On November 17, 2011, I attended the conference titled Public Speaking held by professors Gayle Griggs and Betsy Morales of the English Department. Here we were given tips and pointers on how to effectively speak in front of an audience.
Firstly let’s define what public speaking is; public speaking is speakingto a group of people in a structured, deliberate
manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners. In public speaking, as in any form of communication, there are five basic elements, often expressed as who is saying what to whom utilizing what medium with what effects? The purpose of public speaking can range from simply transmitting information, to motivating people to act, to simply telling a story. (PublicSpeaking)
“Public speaking is to convey a message to an audience through speech, gestures, among other elements” stated Professor Betsy Morales.
Being a good orator requires leadership and leadership can make up for other skills one might not possess. A good public speaker must be dynamic and charismatic to keep the audience’s attention. He or she must have a good tone and pitch so that the audience can understand with more ease. Last, but not least one should be passionate and confident about the topic he or she is talking about.
“Be enthusiastic to keep your audience interested” said Professor Gayle Griggs while expressing through her body language and tone what her words meant.
Do not read your presentations; know the material you are going to talk about before giving your presentation, seminar, conference or any other method in which to speak to an audience. It is recommended to use index card or anything of the sort in case you forget what you’re saying or lose your thread. Avoid writing down on the index card the whole presentation. Instead use brief sentences and keywords to help you remember the speech.
When speaking publicly, speak at a slow, adequate rate, if you need to pause for a moment to gather your thoughts or notes it is ok to do so.
When giving a presentation start off with a smile, this will ease your audience, removes the tension and it helps you break the ice.
Public speakers should always maintain good eye contact with its audience, but not to the point that they feel intimidated by you.
“Practice, practice and more practice” answered Betsy Morales in regards to the question “How should we prepare before speaking publicly?” presented by a student attending the conference.
Always be concise and specific, do not wander too far from your main topic, and make sure you are being clear so that your audience understands you and is following you. If the audience is somewhat lost, ask if there are any questions or doubts and proceed to clarify them accordingly.
It is always good to use visual effects like pictures, videos and graphs among other effects to help support the main topic, but do not use them excessively.
When something in your speech needs to be highlighted because it is really important, say it loudly and slowly, and maybe repeat it so that the audience understands that it is an important point in your speech.
Before the end of the conference we were paired in groups of two and were given a small strip of paper with a topic written on it. We were given five minutes to come up with a brief one minute speech, and show what we had learned
there. My group’s topic was “Is the glass half full or half empty?” We wrote some short sentences and keywords that would help us remember what to say. We successfully gave our presentation to the group attending the conference and we were the only group that came up with a visual aid, presenting to the group a half full plastic cup, and asking how they saw it.
“Always be confident and believe in yourself, there is nothing to be afraid of, they are normal people like you and me” Betsy Morales said. “And do not picture them naked. It will be worse.”
Prof. Betsy Morales is the current professor of the class on public speaking that opened up this semester. If the class is successful and has sufficient students enrolled the English Department will keep it next semester, so that any student who needs to hone his or her public speaking skills gets a chance to do so.