While learning the art of public speaking, I was quite careful to pick the most important concepts including ethics and the role of ethics and plagiarism within public speaking as laid down by our lead facilitator Dr. Keith B. Jenkins. Keith is also the Vice President & Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.
This was during the Course RITx: SKILLS105x Public Speaking which he facilitated and was delivered at the EDX Learning Platform. His presentations and research mostly cited Lucas, Stephen, Lazaros Simeon, and Juanita Wattam. 2008. The art of public speaking. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
Most importantly is to understand that there exists a public speaking flow chart that has nine elements summarized in this article. A careful read of each one of them will be the beginning of your learning journey to become a good public speaker.
Accept the Speaking Assignment
At any one moment in your life, an invitation to speak may be extended to you. It may be at a friend’s wedding, a family funeral service, a lecture, a corporate event, or any other form of speaking invitation that may come your way.
Before you can say yes, there are a few questions you may have to ask yourself. For example, who are you speaking to? what is the occasion? And what are you speaking about? Knowledge of these questions will start to form a strong foundation for you to deliver a good speech.
Analyze the Audience
The process of preparing speeches today is somewhat influenced by the fact that we are in a global village. Our audiences are comprised of persons from different ethnic backgrounds. It is therefore important for you to do audience analysis both demographically and psychologically.
You must be able to think about age, gender, sexual orientation, racial, ethnic, or cultural background, and religion. Analysis of your audience demographically enables you to prepare an all-inclusive speech without discriminating against anyone. At the same time, you have to think about what the audience believes in terms of their beliefs, their attitudes, and their values.
These two ways of analyzing the audience will help you to tailor your message to capture the audience that you are speaking to. Therefore, it is always wise to get complete information about the audience by carrying out audience analysis early enough as you prepare your speech.
Analyze the Occasion
One other critical thing to consider is the nature of the occasion. You must make an effort to find information about the occasion or event at which your speech will be delivered.
It may be a classroom setting, a boardroom in front of a board of directors, a corporate event, or a wedding. You also have to find out the exact or estimated number of people that will form the audience.
This can be a slam group of about 10 people or an audience of 200 participants or even an event attended by 1000 people. Analysis of the occasion may also call for a physical visit to the venue or room where you will be delivering the speech so that you can imagine how you will stand at the podium.
If there is no podium, you also need to figure out how you may move around or carry your iPad, paper, or telephone with your key points of the presentation.
Establish the Objectives
The fourth step in the public speaking flow chart is to establish the objectives. You need to be clear about the purpose of your speech. There are mainly three standard objectives across the spectrum in public speaking.
You speak to inform the audience, to convince them, or to entertain. At least your speech must fall into one of those categories. So, what is yours? Are you making an informative presentation, a persuasive speech, or an entertainment stand-up comedy (commemorative speaking)?
The most common types of speeches are informative speeches which also fall under four categories. They include; Speeches about objects that are visible and tangible, speeches about processes where you want the audience to understand a process, or enable listeners to be able to perform a procedure. The third category is that of speeches about events happening or yet to happen and finally, speeches about concepts like beliefs, theories, principles, or ideas.
Analyze Your Knowledge of the Subject
The fifth step in the public speaking flowchart, to analyze your knowledge of the subject comes with putting together the information you have gathered over time or doing additional research on the topic.
The invitation may have come to you because you are considered a repository of knowledge in that particular subject. If that’s not the case, then you will have to analyze your knowledge of the subject to gauge your level of knowledge about the specific topic.
You may have to do additional research by conducting a few interviews, using mass media, or even visiting a library. Research about the subject allows you to collect enough examples, illustrations, and anecdotes. Public speaking routines involve the use of information already available to you, doing additional research, and gathering supporting materials.
Synthesize the Speech
Having collected all the information, you need about the topic, it’s time to synthesize your speech. This is the sixth step in the public speaking flowchart. Look at it as the act of organizing the speech in a way that adds worth to the audience that you will be speaking to.
Every good speech contains an introduction, body, and conclusion. The best way to start writing a speech is by writing the body first, then going back and preparing the introduction. These two parts of the speech will guide you on how you write or prepare a conclusion.
Depending on the type of speech you are preparing, it is important to understand the right pattern to follow like; a chronological pattern where you narrate a sequence of events in a particular order.
The other pattern is the problem-solution approach where the speech only has two parts. The choice of the pattern to follow helps you to be orderly while you prepare a presentation.
For those who would like to focus on preparing persuasive speeches, one of the most popular ways is to follow Monroe’s motivated sequence. This is a five-step technique for organizing persuasive speeches that inspire people to take a particular action.
It has been around for quite some time having been developed in the mid-1930s by Alan H. Monroe at Purdue University. Monroe’s Motivated Sequence Outline includes the following 5 steps:
- Get the attention
- Establish the Need
- Satisfy the Need
- Visualize the Consequences
- Call to Action
Prepare for Delivery
While you prepare to deliver a speech, you need to create a solid outline of your speech. One of the most common styles of speech outline is the principle of subordination where you list the main point using say Roman Numerals & the subordinate points listed as A, B, C, etc.
You also have to Practice your speech as much as you can before you deliver it to the intended audience. This may be in front of a few of your friends or standing in front of a mirror in your room. Either way, you get the opportunity to estimate the time and eliminate unnecessary details.
Deliver the Speech
This is the most important stage of the flowchart where you deliver all that you have tirelessly worked on. It’s time for you to share with the audience the best you can.
It is also at this stage that you have to choose the method of delivering your speech. There are four styles of speech delivery which include:
- Impromptu: the type of delivery where there is not enough time to have thorough preparation. For example, at a networking event when a team from the media approaches you to speak about something from there and then. When confronted with this kind of situation, capture the question first and respond with two or three points, then summarize.
- Memorization: with this method, you prepare a manuscript and memorize the entire speech without having to read from the notes. The risk with this method is the fact that some people tend to forget some important lines of the speech and most likely the audience will notice.
- Manuscript: this is where you write the speech word per word and deliver it by reading from a manuscript. This is most common with speeches where you may have to be quoted for what you say like in a court of law or a political rally. Nonetheless, you may stand a risk of focusing your eyes on the script without connecting fully with the audience.
- Extemporaneous: with this kind of speech, you prepare comprehensively and come up with a speech outline that will guide you through the entire time you have to present to your audience. You use the outline to guide the flow of the main points, subordinate points, and the different transitions within the speech.
Language of Speech Delivery
Everyone would like to listen to a speech that is clear and concise right from the start to the end.
You should also choose words that you also understand without strife to include terminology with complex words that your audience will not understand. This may also make you veer off the main topic.
As drawn from the research of Campbell, Huxman, and Burkholder “The Rhetorical Act” these talk about creating a virtual experience.
In other words, you have to speak in such a way that your audience can imagine that same experience of an event even when they were not physically present. For example, I entered an examination room well prepared and to my surprise, the questions on the examination paper were very hard.
I first read up to question three and then turned and started reading from the last question backward to try and see if there is one, I could easily attempt. Everyone who has had a similar experience would start to imagine how you felt and how they would have reacted.
Nonverbal Communication – Voice
It is extremely important to be careful about how you deliver your speech because your message will be better understood by how you deliver the speech but, not by what you say.
Everyone has his unique voice which can be used with a tone loud enough to ensure that the audience can heal. You don’t have to speak so loudly because you will lose some people in the audience.
You also don’t have to speak so low for you will still lose other members of the audience. In other words, you want to speak fast enough to keep individuals engaged but not too fast that you lose them.
For nonverbal communication, you also must consider your pronunciation and articulation of words. While preparing a speech you have to be sure that the words you have chosen to use are those that you can pronounce the way they’re supposed to be pronounced.
Throughout your entire speaking career, you must always think about articulation when you’re giving a speech to maintain your credibility.
Nonverbal: Movement & Gesture
While we speak, we tend to move around and employ quite some non-verbal behaviors that translate words and phrases.
You have to be careful about the kind of emblems to use since they may mean different things to the members of your audience. For example, holding up a closed fist may be a symbol of success to some people whereas to others, it may indicate a political statement.
You may also find yourself using illustrators to demonstrate different things to your audience for them to understand your message better.
For example, drawing a circle using your hands or indicating that something is really small or very big. Other public speakers use what we call signposts, like pointing to one own finger to count 1, 2, 3, etc. This happens especially when one is making a presentation with numbered lists.
Adapters: these are nonverbal behaviors that individuals use to try and deal with the nervousness that comes with facing an audience. some presenters, tend to hold one hand with the other and crack knuckles, others hold water bottles or any other available object like a marker and start twisting them weirdly without their knowledge.
I have also seen a training facilitator who was also my colleague constantly drinking bottled water in such a way that the audience was not comfortable with the behavior.
It is up to you to think about those behaviors that may distract your audience from concentrating on the message or be interpreted otherwise from the original intention.
Prepare Post Speech Evaluation
This is the ninth and last step of the public speaking flowchart, post-speech assessment. It is during the evaluation stage that we look back at the entire process to assess whether everything went on as planned.
It is also at this stage that we receive feedback both positive and negative about the public presentation. You don’t have to take things for granted because while you may think you did a very good job, there could be particular things you have to improve.
For example, there could be a specific word or phrase (go-to phrase) you tend to use several times that you have to deal with in your next speech.
Use the Evaluation Rubric
A speech evaluation rubric is a standard tool that can be used to assess both your speech and those of others the rubric might break down the evaluation process into three parts- content and organization of the speech, language and usage, and delivery of the speech.
Other institutions and public speaking experts call this a score sheet for public speaking. This mostly works when each section is assigned percentage scores.
Post-presentation assessment for training sessions and lectures can also be done by the use of evaluation forms distributed to participants to give feedback about the presentation.
For presentations made during a training intervention, we tend to ask participants if the duration was sufficient and whether participation and interactions were encouraged.
We also find out whether the Presenters and/or presentations were clear and audible. Answers to those questions give us very useful tips on how to improve that performance, the next time we prepare for public speaking or presentations.
Develop an Improvement Plan
If you get valuable feedback about your performance and tips on how to improve that performance the next time you speak. You need to take notes and implement the lessons learned for you to get better the next time you get an opportunity to speak.
The key lessons will mostly be about the content and organization, language, and delivery. You should continue to use the rubric to evaluate your presentations not only during one speech or training but in other moments when you have an opportunity to speak.