I often question whether I really need to be a public speaker. As a paralegal, am I really required to speak in public? Do I really want to speak in public? If you were to ask me those questions 15 years ago, I would have answered: “Absolutely not!” But the longer I’m in this field, the more I see the need to know how to effectively address an audience.
Generally, I’m a quiet and shy individual. Only when in a one-on-one conversation you can’t shut me up. However, when I found myself with a bigger audience, I, for some reason, couldn’t talk. I would lose my train of thought, feel sick to my stomach, begin to sweat; my hands would begin to shake. So I just assumed public speaking wasn’t for me and that I could avoid it.
Eventually the realization struck that I had better learn how to speak publicly, and get comfortable with it. I found myself having to address my entire firm membership with issues and status reports. Later, when I joined the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals, I found myself addressing issues before other members, committees and meetings. Feeling incompetent, I decided that I should learn how to do it right. For some people, it comes naturally; for others, they have to work on it. Is this something you can learn? Was there a course in my paralegal studies program that I missed?
I decided the only way I was going to learn was to put myself out there full force and start signing up for public speaking events. I first signed on as an instructor for an Institute for Paralegal Education seminar. What a mess that was. Not only did I sign up, I signed up to teach the entire second half of the seminar — a good three hours. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do as a newbie on the public speaking thing. I did get nice reviews for the course, but I knew I was nowhere close to where I wanted and should be. I knew, since public speaking didn’t come naturally, I would have to do some research and learn it.
What is public speaking? Public speaking is the process of speaking to 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 a question: “Who is saying what to whom using 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. Good orators should be able to change the emotions of their listeners, not just inform them.
Public speaking can also be considered a discourse with the community. Interpersonal communication and public speaking have several areas that include motivational speaking, leadership and personal development, business, customer service, large group communication and mass communication. Public speaking can be a powerful tool to use for purposes like motivation, persuasion, informing or simply entertaining. A confident speaker is more likely to use this excitement and create effective speech.
Public speaking, persuasive and informative speech and inspirational speaking are skills you can learn at www.speechmastery.com. You can master this if you continue to practice. You can learn one new skill a week and use it on a daily basis.
To a speaker with advanced skills, public speaking is more than just giving an informational speech. It is more than just sharing information. It is meeting the needs of the audience. Experience will teach you the necessity and the ability to master a tightly focused vertical theme or topic.
Your public speaking audience can be better served if you know a few basic things about the audience demographic itself. You can then use a number of techniques and speaking styles to grab their attention. To focus on those who will be listening, here are some key points to consider:
• Speech introductions need to meet certain criteria to be effective. They need to be appropriate in length, appropriate to the audience, appropriate to the theme and arouse and capture the attention of the audience. The proper use of questions is essential to public speaking. Limiting public speaking time is one of the more obscure speaker skills. The length of the introduction needs to be appropriate to the length of the talk. The timing of the introduction is determined by the length.
• Proper pronunciation requires use of the right sounds when vocalizing a word and stressing the right syllable. It requires knowing the proper way of saying a word in the region where it is used and accepted. When clear speech is heard it is appealing to the ear. It is the result of optimal use of the vocal cords. Attaining clarity is essential when giving a lecture. It’s also important in our every day conversation. To gain mastery of use of our vocal cords requires practice. Name pronunciation is one of the most essential aspects of correct pronunciation.
There are books, classes and Internet information on public speaking. If this is something you are interested in, or find yourself lacking, you can learn it and should.
By Incisive Media
Byline: SHARON A. DENOFA