Coexistence 302: Public Speaking

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Public speaking is the most extreme speaking skill

Public speaking skills crossover to many other circumstances

  • Job interviewing
  • Tense and difficult conversations
  • Conflicts with others
  • Product sales pitches
  • Convincing others of a cause you believe in

Great public speakers tap into a “brand” their personality can convey easily

  • They exude a general enthusiasm that brings out inspiring and identifiable traits in others

Everyone can publicly speak, but people are more often afraid of it than dying

  • Everyone is nervous about public speaking, but professional speakers learn how to manage the fear
    • Standing in front of dozens or hundreds of people who may reject you will guarantee discomfort
    • Nobody 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 paying near as much attention to the speaker as the message
    • A public speaker is a performer, and even a story about the speaker’s past is still a story separate from the speaker

The risks of public speaking are always worth it, even if you screw up horribly

Make your words grab the audience

Use strong adjectives and metaphors

  • Make historical or cultural comparisons
  • Compare and contrast to show differences and similarities
  • Avoid cliches and overused statements

Use humor or comedy

  • Allow a pause for laughter
  • If the joke wasn’t that great, keep speaking before silence sets in
  • Improvised comedy should 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
  • Most people won’t notice if you stumble with your words, so don’t apologize

Use a range of vocal variety throughout the story

  • Pay attention to how you speak and work to improve each portion
  • Your inflection will change the focus of what you are saying
    • Practice vocal exercises to improve your range of expression
  • Change the speed of your speech regularly
    • You should slow down on final points and permit pauses to let the idea sink in or allow a shift
    • Speed up to run through a plethora of information
  • Draw people in with softer words and hit them harder with louder ones
  • Your tone should feel and sound like a conversation with someone
  • Speak louder if you’re nervous and start getting hoarse

Use a common theme

  • Sprinkle a catch-phrase throughout the talk if you can to connect to the final takeaway idea
  • The speech is about the message and never about you, even when you’re speaking about yourself

Prepare what you want to say when you’re scheduled to speak

Start with a perspective

  • Look at your viewpoint and compare it to the audience

Brainstorm a message that resonates with your target audience

Express or imply the message in an unmistakable statement

Only talk on a subject relevant to the venue

  • You must find the topic interesting to connect it to your passion
  • The audience must find it interesting for them to recognize your passion
  • You must know plenty of information on the subject
  • Your conveyed information must be new to the audience
  • Include personal experience to make it enjoyable

Make the message as specific as possible

  • The more specific the speech, the more memorable it will be
  • The audience members should all be able to repeat the message after hearing the speech
  • Choosing a niche isn’t challenging since speakers rarely request speeches for specific subjects
    • Conveying a great story is more difficult when speaking broadly

Create the central idea

The central idea is usually the theme of the speech and is often in the speech title

  • Themes always contain a philosophical concept

A central idea isn’t necessary but is very useful

  • The central idea becomes a message
  • The central idea narrows the subject to a specific point
  • The central idea communicates clearly
  • The central idea helps the speaker make a beginning, middle, and end

A central idea needs a few elements

  • Central ideas are grammatically complete sentences
  • You can ask the central idea as a question if the speech can answer it
  • Make a catchy title, but only if the central idea supports it
  • For a general subject, the central idea clarifies an answer to it

Determine a definite and specific purpose for your speech

Great speeches only have five reasons for existing

  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

Analyze your audience

The simpler you can keep the story, the more it will universally resonate

You will lose a working-class crowd with sophisticated language

Watch for acronyms, idioms, and slang with an international crowd

Connect the story you’re giving to the local geographic area of the audience

Look at the demographics of your audience

  • The size of the audience (the more people, the more variety)
  • Gender mix
  • Age mix
  • Occupations
  • Educational level mix
  • Marital status mix
  • Race and ethnicity mix
  • Political views
  • Religious views
  • Organizational affiliations

You can only benefit from knowing the audience if you use what you learn

  1. Establish rapport with a shared thought, interest or feeling
  2. Put yourself in the listener’s place
  3. Adapt the materials to appeal to the audience
  4. Adapt your materials to the audience’s attitudes
    • Neutral audiences are rational, though not always entirely, and prefer appeals to reason over emotion
      • Groups like legislatures, committees, directors, and councils
      • Will listen to facts, statistics, and specific instances
      • Won’t care as much for anecdotes, hypothetical illustrations, and analogies
    • Friendly audiences want to hear the speech
      • Entertain, inspire, and inform them
      • To convince and persuade, help them believe or act as your purpose directs instead of trying to change their minds
      • Give them new reasons to do what they already want to do
    • Apathetic audiences are often captive to the speaker
      • Many clubs, churches, and lecture groups
      • Arouse attention from them at the start and keep their interest going with human-interest anecdotes and illustrations
      • They usually don’t care for facts, statistics, and proof
      • They might become a friendly audience by the end if you avoid responding to their negativity
    • Hostile audiences don’t want to listen to you
      • Avoid increasing hostility with strong arguments or emotionally charged appeals
      • Work off a common belief and only use proof that can translate into appeals for the audience
      • You may not win a point, but the audience might become less hostile
  5. Avoid alienating the audience
    • You may lose the audience with a reference or joke to race, religion or anything the audience holds valuable
    • Avoid insults, sarcasm, condescension, and insincere flattery
  6. Ethically adapt materials
    • Don’t fabricate or distort the truth
    • Never reason with the intent to deceive or express false intentions

Analyze the occasion

The occasion will determine the best mood and style 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 morning speeches
    • Time of year – adapt to national holidays, anniversaries, and annual meetings
      • Learn whether the date has any particular significance or if the speech has a special meaning for the audience
    • Time limit of the speech – any central idea can be revised to any time limit
  3. Place
    • Be brief if the audience is standing
    • Adapt to anything unusual
  4. Physical arrangements
    • Learn and adjust the microphone, platform, speaker’s stand, speaker’s place, acoustics, and lighting
    • Review and immediately adapt to the occasion
    • Step into the audience to be heard if the microphone fails
    • If the media fails, use anecdotes and stories to pass the time or carry on without it

Find and collect materials

Find 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 a point’s truth, either unquestioningly or by making it probable

Your speech will become far more seamless to adapt if you’re aware of the purpose of each of your verbal supports

  • To Clarify
    1. Illustration – a detailed example, which might be hypothetical or factual
      • Anecdote – a relatively brief narrative of a humorous, curious or noteworthy incident
        • Often biographical and usually possesses a human interest
        • Often involves the speaker’s personal experiences, but may include observing or participating in an activity
      • Description – one of the two
        1. Tells how parts of something fit into a whole
        2. Describes by appealing to the senses
    2. Comparison – pointing out similarities or differences between like objects or qualities
      1. Analogy – quick and concise comparison of how two things are similar
        • Literal analogies are extended comparisons meant to point to another similar thing
        • Figurative analogies compare dissimilar things 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 a whole into its parts
        • Analysis usually compares and contrasts with something else
    3. Explanation – To set forth or explicitly state the relationship between a whole and its components (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 the same idea a different point of view
    2. Repetition – using the same words again for emphasis
  • To Prove
    1. Factual Illustrations – detailed examples of a real event or fact as evidence of a conclusive or probable truth
    2. Statistics – numbers used to measure something
      • Present statistics 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 uses someone’s exact words
        • start with “Quote” or “I quote” and end with “Unquote” or “End of quote”

Learn where you can find and collect the supporting materials

Supporting materials can come from anywhere

  • Personal experiences – include illustrations, anecdotes, explanations, and specific instances
  • Interviews, questionnaires, and correspondences
    • If you need a statistic, ask a simple question to 25, 50 or 100 people
  • Library and internet resources
  • Encyclopedias, periodicals, newspapers, yearbooks/almanacs, and specialized reference books

Record your sources 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 one fact or two related facts on a card and use separate cards for each idea or associated 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. Appropriately title each card
  7. Be as specific and concrete as possible with facts, figures, and dates

Organize the materials into a general story outline with a beginning, middle, and end

A. The central idea – part of the introduction, should be 10% of the speech

  • The beginning starts with the audience first seeing you on stage for the first seven seconds
    • The first two seconds determine whether the audience wants to listen to you
    • Improve your physical appearance and health as much as possible
    • Dress at least as well as the best-dressed person in the audience
  • The audience gets the most impact from your first minute on stage
    • 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
    • Some openers are guaranteed to capture their attention
      • Start with a verb
      • Start with a story
      • Ask a series of questions that lead to the 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
    • Avoid a bad introduction
      • Indefinite or indecisive sounds or words
      • Apologetic in any way
      • Overused expressions of how honored you are to be there or flattery
      • Pompous or pretentious language
      • Inappropriate jokes or comments
        • Avoid jokes unless they are 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. Garner favorable attention
      • Avoid sensational tricks
      • Use a visual aid if you want, but make it the last thing you prepare it with
      • Show how the audience could profit or lose
      • Seek to arouse the audience’s curiosity
    3. Establish common grounds to promote goodwill, 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

B. The body – most of the time you’re speaking, 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 from a fear of losing their audience
      • The middle is the best time to share something open and heartfelt
    • Don’t let silence persist in the message unless you intentionally want it for dramatic effect
    • Only have 3-4 points, if you add more be prepared to throw them out if time catches up to you
  • Creates a logical or psychological order to flow your ideas together
    • 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 (five 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 a practical implementation of the solution
      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 describe how practice takes place
    • Ascending-descending order – most important first, then downward to least important
    • Descending-ascending order – least significant 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 specific instructions
    • ABC’s order – essentials of the thing, or elementary processes or principles, arranged in a logical order
    • Speaking a keyword or name order – creates an acronym that emphasizes main points
  • Organize the speech logically
    • Main points
      1. Write each main point 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

C. Conclusion – wrap up the ideas, should be 5% of the speech

  • The end of the story is always sharing one final idea
    • This message should leave the audience with something positive
    • The end is wrapping up the entire reason for people to sit through the speech
    • Memorize the end word-for-word, especially the last sentence, since it leaves a resonating effect on the audience
  • Don’t end inappropriately
    • Stopping awkwardly or saying “that’s all I have to say”
    • Apologizing at all
    • Saying “in conclusion” and saying a lot more
    • Leaving the audience in doubt about what you said or 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
  • You can end the speech in a variety of ways
    • Summarize the message
    • Quote someone to summarize what you’ve said in more familiar or authoritative words
    • Restate of the central idea
    • Give a personal reference or appeal about what you want, hope or think your audience understands your talk was
    • Share an anecdote that climaxes with the message
    • Give a rhetorical question that doesn’t call for an answer
    • Call for action, especially in persuasive speeches
    • Make a challenge to think or act
    • Open up for questions, if it’s appropriate

Effective public speaking uses dominant body language

Your body language tells a story alongside your words

  • Your body can interfere with your words if you’re not paying attention

Correct body language can deliver a highly memorable message

  • Your posture will show your attitude

Show enthusiasm and energy through your body

  • Enthusiasm comes from comfort and confidence, which involves expressing your genuine self
  • Don’t imitate another speaker
    • Each speaker’s style comes from their personality
    • Copy your feelings naturally to your body
    • Move freely and openly
  • The most boring presentation subjects can still be interesting from high energy acted out into the story

Distracting behaviors take away from your message

  • Don’t rock, sway or pace unintentionally
  • Try to avoid small nuanced behaviors
    • 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 how you feel
  • Public speaking requires connecting to the audience through facial expressions
  • Smile as often as the situation permits
  • Learn to control any distracting subconscious facial mannerisms or expressions

Practice gestures that illustrate your point

Gestures are effective at emphasizing what you say

  • Words have more emphasis and life to them
  • Gestures work as visual aids
  • Gestures also let the audience observe something visually entertaining
  • Gestures make ideas more dramatic by stimulating audience participation
  • Gestures also serve to release nervous energy

There are several 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 – indicate earnest conviction to a statement
    • 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 palms suggest giving or receiving
    • e.g., shrugging shoulders indicate ignorance, confusion or irony
  • Prompting Gestures – evokes a desired response from the audience
    • Shows an example of what the audience should do
    • e.g., applause or raising hands
  • Visual Cues – other things like slides or props
    • Visuals can make an enormous impact if utilized correctly but will distract the audience if mismanaged
      • Props can often distract more than help
    • The speech should be able to hold up without visual aids
    • Limit text slides to the 10-20-30 Rule to keep them concise
      • No more than ten slides, which you’ll run through relatively quickly
      • Never prepare for more than 20 minutes of speaking in a 1-hour block
        • Assume 25 minutes for setup and 15 minutes for questions
      • Use at least a 30 pt font
    • Keep your slides simple
      • Only use effects or transitions rarely
      • Make every slide match with the rest of the slides’ theme
      • Make anything relevant on the slides visually stand out within the first second of seeing it
      • Don’t use full sentences on the slides since the audience will stop listening to read them
        • Memorize your sentences and speak them
      • Everyone in the room should be able to see the presentation
    • Point directly to an object on the slide if you want the audience to focus on something specific
      • Overusing pointing will distract from your spoken message
    • Don’t give out copies of the presentation slides
      • They’ll read the presentation instead of observing you
      • Presentation slides converted to handouts are often tailored to a different medium and will make the slides more complicated
      • If you want to leave them with a document, prepare a dedicated handout for the end

How to effectively gesture

Respond naturally to what you feel, think and say

  • Our bodies are built to create the gestures we want, and we have to stop suppressing them

Create the conditions for gesturing, not the gesture

  • The gestures are natural and habitual, so foster an environment instead of forcing a movement

Suit the action to the word and occasion

  • The gestures should tie to the message

Make the gestures convincing

  • Make the movements vigorous, slow, and broad
  • Public speaking gestures use as much of the body as possible
    • Mind your limitations (hand microphone, podium microphone, boundaries of the stage)
  • Use open and expressive body languages like you’re performing

Time and polish the gestures to feel smooth and natural

  • Every gesture should appear natural through three areas
    • The Approach – the body prepares to move
    • The Stroke – the body moves
    • The Return – bringing the body back to a balanced posture

Keep eye contact with the crowd

Your eyes let the crowd know you’re talking to them

  • You can seem insincere without direct eye contact with the audience
  • Look across the audience if you’re too nervous to focus on any one person at a time

Using your eyes has many benefits

  • Eye contact creates a bond with your audience that can relieve stress for you and them
  • You can monitor others’ visual feedback and tailor your message’s tone

Prepare for the speech beforehand

A few days before the event

Plan how you want to deliver the speech

  • Reading the speech – great for plenty of information, but will bore the audience
    • If you read from a paper, look at the audience near the beginning and end since that’s the only time they will see you
  • Memorizing the speech – extremely difficult to do but worth memorizing if you need to deliver a verbatim idea
  • Speaking without prior preparation – only highly skilled speakers with many years of experience should risk this
    • Always have a “pocket speech” ready to pull out on any subject that someone will likely ask you to speak on
  • Speaking without reading or memorizing, but with a carefully prepared speech beforehand
    • An outlined speech captures the audience’s attention the most but is also easy to memorize

Create talking points to guide you through the speech

  • Break out the speech into five 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 unintentionally stifle body language
    • Understand the topic deeply
    • Understand the outcome you want from the audience

Record yourself and track how you can improve

  • If you find yourself hanging up on a point, use a body language cue or note to 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 in double-time
    • You should be able to recite the entire speech flawlessly while focusing on something else

If you’re using your computer for the presentation, create a separate account to avoid anything embarrassing or distracting from showing when you open it

  • Save a PowerPoint presentation as a PowerPoint Show (.ppsx) to open it directly to the slideshow

The day before the event

You don’t need a word-for-word speech, but you do need preparation for what you’ll say

  • A verbatim speech will be more stressful to speak
  • You won’t be speaking from a script since you will need to keep eye contact with the audience
  • Only work to memorize 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 use a dictating machine to listen to yourself

Relax and recreate the evening before the talk

Earlier on the day of the speech

Three hours before the speech, take a short walk to clear your mind

Drink liquid ninety minutes and thirty minutes before the speech, then go to the bathroom

Show up early to the event to allow time to get settled

Meet members of the audience, since knowing people in the audience as you present makes speaking easier

Drink water fifteen minutes before the event to avoid dry mouth

Right before you step on stage

Pose in private for two minutes with your feet spread apart and hands on your hips (“Wonder Woman pose”) to boost your confidence level

Practice a stress management routine

  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

Chew gum to relax

While standing comfortably, massage your throat and jaw to relieve any tightness

Remind yourself that everyone wants to hear you speak and that you can do it

Bring bottled water with you when you go up, and take a drink if you need to gather your thoughts

After the speech

Keep your answers short if you’ve opened up for questions

Arrange for a friend to ask a predetermined question to get the conversation started

Offer to discuss more in-depth questions later or to 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 is somewhat different from a typical speech

Get to the point as fast as possible

  • Skip formalities since a webinar is a public speech with questions

Don’t speak, read questions, and respond to a chat at the same time

  • Either answer the questions at the end, have a chat assistant help you or create an exercise for the audience for you to catch up
  • Make the presentation slides or recording available after the event for others who may not have attended the webinar
Next: Coexistence 303: How To Teach