Describe someone you've heard in person and think is an effective speaker. What makes them effective? Which of their characteristics can you incorporate into your speech? What makes an enjoyable speech? What are some things you can do to ensure your speech is enjoyable?
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Back in 1980 I saw the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau speak while on a campaign stop in the Province of Ontario. It was a hot day in a school auditorium and he spoke to a partisan audience on his vision for Canada. What struck me was how he spoke "off-the-cuff", with no notes whatsoever, and no teleprompter or any similar device. He spoke from his heart - passionately - and his eyes locked on his audience as if he was speaking to each one individually.
Mr. Trudeau was well-versed in all he spoke about. He deeply believed in his platform, whether others did or not, and he wasn't afraid to trumpet his views in a direct and powerful manner through rousing oratory. I believe that being knowledgeable and passionate about a subject, and giving a speech as if you were in a room giving it to one person is the key to successful speeches and connecting with your audience.
The speaker who struck me most and has stayed with me longest impressed because she wasn't in any kind of a hurry (unlike myself ...). She spoke slowly and articulated distinctly. Yet, she never for a second lost her hold on the audience. She capitalized on this by bringing ironic wit to her speech, telling anecdotes that illustrated her points but didn't add distracting "fluff" details. Another thing she did was to interject rhetorical questions here and there throughout. Though there was no forum for us to answer these questions (since they were rhetorical ...), they helped to focus our thoughts on a thematic idea and helped to crystallize the importance and relationship of the ideas presented.
This post will be very different from the others so far. The person I found to be a very persuasive, dynamic speaker is my former priest. I am no longer a practicing Catholic for many reasons, but this man still has an effect on my life. His speaking techniques were familiar such as challenging topics handled in passionate, personal ways. I was challenged in my beliefs and how I lived them. He spoke directly to his audience, standing away from the lectern and moving around the space to look at people directly as he spoke. Passionate in conveying what he had learned in the inner city parishes of Chicago, he spoke of the humbling experiences he had had using phrases and gestures learned there. He understood his audience, often using self deprecating humor to make a point. He knew, just as I believe, that humor is essential in a speech, even a very serious speech. But most of all, by speaking from the heart to the heart of everyone there, he taught me to look within myself for what my life should be and how much further I could go.
Julian Bond is one of the most effective and interesting speakers I have had the opportunity to hear in person. He speaks with a passion for the cause of civil rights, and speaks with compassion about non-violent protest. Julian Bond was pivotal in the Civil Rights Movement and was the first black US vice-presidential candidate.
In the annals of the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, the career of the politician, activist, and educator Julian Bond holds a unique place. Bond's work on behalf of social justice spans the period from the 1960s to the early 2000s. ... Through his legislation, writing, teaching, and planning for legal affairs groups, Bond is widely recognized as an intellectual leader of the contemporary CIVIL RIGHTS movement. http://www.enotes.com/bond-horace-julian-reference/bond-horace-julian
He leaves the listener hanging for just a moment, and then swoops in with a startling revelation or fact, and then lets that settle for a moment. Many famous public speakers, such as Julian Bond, have several versions of the same speech they use for various occasions. The turn of an eloquent phrase, a hanging pause at the precise moment, these are thespian techniques learned in the Public Speaking arena to ensure success. One means of doing this is to actually memorize the speech, and have the moments of intensity marked on the papers one is using. As the speech is delivered, the content is memorized, yet appears to flow smoothly and with emotion. An extremely effective public speaker is an actor upon a stage.
I have been fortunate to hear in person these speakers: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Alex Hailey, Bob Hope, and Carl Albert. Of course, each of them has (had) their own speaking style. Each is dynamic in his own way.
A great speaker must have certain qualities to satisfy his audience. These characteristics might be called the four P's of public speaking:
Purposeful-His words are easy to follow because he knows where he is going. The objectives for his speech are clear.
Provocative-The subject and words the speaker chose must be challenging and stimulating.
Passionate-The audience will not accept the ideas of someone that does not believe in what he is saying. Speaking come from the brain to the heart to the mouth. All three must be present.
Playful-Humor is not an option in speaking. The wise orator engages his audience through anecdotes and personal references. These stories serve to humanize and authenticate this speaker as a down-to-earth person who relates easily to his audience.
With these qualities in mind, I would choose Bill Clinton. He is a master communicator. When giving an actual prepared speech, the former President relates his ideas through strong word choices and easy to follow structure. Along with the meat of the speech, Clinton also has the technique of using a calming demeanor with his eye contact and facial expressions. Although he is famous for his "too long speech" at the Democratic Convention when he first came into the national scene, Clinton learned his lesson. Succinctness and clarity have overtaken his verbosity.
Clinton's real secret to success as a public speaker is found in his body language. He conveys (probably accurately) that he is a man who enjoys speaking and sharing his thoughts with his audience. One of Clinton's famous statements is evidence of his colloquial yet brilliant philosophy for America:
There is nothing wrong in America that can't be fixed with what is right in America. If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person.
The mark of a great speaker is the confidence that shines through from his entire being. Clinton's love for America and his joy at being a respected statesman will place him alongside Reagan as one of the great presidential orators.
My doctoral graduation featured Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the Geodesic dome. His speaking voice and his style were, of course, superb, but what made his speech stand out from the literally hundreds I have heard before or since was the connection he made between his subject—how to avoid self-censorship of ideas—and his audience—hundreds of smart, educated, young thinkers in dozens of disciplines. He never “performed”; his whole attitude was one of passing on personal life-lessons to the listener. It wasn’t a lecture, in which he handed down “wisdoms” to underlings; it was a “welcoming hand” to the dazed and sometimes contradictory world of intellectual inquiry, and especially, “life-work.” This phrase, differing from “profession” or “occupation,” gave the listeners a life-long focus and direction. So, the secret of good public speaking, then is to not teach the listener, or even to convince the listener, but to engage the listener in a new inquiry, a new way of looking at the topic.
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