Throughout this lecture course we have seen the importance of creating an image. Image that can influence emotion and create position. This lecture is concerned with the creation of image through public speaking. We have seen in this course and are probably familiar with image makers or effective public speakers. Yet what does make a presentation effective. As you will recall, the power of speech was recognized early on by the Greeks and provided much of the basis for their concept of democracy.
Reconsider the dialogue quoted below between Socrates and Gorgias in regard to the nature of rhetoric.
"GORGIAS, I mean, Socrates, what is in actual truth the greatest blessing, which confers on every one who possesses it not only freedom for himself but also the power of ruling his fellow-countrymen.
SOCRATES What do you mean by that?
GORGIAS, I mean the ability to convince by means of speech a jury in a court of justice, members of the Council in the Chamber, voters at a meeting of the Assembly, and any other gathering of citizens whatever it may be. By the exercise of this ability you will have the doctor and the trainer as your slaves, and your man of business will turn out to be making money not for himself but for another; for you, in fact, who have the ability to speak and to convince the masses.
SOCRATES, Now, Gorgias, I think that you have defined with great precision what you take the art of oratory to be, and, if I understand you aright, you are saying that oratory is productive of conviction, and that this is the be-all and end-all of its whole activity. Or have you some further power to ascribe to oratory beyond that of producing conviction in the souls of its hearers?
GORGIAS, No, Socrates; the definition which you have given seems to be quite adequate; that is the main point about oratory."
Effective speaking is crucial for all who wish to convince an audience of their purpose; from the politician to the teacher, from the business person presenting a report to the community leader.
Preparing a Speech
At an early stage, even on receiving an invitation to speak, it is important to clarify with the organizer of the event what their objectives are.They may have a very different set of priorities. Their expectations may be very different to your own or that of the audience. It may prove beneficial to read any literature on the event that you shall be speaking at, this will give useful information on the organizers themselves and the potential audience.
Organizers of events often provider a speaker with a topic, or lecture title.
Seldom will they be aware of the content of a presentation.
Speak to other presenters to avoid overlapping.
The use of a microphone in a presentation can be as problematic as it is useful.
Often it can restrict your movement on the stage.
The room that you will be speaking in will influence your presentation and your relationship with the audience.
Check the size of the room you will be using and ascertain whether the lighting, seating arrangements and acoustics are acceptable.
Research Your Audience
To whom you are talking will influence your style of speech and the image that you want to create. It is important to discover before you write your speech;who am I talking to, their age and the size of audience. The more information about the people you will be addressing the better. Do you know what is their background? What are their expectations? Are they their voluntarily or is their presence compulsory? The key question to consider is: What is the best approach that will suit the audience?
Devise Your Presentation
The first question to ask yourself when writing a speech is whether you are interesting? Or put simply would I like to be in the audience listening to myself. Define your purpose, what should be different at the end of my presentation, try to summarize it in one line.
An initial image is a long term image. Consider how you can you grab attention at the beginning of your speech? You may wish to use a prop, a personal story or ask your audience a question. The order of your speech, its internal organization is another crucial factor. Your presentation should have three essential qualities: interest information and involvement. Interest can be quaranteed by the use of stories, personal examples, humor.
In the life of a public speaker you can never be surprised by the unexpected. Time allocation is often a source of problems. You arrive to present your speech and you are told you have less time than you expected. What do you do? Preorganisation can help you overcome this. Simply divide your material into: must know, should know, nice to know. By so doing you will be able to adjust the length of speech at any time.
The use of visual aids is crucial to a successful presentation, yet using them effectively can be problematic. In C. McKENZIE " SUCCESSFUL PRESENTATION" ( CENTURY BUSINESS) the following method of using presentation aids is suggested. McKenzie argues that an audio visual should have impact:
Integrated into your presentation.
Moves your presentation on.
Communicates to the audience
The advantages and disadvantages of audio visuals are also tabulated:
OVERHEAD PROJECTORIdeal for showing prepared statistics or diagrams.
Can be used for larger audiences.
Transparencies are easily produced.
Can be used in a variety of ways, e.g. step by step, overlaid etc.
Speaker must be careful not to obscure the screen.
Can suffer bulb failure.
Suitable for formal meetings. Needs darkened room.
Presenter loses eye contact.
Difficult for audience to take notes.
Needs a lot of practice
Projectors are temperamental.
Flexible and easy to use.
Information can be referred back to.
Pencil technique can be used.
Suitable for small audience only.
Can be difficult to write on quickly.
No parts to go wrong
Mistakes easily correctable
Chalk is messy to use.
Suitable for small groups only.
- Makes lecture come alive
- Not suitable for large groups.
- Open to technical difficulties.
- Problem with tape compatibility
Before preparing to speak in public it is worth recalling the British dramatist Ben Johnson (1573-1637):
"Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak and to speak well are too different things"