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J an D'Arcy
Communicating Effectively in a Speech

Your effectiveness in giving a speech is determined by how well you reach the objectives you have set for yourself. Here is Jan D'Arcy with some great ideas to make any speech you give more effective and to the point.


If your speech is to entertain, you may write, "When I finish speaking I want my audience to smile and applaud, roar with approval and give me a standing ovation and fall on the floor in hysterical laughter." Some after-dinner speeches are talks to motivate people to their highest potential, but they are about forty to eight-percent entertainment.

Speech is an art and it has certain limitations. Limitations of time, and audience, and situation. Many presenters will refer to time. "We don't have enough time to cover this whole subject. If we only had more time," and so forth. I always feel cheated, because they should know how much time they have been allotted and then decide if they can realistically reach their objective in that time span. If not, then they should choose another objective.

What if Michaelangelo said to one of his models, "I'm not including your head, because I don't have enough canvas." An artist is expected to take the size of his or her painting to only a portion of the body or to paint the whole figure, but from a distant view.

Can you present enough information in a scheduled time to persuade people to buy your ideas, product or services? It is much harder to persuade an audience if you have only ten minutes than if you have forty-five minutes. In a short speech you need to be more precise in defining your objective, more selective in the data you include, clear in your organization. Woodrow Wilson was asked to give a five minute speech and he said, "I'm really not prepared, "but when asked to talk for two hours he said, "Certainly, shall I start right now?"

If you were asked to speak for fifteen minutes on the future of space travel, current business trends or peace in our time, it would be necessary to limit your talk to one or two points. For example, if your topic is space travel, you could write, "After hearing my presentation, my audience will be able to summarize the medical goals of the next space shuttle flight." Your objective will be attainable in that time span.

A trick I learned from the Canadian author, Raymond Hull, was to write the sentence stating my specific speech objective with a large colored felt pen on a piece of paper and tape it above my typewriter or word processor. It was constantly in my vision and I could keep checking the relevancy of my words to my objectives. The written objectives will serve you as a guide throughout the entire preparation of your presentation.

Every main point, every supporting point and every visual aid can be measured against it to determine if they contribute to getting the response you want. Also you have a means of measuring your success simply by comparing what you want to accomplish in the beginning with what actually happens when you are finished speaking.

Try to design all your communication this way. It will save you a lot of time. Jot down the objectives of your phone calls, for example. Instead of thinking, "I am going to tell Mary I want that information on my desk at 11:00 on Friday or else," say to yourself, "When I finish talking to Mary, she will be able to identify two reasons why it is to her advantage to have that information on my desk by 11:00 on Friday." Then if Mary gets off into irrelevant matters, you will stay focused on your objective.


Now, here are two ideas you can use immediately to be a more effective public speaker.

First, write out a clear definition of the objective of your talk, before you begin. Refer continually to this written objective as you plan and structure your remarks.

Second, limit a planned or prepared speech to a maximum of two or three key points. Use more examples and fewer facts if you want to get your ideas across.


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