Public Speaking - How To Be A Public Speaker

By Kimberly King


Observe that the title does NOT say: how to become a public speaker, but how to BE one. That doesn't mean that everyone has to enter it as a profession. But, as with anything done effectively, it takes a certain style to be a good public speaker. Fortunately, that style can be developed through a number of methods that nearly anyone can learn.

The first step is to have something to say that is worth hearing. But what that may be depends on two factors: the material and your audience. Just about any topic is worth exploring, but not necessarily with every audience. A group of mothers may be interested in foreign currency exchange, but the odds are against you. Unless, of course, you can talk about it in a way that engages their personal interests.

That suggests the second important point. The way a topic is treated is as important as the topic itself. Many public speakers will use humor as a method of livening up a talk. That's a great way to go about it. Everyone enjoys a good joke or an amusing story. But, for truly effective public speaking, the humor is more than just a means for getting a laugh. It's a way of bringing out an essential aspect of the topic in an engaging way.

But what is it to be engaging?

It means to create an interest for the audience in what you have to say, and you the speaker. That doesn't mean public speaking is a vanity parade though that may be true of many political figures. But, as with a good novel or movie, the audience members should be on the edge of their chairs waiting to find out where the scene is going. They have to want to hear what's being said now and how the story will develop. They have to want to get to the end to find out how it all turns out.

That can be a demanding goal. But it is made easier by observing how the pros do it.

It isn't always feasible to listen to a number of public speakers before launching your first speech (though it would help). But you can and probably have watched a number of movies and TV shows. Pay careful attention to how the actors draw you in. Note a gesture or a look that makes you want to continue to watch the show rather than get up and get a snack. Putting on a performance is an important part of public speaking.

But the actors are not doing it all on their own. They are following the director's instructions as guided by the script. You'll usually have to be your own director and screenwriter. But, then, that's part of the fun of public speaking: writing the speech.

Just as with the 'performance', observe how the TV show's writers draw you in and make you want to know what happens next. Incorporate drama through describing an interesting setting with characters that endure risk and conflict. Resolve the 'story' in unexpected but satisfying ways.

Tailor your public speaking style and content to your audiences' interests and you'll have them listening for as long as you want.




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