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How To Master the Art of Public Speaking

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

Don’t follow the crowd; let the public follow you.- Margaret Thatcher


Public speaking is the art of delivering a speech in front of an audience. Speaking in front of a group takes a lot of courage and preparation. You need skills to be an excellent public speaker. Below are ten characteristics of a good public speaker.

1. Knowledge. You must know what you are talking about. Read, read, and read. Being a comprehensive reader is an immense help because you can better understand the topic you need to discuss.

2. Preparation. Nothing can replace good planning and preparation. Analyze what you need for your speech, like visual aids. Review your speech. The more prepared you are for your address, the more likely you will succeed in delivering it.

3. Message. Your message should suit your audience. Evaluate your message. Ask yourself these questions:

- Does it teach something new to your audience that they did not know?

- Does it entertain your audience?

- Does it persuade your audience to practice what you have discussed?

- Does your speech share knowledge that can help people?

4. Language. Learn to use the right words to suit your audience and occasion. Avoid using jargon. Use simple and understandable terms. Using these words conveys a lack of confidence and knowledge of your subject. Instead, pause whenever you need to recall what you need to say. 

5. Self-confidence. By no means should you let your audience doubt your ability? You can show your confidence by looking well prepared and delivering your speech well.

6. Enthusiasm. A good speaker can reach out to his audience and exhibit enthusiasm in his work regardless of his feelings. He shows vitality in his topics, choice of words, and gestures.

7. Listening skills. Being an effective speaker would help you be a good listener. There are three types of listening according to their purpose:

- Emphatic listening - you supply emotional support to the person who is taught

- Comprehensive listening - you gather information to form a correct conclusion or idea. You focus on details and facts.

- Critical listening - this type of listening is most useful in decision making.

8. Sense of self. This pertains to how you perceive yourself. It is communicated to your audience as confidence, self-assurance, and power.

9. Integrity. Your sense of self forms your integrity. People listen to you if you have respect and confidence in conveying your message.

10. Sincerity. A good speaker believes in what he is saying.

The ability to speak in public pays well in every part of your life, whether in a small group sharing opinions or delivering a speech in front of an organization.

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