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KISS: Keep It Simple Speaker
by Ramendra Kumar

Effective Oratory - II

In the last update I touched upon the Science of effective oratory. In this update I’ll discuss the Art of Public Speaking.

KISS : Keep it Simple Speaker

The vocabulary should be simple and effective. Remember it is far easier to use difficult words than to write or speak in an simple, unpretentious manner. Hence if you want to write effectively improve your vocabulary. You can do that by reading books on a wide variety of subjects. There are also several books which are available that can help you improve your word power. These books help you enhance your vocabulary by explaining about word origins, roots, stories behind words etc.

Besides, make your dictionary and thesaurus your trusted friends. Dip into them, whenever you come across a new word. Believe me you will soon start enjoying this hunt for words and meanings.

Now coming back to your speech don’t use words which are too bombastic. For instance in a recent article published in Readers Digest several examples were given to illustrate how foolish bombastic words can sound. For instance : Can you guess what this means – ‘Emanating from a culinary vessel into a site of pyrogenic activity’. It simply is a round about way of saying - Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Secondly never try to cram your speech. The tendency for most participants in a debate or elocution competition is to just mug up each and every word and then go and vomit everything out. And God forbid if they forget a phrase or even a word then everything goes blank. I have myself faced this situation a couple of times so I know how embarrassing it can be.

Write your speech in your own words. Even if you take the help of your teachers or parents make sure the final speech is in a language you are comfortable with. This way you won’t have to grope for words.

Enjoy Yourself

If you want to be a good debater you have to have a good vocabulary, you should be widely read and you should have confidence in yourself. But most important you should enjoy going on the dais and speaking. When you go on the dais and look at the large crowd what is the feeling you have? Do you feel a strange kind of power, a hold on the listeners? Do you feel thrilled that for the next five minutes you have a captive audience that is waiting, willing and wanting to listen to you? If your answer is yes than debating is certainly your cup of tea.

If you have decided to take debating seriously keep the following pointers in mind while giving your speech:

Eye Contact

Move your eyes across the length and breadth of the hall. Many times it happens that the speakers avoid looking at the audience and instead look at the fan, outside the window, at the floor and practically every where else except where they should actually be looking. The audience feels alienated and switches off.

Battling the butterflies

Most speakers feel nervous especially during the beginning of the speech – they sense the all too familiar butterflies doing a tango in their stomachs. There is a solution for that. When you feel nervous search for a friendly face in the crowd and fixing your eyes on him or her start your speech. Then quickly look for a few more friendly faces across the audience and let your eyes address them. You are sure to get some positive response from them such as a friendly nod or a smile which will ease your nervousness. Once your butterflies have flown away let your gaze sweep across the audience and get ready to sweep them off their feet with your oratorical brilliance!!

Delivery

The delivery of the speech is as important if not more than the content. Make sure you modulate your voice properly. Many of speakers tend to speak in staccato sentences or drone away monotonously. Then they are others who raise their voices. Clearly they believe in the dictum that if you can’t beat ‘em shout (at) ‘em!

Learning the right way to modulate your voice needs a lot of practice. Deliver your speech in front of your parents, teachers and friends and ask for their feedback. Practice speaking in front of a mirror. Tape your speech and listen to it. All these will help you iron out the wrinkles in your modulation.

Accent is another area where many debaters flounder. Speak in your natural accent. Even if it doesn’t sound like queen’s English doesn’t matter. You can always strive for improvement. But never put on an accent. It sounds terribly artificial and distracts the audience from your speech.

Make sure your posture is also your natural one. The audience will see through an artificial stance sooner or later.

Remember, the audience is your customer and you the product. It is going to view you as a complete package. Every aspect of your speech, your style, your personality and your attitude is going to make an impact. So don’t discard any aspect thinking it is trivial. One never knows that facet itself may prove vital.

Recipe

I would like to emphasize one point. If you want to excel in public speaking you should be prepared to work with a lot of patience and focus. Demosthenes used to lisp. To improve his speech he would put pebbles in his mouth and walking along the beach practice his speech during the night for hours on end. The roar of the waves, the pebbles in his mouth and an indomitable will to win, made him one of the greatest orators of all ages.

In the November issue of Children’s World the Editor Ms. Navin Menon, cites the case of Nani Palkhivala, the eminent lawyer and champion of Human Rights as an example of what extreme resolve can achieve. As a child young Palkhivala stammered very badly. One day when he was eleven he was so frustrated that he went and gave his name for an extempore elocution competition. His determination not only earned him a standing ovation but he grew up to become an outstanding orator.

Dale Carnegie, the hugely successful motivational writer says, “The ability to conquer nervousness and speak with self confidence is not a gift bestowed by providence on only a few rarely endowed individuals. Every one can develop his own latent capacity if he has sufficient desire to do do.”

So friends, you have it in you to sizzle on the debating circuit. To help you do that I present before you a recipe for effective public speaking:

Take a speech with an impressive content, mix it with a good vocabulary, add a sprinkle of humor, stir it in your own words, add it to your memory, warm it on the hot plate of commitment and serve it with the correct amount of confidence, modulation, accent and yes Attitude. And then wait for the applause to follow.......

Image under License with Gettyimages.com

26-Mar-2006
 
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