Category Archives: Public Speaking in the Real World

A World Without Public Speaking

All comedic thoughts aside: can you imagine a world without public speaking? The Speak King has built his empire on conquering fear and ruling the stage. He’s had bountiful success with performing for his people, informing and persuading them along the way. Without public speaking, his majesty would not have reigned. Not only would the Speak King’s life been drastically changed, but also everyone else’s as well. Sit and ponder the possibilities. If the importance of public speaking is not brought to the forefront of your mind, then take this in. Where would our history be without the people who stood up and made history just by the words they spoke in public. It wouldn’t even stop there though. Fundamental life would forever be altered. Everyday we have interactions with multiple people at a time. We all speak in public everyday (well, unless you have taken a vow of silence according to your title or culture). You could be thinking, “My life doesn’t even entail any public speaking or presentations,” but there’s no doubt that you say “hello” to your neighbors. You talk to your family. You tell a joke to your coworkers at the watercooler at your place of work. We communicate with those around us. Communication is defined as the “transfer of meaningful information that can be understood.” Anything that sends a message is communication, and there are many ways that a message can be conveyed:

1) Body Language
2) Writing
3) Facial Expressions
4) Sounds
5) Touch
6) Media
7) Posture
8) Hand Gestures

All of these aspects define communication and, therefore, lend themselves hand-in-hand with public speaking. Basic human nature is to build relationships with one another and communication of some sort is essential to any human interaction. Without public speaking, we would lack the ability to flourish or develop. Public speaking is something that can’t be taken away without losing our soul as a species. So, if you’ve gathered anything from this blog during these past few months I want it to be this: public speaking is nothing to fear, but rather embrace. It is what will leave a mark on history. It is what your foundations of life are built upon. Your reputation, your relationships, your integrity, your presence, your success, and your life are all factored by several critical things, one of which is your ability to communicate ideas and opinions through public speaking.

The Speak King now relieves himself of his throne. It is yours for the taking.



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Making History

We all know of speeches that have been considered as the best throughout the history of human civilization. So, what makes them so, well, historic? What makes someone worthy of being knighted by the Speak King, as both Patrick Henry and Winston Churchill have? I would easily say that circumstance and timeliness plays a large hand in the gravity of what one says. There must be a situation that arises to cause a man or woman to rise up, break out of their normalcy, and take the throne of a “speak king.” Furthermore, there must be a man/woman full of the characteristics that fuel the flame of the perfect circumstance. The individual making the speech at the vital time must be passionate, immersing themselves in their speeches. Their voice differentiates, they pause, and they emphasize importance with stress on certain sentences and body language. I would say that these two things (time/place and character) rely on one another directly. However, to even scratch the legacy of the greatest speeches ever, your speech itself must hold up under its own weight.

There are three aspects to a successful, memorable speech: style, substance, and impact. The first component, style, is obvious in the viewing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. There is no more powerful speech since the dawning of man that carries more significance and power than this. King paints a picture in the listener’s mind with imagery and rattles with unparalleled ferocity throughout, which drives home the fact that the listener SHOULD care and SHOULD listen to what he has to say. The metaphors used by King are masterfully constructed, envoking specific emotions and key times while he’s speaking. His style is flawless in his delivery and his content.

The second facet of great oratory is substance. Any speech can be full of metaphors, imagery, flawless diction, and charasmatically presented, but empty on substance. A historic speech must be centered on a critical theme, show resolve in its own message, and resonate with the audience. “The Gettysburg Address” written and spoken by Abraham Lincoln is a shining example of substance. Some could say that there are three foundations of American freedom: The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. Abraham Lincoln did not acknowledge the lives that had been lost at the Battle of Gettysburg, any soldier’s names, either sides who were waging war, states rights, nor of Gettysburg itself. Instead, he questioned whether government could keep its proposal of equality and continue to move towards it. A speech like this with the meaning it carried during the time it was spoken, changed American history forever.

The final key aspect of an incredible speech is impact. A life-changing speech is on that lifts up hearts in times when they have been pulled to the floor. It spreads hope in times when hope is spread thin. A memorable speech inspires, refines, and honors. The impact must have its resonance not only with the audience, but with history itself. A demonstration of a speech with profound impact is Mahatma Gandhi’s “Quit India” speech. His proposition of a non-violent movement pointed straight at the rule of Britain in India. On August 8, 1942 Gandhi rallied Indians and called for the passing of the Quit India Resolution which demanded complete independence from British rule. Though he was thrown in jail, his message was not caged and spread a fire through the people of India. The impact of Gandhi’s message planted the seed in the Indian people that led to Britain’s relinquishing of India and a monumental moment in history.


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Trigger Words: What are They and When Can I Pull the Trigger?

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.”

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Public Speaking and Presidential Elections

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.


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A Clip of the First of the Debates from the 1960 Presidential Election (Kennedy/Nixon)

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.

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October 10, 2012 · 7:40 pm