You can speak in Public

>> Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It’s a most valuable skill, for those who do it successfully reap substantial rewards, here’s a guide to the essentials.

When someone asks you to deliver a talk in front of a group, what’s your reaction? If you’re like most people, it’s sheer terror. According to The Book of Lists, the No. 1 phobia is the fear of public speaking.

Questions for discussion:

Share an experience when you were not prepared and asked to speak.

Can you improve your speaking skill? How?

The two steps in making any speech preparation and delivery are equally important. Here are four rules for planning your talk:


It should be a topic about which you have strong feelings. The only way to be comfortable in front of an audience is to know what you’re taking about and to believe in what you’re trying to get across.

Choose a subject of direct interest to your listeners and slant your message to them. Assume that you’ve come up with an idea to improve NYG commitment. If you’re called upon to present your proposal emphasize the good it will bring, when presenting the plan to the youth leaders who implement it, stress how it will make their work easier to contact every youth.


You need a beginning, usually a brief description of the problem you intend to attack, a middle that enumerates the main points in your solution, and an end that summarizes your entire presentation. An old rule for speakers puts it this way : “Tell them what you’re going to tell them; then tell them; and, finally, tell them what you’ve told them.”

It also helps to put “hooks” on each major point. Many of us were taught to memorize the names of the RAINBOW colours by remembering the mnemonic VIBGYOR standing for Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. Mnemonics help your listeners follow your train of thought. They make your message more memorable. And they help you remember what you want to say.


After you’ve planned your presentation, you need to practice delivering it. It’s best to do this in private, not in front of a friend or family member. You’re rehearsing a speech to a group, not a one-on-one discussion. Try to visualize the audience. “See” and “hear” the positive response you’ll be receiving.

Whenever possible, do a final review in the room where you’ll be speaking. This way, you will feel at home during your actual performance.


The worst thing to do is try to read your speech. It’s virtually impossible to make a reading sound spontaneous . if necessary, list your major headings on index cards or old greeting cards with only a few words on each card. A quick glance will trigger your thoughts. The less you refer to notes, the better you’ll communicate with your audience. Public speaking is essentially a matter of communication between you and your audience. For most speakers, copious notes are more of a hindrance than a help.

But no matter how well you prepare, you also have to deliver the speech. Here are three rules for your delivery:


There’s no need for “oratory” in the old-fashioned sense. Be your self, and you’ll seldom go wrong. Simple words and short sentences are best. Examples and anecdotes also help to “build a bridge” to your listeners. Also, be sure to look at the audience and maintain eye contact. Seek out the friendly faces. (Ignore any that are not).

For the platform pro, humor is a requirement, but for the average person, it is not necessary unless it makes a point and unless you use it well. Don’t begin a speech by saying, “Before I get into my talk, let me tell you a joke.” That sort of thing adds nothing to your message and , in fact, can destroy your effectiveness.


If you feel any shortcomings, ignore them. If you have a cold, don’t mention it. To be confident, act confident. If you happen to forget what you were going to say next, keep it to yourself. (Your listeners won’t know unless you tell them). Instead, you can also ask the audience to reflect in silence what you have told them, giving you time to recollect.

If you suffer from stage fright, don’t worry about it. A certain degree of tension is helpful. As someone said, “Don’t remove your butterflies entirely, just get them to fly in formation.”


There should be a compelling purpose to your talk. Aim toward it throughout your speech. Then close with a call to action.

Don’t wait too long to finish. Be sure that you stop speaking before the audience stops listening. George M. Cohan had the right idea: “Always leave them wanting for more.”

The old saying, “practice makes perfect,” applies in public speaking too. So speak at every opportunity, the rewards can be enormous. Indeed, with practice, you can use speaking as springboard to success and a fuller, more satisfying life.

Reference – Reader’s Digest, Aug 1983


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