a public speech with questions involved
  • You can’t speak, read questions and respond in chat at once
    • Either answer the questions at the end, or have a chat assistant help you
  • Make the speech slides or recording available after the event to allow others to consume it
Next: Coexistence 303: How To Teach