Let’s say this blog is a knight. A knight, in his dressing for battle, has armor covering nearly every inch of his body. This past month, the Speak King has been shedding light on the complexities and importance of public speaking, applying figurative “armor” to his readers in an effort to create public speaking “knights.” Well, there’s a chance I may have been getting ahead of myself. Instead of granting these pieces of armor, it takes a man worthy of being knighted underneath the metal suit with an understanding of the different concepts and methods of public speaking.
There are three different types of public speaking: informative, persuasive, and extemporaneous.
1. Informative speeches have a specific purpose and it’s the speaker’s mission to teach the audience information. To be successful, the audience will have left your speech with a gained knowledge of what you chose to speak about. Be careful of delving into too much information, because long speeches (as well developed as they may be) will bore your audience. Avoid jargon or any kind of language that would confuse the listeners; the success of the speech depends on the audience’s ability to comprehend and digest what the speech was about. DO NOT take sides! Informative speeches are to INFORM, which provides the audience with a clear understanding of a topic, and not to convince your listeners of anything.
2. This is where the convincing is key. The intention of a persuasive speech should be to change or alter the opinions of the audience. It is critical that basic information is shed on your topic, but you can’t just stop there. You must engage your audience with researched, convincing information in order to change their minds to your liking. It is key that you deliver a persuasive speech with passion, because if you don’t care, neither will your listeners. Connect with your audience by addressing the other side of your argument and considering it’s legitimacy, which breaks down their wall against what you’re saying and allows you to insert why you chose the side that you did.
3. Extemporaneous speeches are done on a whim with no preparation or previous knowledge that it would be conducted. This increases the likelihood of nervousness or a panicky nature, but don’t fret. Brainstorm the most crucial points of what is being asked of you and speak with confidence in what you’re saying. This exudes an increased sense of what you choose to say. Extemporaneous public speaking can be improved in one way: practice. Choose anything to speak about off the top of your head, stand in front of a mirror, and watch yourself. If you aren’t impressed, begin to use body language and annunciate important points.
Now that you have been exposed to what trigger words are, it is time that we discuss how they should be used. It can be argued that your diction while speaking publicly can be more influential on the audience’s reaction to your speech than body language, preparation, or even the sources gathered. Without successful word choice, good body movement is just a game of charades. Without good diction, preparation is just a waste of time. Without orchestrating your words in a way that the audience can respect, research is just a bundle of useless information. The gravity of diction is heavy on the shoulder of a public speaker and trigger words can sometimes be viewed as a ticket out.
Letting loose a trigger word (whether positive or negative) pulls a reader’s attention (again whether that attention is positive or negative depends on the words chosen). When using words that are fragile in nature, great evaluation should be taken in examining the effect the word could have on an individual or an entire audience. Positive trigger words can be managed to pull in the listeners and grab their attention, but use them too much and they become dull. Positive trigger words work wonders for reaching your hand through the listener’s threshold and snatching their attention from them, but there’s nothing that lulls an audience to sleep or that loses listeners quicker than someone who repeats themselves, speaks in circles, or doesn’t expand their vocabulary. Negative trigger words should be avoided all together unless it is a quote, you are in a context where the word is appropriate, or you are speaking against the proponents of the phrase.
Trigger words are risky and unpredictable in any context. If the speech is informative: give your information, support it with sources/facts, summarize your main points, and sit down. Any loaded words can be more easily managed to be disregarded in this form. If the speech is persuasive: use an attention-getter (humor, shock, etc.) state your beliefs, reinforce your opinion with sources/facts, use positive trigger words scattered throughout, summarize why your opinion is correct based on what you have spoken of, and sit down.
Do as the Speak King says, or you could be pulling the trigger on your own public speaking “execution.”
In the heat of the Presidential race, I’ve found it inevitable that the topic would reach its hands into my blog. It’s not by choice that I discuss this, but by association. The ability of the candidate to speak fluently, connect to the audience, and convey his/her message through the manner in which he/she speaks and manages image is the definition of successful public speaking. As the Presidential debates continue, it is important to understand just how significant a candidate’s public speaking abilities are to their success or failure in the realm of politics and public opinion.
I’m sure you’re reading this understanding the importance of public speaking in politics, but you are wondering, “Has public speaking really made a difference in the victor of a Presidential race?” The answer is yes. While it was also broadcasted on the radio, the 1960 Presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was the first to ever be aired on television. After the debate, according to the majority of the radio listeners, Nixon was declared the victor. On the contrary, Kennedy was crowned with the win by a vast majority of the 70 million television viewers. Why was this? Kennedy stared directly into the camera while “Tricky Dick” Nixon often shifted his gaze to the reporters in the room which seemed as if he was attempting to avoid eye-contact with the television viewers. The next month a record number of Americans took to the voting booths. Kennedy ended up winning by .2 percent of the vote. After the election, polls uncovered that over half of the voters were influenced by the televised debates, which legitimately could have been the extra push Kennedy needed over Nixon. Ever since, Presidential debates on television have become a norm and public speaking skills a necessity for voter support.
View the video below for a glimpse of what people saw when they watched the Presidential debate in 1960.
This marked a significant gain in the importance of public speaking by Presidential candidates after Kennedy beat Nixon by .2 percent in the 1960 Presidential election.