What is public speaking and what makes it so important? Public speaking is the process of speaking in a structured manner in front of an audience with the intent to inform, influence or entertain them. It’s a very important subject to learn, because at least once in their lives, people will have to speak in front of an audience and understanding public speaking can come in handy.
Public speaking and speeches
The speeches a lot of people would be familiar with may be those made by celebrities when receiving an award, but that is in fact not considered public speaking.
To qualify a speech as public speaking, a speaker must have a speech that is structured and may even tell a story or narrative. Some speeches may be written and memorized before the actual presentation, but others may be impromptu, but the speech must be cohesive and flow well for the audience to understand. After all, public speaking is used to inform, influence and entertain.
As public speaking is done to inform, influence or entertain an audience, some form of structure is needed in a speech. However, memorizing an actual story or coming up with one on the spot isn’t needed.
In public speaking, storytelling is one of the ways to grab an audience’s attention with a small anecdote that’s related to the speech’s topic. With storytelling, members of the audience can start imagining the events the orator or speaker is talking about, and this is usually one of the most-remembered portions of a speech.
Even with technology such as microphones and speaker system, public speakers still rely on the strength of their voices to get their messages across. The volume of a person’s voice is very important. If a speaker’s voice is too soft, no one will be able to hear them, but if it’s too loud, people may think they’re shouting.
The tone of voice is also important, as there must be some emotion injected into it for the speaker to avoid sounding like they are speaking about something boring, but not too much that the speech seems overdone or overly flamboyant.
Vocabulary and word choice
The speech must fit the tone and mood of the topic at hand to better appeal to the audiences.
For example, if the speech makes use of a lot of slang in a formal gathering, it may be seen as crude or inappropriate. Similarly, using formal language or technical jargon in a casual setting would confuse the audience and cause some to stop listening.
Gestures and body language
The way a speaker moves and commands their body is a very important part of public speaking, as all eyes are on them. If a person fidgets or fails to act well, then it may be obvious that they’re nervous, and no one will bother listening to them. If they use too many flamboyant gestures or walk everywhere while on-stage, the audience will be distracted. However, a good public speaker tends to use gestures and their stance to help with the message of their speech. For example, when a speech calls for a strong tone, the speaker may stand straight and even raise a fisted hand to complement their words.
Body language also involves eye contact, and this means looking at the audience. This does not mean making direct eye contact with each member of the audience, but instead means simply looking at them and even making sure that they are still listening and that the speech is still effective. Keeping eye contact is also a good way to connect to the audience so they don’t feel isolated or like they’re watching a person monologuing without reason.