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Jan DArcy
  Making Your Speech Worthwhile

Your ability to speak well on your feet can help your career as much as any other skill you can develop. Here is Jan D'Arcy to show you how to make your speech worthwhile.

Dr. Vincent Hiser, an educator who had been working among the people of Samoa, was given an outdoor feast by the native island king. And when the time came to say some words of appreciation for the doctor's services, his majesty remained squatting while a professional orator brought in for the purpose gave a flowery tribute.

After listening to a long speech of commendation, Hiser rose to acknowledge this praise. But the king pulled him back. "Oh, don't get up. I have provided an orator for you. In Polynesia we don't believe that public speaking should be engaged in by amateurs." Whatever you feel about the sophistication of Polynesian civilization, public speaking is one area where they are further advanced than we are.

If you have had to sit through a speech with little content, poorly delivered by a nervous speaker, you know how uncomfortable the audience feels. Each of us would like to be looked upon as competent, reliable, informed. We would like to be perceived as qualified and intelligent. Many times we ask ourselves: Are other people really smarter or more decisive and intelligent than we are? Or do they seem that way because they present themselves and their ideas more effectively? Because no matter how creative we are, no matter how many problems we can solve, our ideas are only as valuable as our ability to express them and to persuade others to act upon them.

It is said that if we are able to get up and express our ideas, we are considered expert. And if we are able to do it well, we are considered a leader. Public speaking is the tool of leaders in professional life and in community activities. Leaders are expected to speak well, to articulate ideas when asked, preparation or no preparation. It is expected. They have the courage to get up in front of a group and have their ideas judged.

Public speaking is not an end in itself, for speaking is simply a vehicle for achieving results. There is an objective we wish to accomplish: to sell a product or a service, to pass on information, to persuade the whole department or a small gathering to do something. We would like to have what we say matter. To have others accept our ideas. To remember what we say and respond the way we want them to regardless of the situation.

Typically, I will receive a phone call from a client. "Jan, I have to give a speech next week to 60 people. I would like to hire you to help me." Translated, the tone of voice really says, "I have been condemned to die at 7:45 p.m. next Thursday. Can you make it less painful?"

Change that phone call to, "Jan, I have an opportunity to have the attention of 60 people for a full hour next week. I have something worthwhile to say to them that will be of value. I want to communicate my ideas the best way that I can. When can we get started?"

Public speaking is not a battle with the people in the audience. They are not your executioners. They want you to succeed.

Jimmy Stewart, the actor, said the most valuable advice he ever received was to make the audience a partner. After all, they've made an effort to be there. They're spending precious time and perhaps money to hear you speak. They want you to be good and make it worthwhile for them.

Now, here are two things you can do to improve the quality of any speech you make:

First, plan and prepare thoroughly in advance. Fully 90 percent of successful speaking is determined by how well you have thought through what you are going to say before you stand up to say it.

Second, make the audience a partner. Talk to them as you would talk to a group of good personal friends and always remember, they want you to succeed and give a good talk.


Copyright © 2000 TrueYou Inc. Pat. Pending