Speak Out…The Indecipherable Art of Public Speaking


By
Sandeep Mohapatra
PGP 2004-2006
Xavier Institute of Management
Bhubaneswar
 


All of us know that English is a funny language!!! Let's face it… There is no egg in eggplant, no ham in hamburger, no pine in pineapple, no French fries in France. Sweetmeats are not meats, but candies, while sweet breads, which aren't sweet, are meats. Boxing rings are actually squares. The guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig. A vegetarian like me eats vegetables but what does a humanitarian eat? A wise man and a wise guy are opposites. The stars are out when they are visible and the lights are out, they are invisible.

Friends, the difference between mere management and leadership is communication and that art of communication is the language of leadership. One of the greatest speakers of the 21 st century was so terrified to speak before an audience that he fainted the first time. The fact that his lips shuttered and did not have a college degree made it worse. But by studying the greatest speakers in the history, Winston Churchill conquered the difficulties and in effect won the Second World War through his speeches. I am sure you can do it too. Are you ready to face it?

Of all methods of communication available to us, friends you will agree with me, among the written word, the spoken word, the picture or a combination of these, the spoken word is the most powerful method of communication. If I say to any of my friends in the class "I don't like the way you dress up, why don't you try wearing something sober and simple", then he will never forgive me. What the hell does this guy think? But if I wrote him, I can always change it. "Dear, I hope you don't mind my guiding as far as your dressing style." But, if I said these words in the class it's like a bullet from the gun- he's dead.

A public speech is like a vegetable sandwich. It has three parts. The top layer is the introduction, the first slice of the bread. In the middle you have the butter and the cheese and that is your subject matter and the last one is your conclusion, introduction, text and conclusion, simple. But, how do you go about it? In the first line of your speech you have to attract your audience and buy them up. Never start a speech with an apology. You are not taking an insurance policy against failure. If you are bad they will throw stones at you, if you are good they might applaud you. That's why I advice people to give applause before the speaker starts because you do not know what's coming after. Every time a face an audience my legs tremble like an old washing machine. My hands start sweating. I get butterflies in my stomach. I feel the end of the world is on my head. But let me tell you if this phenomenon is not in you, please consult the doctor, as there is something wrong with your constitution. Nervousness, Winston Churchill said gives you a kick in the back. "A kick in the back to prepare"!!! Any speaker coming in front of the audience unprepared is committing the greatest sin on earth. So watch out!

Now how do you start your speech? You have got to arouse curiosity of the audience in the first line of you speech. Sometimes it is better to remain silent and appear a fool rather than to speak and remove all doubt. How do you arouse curiosity? Let me tell you one of the methods. I am reminded of a particular anecdote of an older priest addressing the church on a Sunday morning. When people tend to sleep the older priest said, "last night I held in my arms, a women and she is the wife of another man". Everyone was shocked. "My God! What is happening?" And they waited for a bombshell, the older priest said, "It was my dear mother." Two weeks later the younger priest found the congregation sleeping off and he thought he will use the same trick and he said "last night I held in my arms, a woman" People were shocked and started wondering, "Young priest…What is happening to him?" He continued "And she is the wife of another man". And they waited for a bombshell, when he said; "I can't remember who she was!" and he promptly lost his job.

Prepare well for the main part that is the body of the speech. Woodrow Wilson was once asked how long he prepares his speeches. He said if it is a 15 minutes speech it takes me seven days. If it is a 30 minutes speech, it will take three days and if it is a 1-hour speech, I am ready now as you can bluff your way through. That is what a politician does. That's the difference between mass oratory and effective public speaking.

Now we come to the closing part of speech. Never start a speech with an apology. Never close a speech by saying, "Now that I have nothing more to say so I end now". If you have nothing more to say, go and sit down. Why do you want to announce? Many people say that. Never give an abrupt ending and never be too long in your speech. The key to be a good speaker is practice, practice and practice, continue that word. There is no other formula. The greatest speakers of the world have rehearsed wonderfully well.

Friends our career is no laughing matter. That is why it is time to get serious about humour. In the era of global competition, you need to every advantage you can get. So always try to use humour wherever possible, it gains a lot of marks. But it should not fall flat. It happened to me some years back. When I cracked a joke, nobody laughed and I said, "What is the problem? Why don't you laugh?" and then they laughed.

Yesterday, I was going through a very interesting article where it said about the moods of a woman. "An angel of truth and a dream of fiction"!!! A woman is a bundle of contradictions. She is afraid of a wasp, will scream at a mouse but will tackle a stranger alone in the house. Sour as vinegar, sweet as a rose, she kisses you one minute and then turns up her nose. She is stronger than brandy, milder than milk. She will hate you like poison and love you like mad. The moods of a man- Hungry, Horny and Sleepy!!!

I would like to sum up the 3 cardinal points of effective public speaking as: -
Stand up to be seen
Speak out to be heard and
Shut up to be appreciated
 


Sandeep Mohapatra
PGP 2004-2006
Xavier Institute of Management
Bhubaneswar
 

Source : E-mail September 22, 2004

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