Speaking to a Crowd?!? I’LL PASS.

Content and Delivery are the two ‘Yin and Yangs’ of Public Speaking. Both pieces of the puzzle need to be congruent to deliver information effectively. Be it a school event, a best friend’s wedding, a debate or a monologue, these public speaking tips will be beneficial for you!

Here, we take a look at some of the ways that we may better ourselves as public speakers and content couriers.

CONTENT

Content is important in speech. Let’s not be ‘empty vessels that make the most noise’ in the room. Prior to our own speeches, we need to ensure that we fully utilise whatever time we may have to include compelling details and facts that are relevant to the topic. This materialises in the ways that we check our facts and create the structure of our information.

Good and reliable sources for information

  • NOT WIKIPEDIA
  • News Articles. Eg. NY Times, Washington Post. The Times.
  • Released University research papers
  • Published books

Remember that knowing where you get your content from is important and it will only serve to improve your speech and confidence!

STRUCTURE

Tell them what you going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them.

Dale Carnegie

American Writer

Just like essays, your speech needs to have a certain structure. Have a flow and a certain narrative for your audience to follow.

INTRO – BODY – CONCLUSION

  • Probably the most basic, yet important structure to have in your speech. Start with something gripping, something that gives them an understanding of your topic. Expound on it, and finally, summarise and close the speech well.
  • Limit your body to having a small, yet important, number of points to keep them engaged as you get your notions across.
  • Be sure to keep on a logical path, and guide your audience through your speech. Audiences like it when a speaker leads them to a destination. They want to listen to you but know that you have a destination too. As you write and revise, focus on having a good structure with a simple narrative. Remove things that are unnecessary and confusing. If it doesn’t help you get your core message across, DROP IT.

BEEFING UP THE BODY

With PEEL. Point, Evidence, Elaboration, Link. (Maybe you’ve heard of this acronym before). This is a very simple and basic structure for your body portions. Our point should support our topic or specific argument, with evidence and elaboration used to ‘beef up’ and support our point; making it more credible, and giving more information to our audience. Keeping our audience in the loop by leading them back to our overarching argument with effective links, will complete the point and keep them following your words. 

THE RULE OF THREE

Three seems to be a magical number as it is not too much, and not too little at the same time. 

  • Keeping your whole speech to THREE main points will allow your audience to be kept attentive and allow them to better remember your content after your speech. BE CONCISE AND TO THE POINT! 
  • Allow your audience to stay attentive and allow your points to be effectively imparted. This use of division keeps things short, sweet, and easy on the ears. Just remember what Dale Carnegie once said, “Tell them what you going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them.” This Rule of Three will be great for thee.

Using this rule to Reinforce and Emphasise

  • Reinforcing a certain fact works best when it comes in threes. Try to put some extra adjectives into your work to see if it drives your point more effectively! Just remember, using this method is easy, effective, and impressive! (Ha, see what I did there?) To add further emphasis, try utilising repetition in your delivery to make your points more impactful.
  • Emphasis should not only be used in your script but employed in delivery to add an extra dimension to your public speaking. Heres a quick exercise! Try looking at your sentences, and play around with the emphasis of different words! Find out how this affects the meaning of your message and choose the one that fits your content best. This will also help you to break a specific speech pattern!  Making you more interesting and getting the message across more effectively. 

Here we take a look at two very helpful videos that deconstruct scripts. These skills and tips are great and should be employed in our own speech writing. 

DELIVERING TO AN AUDIENCE

Alright, now you’ve got your impeccable and absolutely dashing content.

How do we deliver? IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE?!?

Speaking to the crowd may be daunting, and you’ve probably heard the advice of ‘imagining your audience nude’ or ‘practice for X hours in front of a mirror.’ If that’s useful for you, go ahead! But here’s some advice from me.

  1. Prepare Them

    • You wouldn’t want to start speaking if half your audience is asleep. Try something to prepare them ready for your words! Some use video, music, the ole trick of getting them to massage themselves, questions, polls. Whatever it may be, always ensure your audience is ready to listen to you!
  2. Eye contact

    • Making meaningful eye contact with your audience is integral to speech delivery. It gives you visual feedback on their attentiveness and it informs them that you are giving them your attention. Cue cards are important! But don’t forget to look up and acknowledge them every once in a while.
  3. Encourage Participation

    • Speeches aren’t conversations so it’s a one-way street. WRONG. The best way to get your point across is to get your audience to not just listen to your speech, involved in the conversation. Given Singapore’s shocking statistic of 1 in 3 having a high chance of getting diabetes, take the time to get your audience to look to their neighbours beside them, tell each other ‘one out of the three of us may get diabetes’ and let them be able to visualise the magnitude of the issue.
    • On the topic of using statistics, get the audience to join a live poll. Pose questions to them and get a response! Get them to actively listen and reply to your question. This may also spark conversation about your topic! Allowing them to have a better interest in your topic.  
  4. Humanize yourself. Keep your content relatable.

    • Making your content relatable to the audience. A small one-liner on your own likes and dislikes can prove that you’ve got opinions and thoughts. Depending on your content and your type of audience, an injection of humour may be beneficial! Use your wit, humour, or your own story! Making them feel relatable is important in connecting and engaging with your audience.
    • To keep your content relevant, throw in some examples of how your topic will relate to their situation. They may think that your speech regarding the importance of public speaking has nothing to do with them, but you can always jolt them with the prospect of giving presentations in the future, and how they should follow your tips to avoid confusion and frustration in the future.
  5. Don’t be conscious of the Unexpected

    • Now, most people do well in a speech. Until something unexpected happens. Be it the fillers, audience laughter, a stumble, cough, etc. Don’t get distracted and let your flow be affected. It’s done, that moment has PASSED. Take the next step and continue delivering! few people can complete the ‘subway challenge (ordering a sub without the ‘uh’)’ so don’t be conscious if you’ve got fillers! Just keep the flow!

GETTING FROM SPEECH TO DELIVERY

Now that we’ve got a better understanding of content and delivery, our crucial Triptage isn’t complete without effective preparation to help us seal the deal.

  1. Getting used to Additional Material

    • Practise with our additional material.

    • Cue Cards, Clickers, Microphones, Powerpoint Slides, Demonstrators etc.

    • PRACTISE PRACTISE PRACTISE. It will allow us to be prepared for hiccups and not panic at the disco.

  2. Exercise and Warm-ups

      • Ha Ha Ha. Ho Ho Ho. He He He. Try looking and seeing your stomach move in and out as you go Ha! Ho! Or He! You may just beat your dad at the Santa Claus Mimicking Contest this Christmas.

      • Hums, giggles, and yawns will help you open the vocal cords, to prepare your voice for delivery!

      • Stretching the face and Chewing! To warm up the facial muscles and loosen the jaw for better delivery and better use of expressions on stage!

      • Vocal preservation and training are pivotal in all voice work. You have probably heard the term ‘use your diaphragm’ to get that solid, grounded tone and voice. Here are some exercises you could try to get to know this foreigner in your body.

      • Tongue Twisters! Work the voice fully! Strive to achieve clarity and expression!

        ie: “Betty Botter bought some butter but she said ‘my butter’s bitter! If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter!'”

You’re now ready to give your speech! Don’t forget to enjoy speaking and have belief in your words! Have conviction and take charge of the situation to make your audience actively listen to your content and follow your notion. Public speaking is a core competency in the 21st century. So charm and excel in your next competition, interview, presentation and more. Best of Luck!

If you’re interested in more tips and tricks, join us for “SPEECH & VOICE – A 21st CENTURY CORE COMPETENCY” by Head Trainer and experienced voice coach, Mary Ann Tear! Register your interest now!

This programme is recommended for students: Debaters, actors, public speakers, MUN Participants and more!

Written by Malcolm Fu.

A Finalist in the biennial Dr. Lee Suan Yew Speaker of the Year competition (ACS Independent, 2014) as well as an Actor and Dancer with ACS Independent, ACJC, ACT3 International, and NUS, Malcolm is no stranger to a crowd; always looking to deliver clearly, concisely, and emphatically.

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