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The Art of Speaking: lessons from the greatest speeches in history

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June 29, 2017

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by John R. Hale
1. Overcome Obstacles Public speaking can turn a commoner into a great orator. Everyone should work at being a better public speaker. We must get over stage fright, which is nothing more than fear. Getting somewhere early and visualizing yourself speaking there can rid of much of your stage fright. Write your speech down so that if you get scared and nervous you have somewhere to look to and remember. Practice and practice what you’re going to say.  Don’t expect your speech to be perfect or succeed the very first time. Make up your mind that you will overcome. Work on training and getting better.
2. Practice your Delivery The way that you use your voice and body in the speech is very important. Cross training – running up the hill or jogging while trying to speak so you can still get your idea across clearly is helpful. Study actors. Tone of voice, stance, body gestures, the way you move your body and your hands, etc. are important with actors… and is important in giving a speech. Your impression on the audience is going to be made by the way you use your voice and hands more than just the words that you use.  When Patrick Henry gave his famous speech on “give me liberty or give me death”, he had to convince Virginia to get behind him for the war. It was the repeated phrases and words, the tone of his voice, and the theatrical style of the speech that got to the people more than just the mere words he said. Volume, pitch, silence, pause, inflection of words, accent of where to put the voice, etc., You must decide how you’re going to use your words and your speech. Pitch – you cannot stay only on a high tone or only on a low tone, you must use variety. Monotone becomes very annoying.  Music can help you learn how to use your pitch — sometimes low, sometimes strong, have a crescendo and work up to it. Your body language is important, and one of the most important parts on your body is your eye – you must use your eyes correctly. If you are looking straight into someone’s eyes, it is very difficult for them to look away, therefore you can speak directly to them. Find people in your audience that are nodding or smiling                         The Art of Speaking 1 Book Summary by Jeffrey Bush
Friday, March 4, 2016 and look to them to keep on track with your speech. But work on making everyone in the audience feel like you were looking at them, not just one person. Stand up straight, don’t slouch or crouch. Use your hands or movements to emphasize something, but don’t make it look fake. A smile will show that you’re happy and make your audience feel at ease. Don’t forget that you need to use your entire body and your entire vocal chords in your speech.
3. Be your Self Be yourself and let your audience know who you are. Don’t be someone that you’re not. You’re wanting people to know who you are and to believe in the same cause that you believe in. Opening up to people both in public speaking and private life is the way to get people on your side.  Do not be afraid to share with others your weaknesses. You can use things from your own life to help people understand. We all want the feeling of authenticity and sharing about your own life’s experiences, failures, etc., will do just that.  Why should people listen to you about the subject? Give them a reason. Your story about how you failed or made mistakes may cause some laugh and will show everyone that you are not perfect and can relate to them. You might have good points and truth in your speech, but what moves people are your personal stories and what happened to you. Explain your personal connection with the audience – figure out that common ground with them. Share your own emotions and do not shy away from sharing your failures and weaknesses. Establish a personal link with your listeners at the very beginning. Use plain language when talking to your people, but never talk down to them. Always make sure your audience can hear you.
4. Find your Humorous Voice Telling jokes to an audience can be like a minefield, you do not know who you’re going to upset or offend and who you will make laugh. You must be cautious when telling a joke. The first laugh a audience should receive is about the speaker himself. Never laugh at anybody before laughing at yourself first. Every laugh can help with a point A laugh should come naturally out of the subject you’re speaking about. Comedy helps relax your audience. Use humor to focus on your theme not to distract from it. Jokes can illuminate thoughts if used correctly.
The Art of Speaking 2 Book Summary by Jeffrey Bush
Friday, March 4, 2016 Humor can illuminate your personality so make sure the jokes come from your personality. Once you hear laughter, you know that they are with you for the rest of the time.
5. Make it a Story Learn to compose a story.  There’s substance of speech and there are facts about the subject so research and do not just make things up. Human brain is designed to remember stories. Facts are not necessarily memorable but you can make them attached to stories so that they will. If you do so, it will be easier for you to remember your speech easier for others to follow along and remember. Decorate your speech with little antidotes.  When people asked Jesus about who their neighbor is, he responded by using a story – the good Samaritan. A story should be personal, have details and be specific to follow along with.   The story will hold people’s interest and will also teach a great lesson. You may sweat to find the perfect story for your speech, but it will be worth it. Before you share the story, make sure they understand the point of the story so they don’t get drowned in the story.  Include vivid details in the story. Anticipate the audience’s questions and provide the answers within your speech. When you tell a story both you and can your audience can relax and you can look them in the eyes and they will follow you.
6. Use the Power of Three Every story has three parts: introduction, body and conclusion. Our minds were made to think in threes – 2 of something feels incomplete but 3 seems to satisfy the mind. The conclusion of the speech should be a climax, not just a reference to what you said before. Universal consciousness works in threes. Three tasks, three people, etc. Construct your speech in three parts – intro, body, conclusion. Use adjectives and other structures and threes.  There’s a power using groups of three.
7.  Build a Logical Case Build a logical case at the beginning and prove a point at the end. This works whether political, religious, business, etc.  Start with an axiom (a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true). You do not want to insult an audience, be courteous and treat them with respect.
The Art of Speaking 3 Book Summary by Jeffrey Bush
Friday, March 4, 2016 Prove that all of the information you’re presenting is something that you and your audience agree on. Use logic so that people will buy into what you are talking about. If you do not prove that it is logical, people will not be with you on your subject. Use clear, concise, but neutral reasoning when presenting your speech. Avoid emotional and argumentative appeals. Base your points on axiom, truths that everyone agrees on. Focus on proving a single point, stay away from the fighting issues. Be strong, clear about what you believe, but still be courteous. Check and double-check that all of your facts are really true.
8. Paint Pictures in Words Give people a picture or metaphor of what you’re talking about. Images make you focus. Use metaphors to help people. Don’t mix your metaphors and make sure they are appropriate for the occasion. Use Excitement and Dialogue in your speech. It’s the mental pictures that you use that will help people understand and help people remember long after you quit talking.
9. Focus on your Audience You have prepared your speech, now it is time to get out there and face the audience. Address everyone in the audience. Your tone is important. Look for common ground with your listeners that will show you are interested in them. Always be courteous, sympathetic, and mindful of their comfort.
10. Share a Vision The speech needs a principal tone just as it needs a key thought. Use I have a dream (Martin Luther King speech) as an example speech.  You want to motivate people as a result of sharing your vision with them. Inspiration is sharing with others that which is inside of you. By use a song lyric, a known quote, fact from history or truth that everybody believes, you can strengthen your speech.  Do not use negatives to try to create a positive. Relentless positivism makes people want to be with you no matter what the speech is. Alliterated repetitive-ism can be very useful. Stir up a positive feelings in a people and send them away with a renewed outlook.
The Art of Speaking 4 Book Summary by Jeffrey Bush
Friday, March 4, 2016 Maintain eye contact with your audience and maintain energy. Use pauses. You do not have to use your own words, you can bring in the best of others and it will make your speech more impactful.
11. Change Minds and Hearts You may not be able to change other people’s opinions, but there are certain things that you could do to change their fundamental attitude. First connect on the level with the audience. Learn to praise the people, but make it personal and sincere. Use props to reinforce your speech — holding something up while you’re speaking is very powerful. But avoid passing something out while you’re speaking because it sidetracks. Be courteous even speaking about your opponents and your audience may shift there thoughts towards yours. Pace yourself to keep your audience with you when you are in a discussion. Focus on concrete points not on abstractions.
12. Call for Positive Action If you have a systematic way of structuring your speech and everyone knows it, change those patterns and switch things up. Break up with the element of surprise.  Repeat words or phrases. Have a clear call of action at the end of your speech so that people will know exactly what you want them to do or how to feel. No part of the speech can have a greater impact on the audience than the last words that you speak. So you must carefully craft your ending.  You must think about the end of your speech. Not only should your words be strong at the end of your speech, but you should deliver them strong. Just like a diver cannot make a splash with the end of his feet or he will be subtracted points by the judge, so the last point of a speech must be crisp and clear to his audience without a messy splash. People have waited for the speech, so for sake of your audience be crystal clear and finish strong.   Endings are more important in public speaking than beginnings. Establish unity between you and the people – use more “we” and not so much “I” or “you”.
The Art of Speaking 5 Book Summary by Jeffrey Bush

 

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