September 6, 2006

Public Speaking: Skills, Tasks and Techniques

Despite what some people seem to believe, public speaking is a skill much like any other skill: the more you use it, the more you practice at it, the better you'll be. Fortunately, with today's improved technology and access to nearly unlimited quotes and quips from the World Wide Web, creating a powerful speech is something anyone can do. Only a little tougher is learning to deliver a powerful speech. It requires skill, confidence and charisma, all of which can be learned and polished as you go. With the following public speaking skills, tasks and techniques, you'll be well on your way to a successful speech or presentation. One that your audience will remember long after the event is over.

Public Speaking Skills…

There are skills, both inherent and acquired, that once mastered, can greatly enhance your public speaking ability. However, the breakdown of skills is wholly unique with every individual. Some seem to be born with an abundance of natural talent. Others have gained their skill and confidence thanks to years of diligent, dedicated practice. Regardless of which category you may fall under, here are a few skills that will vastly improve your public speaking performance.

  • Clear communication. Not only does this mean you should aim to speak clearly, as in enunciation and pronunciation - it also means you pay attention to the speed at which you talk, the words you choose and the grammar you employ.
  • Great research skills. If you plan to fulfill the role of a public speaker, it's important that you have solid, focused study and research skills. They'll enable you to save a great deal of time and use relevant, recent and accurate source materials.
  • Planning and organizational skills. Brilliance simply isn't enough. Neither is creativity. Both are great to have, but if you're lacking in the planning and organizational departments, you're more than likely just setting yourself up for failure. If you can't plan your time, you'll fall behind your research, composition and rehearsal goals. Without organization, you may say brilliant words but in a baffling manner that causes you to loose respect and face.
  • Good listening skills. Even though most of your time on the stage will be spent speaking, good listening skills are also vital to successful public speaking. Why? Because in the composition phase, you need to be ready to write for the ear, and not just for the eye. You have to listen for that perfect rhythm and cadence that make your speech smooth and engaging. You need to develop a skill in tools like alliteration, rhyme, puns and poetic prose. It's a skill that, if overlooked, can prevent you from taking your performances to the next level.

Public Speaking Tasks…

  • Brainstorming. It's essential that you have at least a basic ability to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas. There are many different methods of brainstorming out there. You can make lists, idea trees, creative visualization, random associations, mixing and matching different ideas and countless other forms of brainstorming.
  • Drafting and revision. Unless you hire someone else to craft your speech for you, you're going to have to draft and revise the content you create. This means you should have a good grasp of the written word, grammar, editing, and last minute touch ups and revisions.
  • Rehearsal. It takes a little effort and discipline to make sure that you schedule (and actually perform) practice runs and rehearsals. This part of the process is absolutely essential to delivering a clear and confident speech. There is no set answer as to how long you should spend rehearsing. You should just keep at it until you have a firm grasp on your content and confidence in your delivery.
  • Polishing. Another important task in the speech preparation process is polishing the final product. It means the content, the delivery, visual aids, and supplemental materials - everything that is a part of your speech. It requires attention to detail and a firm commitment to strive for excellence as opposed to mediocrity.

Public Speaking Techniques…

  • Creativity. Effective and successful public speakers realize that creativity is a must for excellence. You must be able to look at old things through new eyes, new things through the eyes of experience and an innate ability to take yourself from impossible to reality both confidently and consistently.
  • Excellence. We've already mentioned excellence quite a few times, but that's only because it's so very important. You must not grow complacent. You must constantly strive to achieve more, do it smarter or do it on demand. There is always room for improvement. Excellence recognizes this truth and aspires accordingly.
  • Dedication. No matter what challenges or obstacles you face, to succeed as a public speaker you mustn't ever give up. You need tenacity, faithfulness, patience and a thick skin. You have to remember that nothing is impossible and for every low there's an equal and opposite high. Don't loose faith! You will master this.
  • Integrity. Integrity means you strive to remain honest and true to your morals and principles. It means you check the facts, site your sources and resist the temptation to engage in a "little plagiarism". It means your audience can trust you to deliver the truth, and that they can safely rely on the information that you provide them with.
Speaking and Speeches Resources

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