- Be simple
From clarity of thought simplicity emerges. And the simpler the language the greater the appeal. A really effective speaker is one who can explain the most difficult or complex matter in the simplest language to a layman. Every educated person studies some subject in detail; likewise every worker having sufficiently long hand experience in a particular area becomes a kind of specialist. As a result, both the scholar and the worker pick up a special variety of language known as jargon. No audience likes to listen to jargon. They can be patient only with the simplest language. Otherwise they are likely to be bored and distracted.
- Furnish Concrete details
Many speakers spoil their speeches by talking in abstractions or marshalling platitudes. An effective speaker, on the other hand, makes his speech vivid by furnishing details and actual experiences to capture the attention of the audience. Such attention to speech makes it ‘full of life’ that is the literal meaning of the word ‘vivid’. It is therefore, very important for a speaker to makes his speech lively and brilliant with eye – catching details, humorous anecdotes, relevant examples and enthusiastic eye – to – eye contact with the audience.
- Cultivate effortless grace and naturalness
“Many things”, says C.s. Lewis “such as loving, going to sleep or behaving unaffectedly – done worst when we try hardest to do them”. Perhaps everybody reading this book knows that a cultured person moves and speaks with grace and sounds natural. But then, there are circumstances in which it is really hard to act/speak naturally. When we are face – to – face with a large, selected audience, and have to make an important speech it is quite natural to be conscious, perhaps over conscious, and, for the moment, to find it difficult to be natural. We have to devise our own ways to look, move and speak with grace. Practicing to speak in front of a mirror is a very common advice. Another is to find a popular television anchor/personality and emulate his/her ways.
- Enrich your mental equipment
Every effective speaker is a learned/well informed person. As the old Greek proverb says, “Out of nothing, nothing comes”. So, we must remember that for every occasion, and for every kind of speech, the armament is a well stocked mind – a mind stocked/equipped with all kinds of information/facts/figures/general awareness/readings in literature and philosophy, current affairs, economic and political developments, new advancements in science and technology, emergence of new business organizations and so on. Having the right kind of information for the right moment is an essential condition of speaking effectively.
- Be brief
Having a lot of information does not mean that one can go on rambling or going into unnecessary details. It means that one has to take care not only of the quantity of information but also of the quality of speech. As Benjamin Franklin has said, ‘time money’. All that is superfluous must be cut out in order to make the speech concise. Every word we speak is valuable, and there are no words to waste.
- Be informal
To occasion may be formal but the speaker must strive to give his speech a personal touch. That is the only way to establish rapport with the audience and to create an impression that will last. Informality creates nearness.
- Be enthusiastic
Making an effective speech is not just a matter of doing a duty wily nilly or performing a ritual one has to get into the spirit of the occasion with enthusiasm and keen interest. Only then will the speaker and the audience be able to empathise with each other. No one likes to listen to a dull or monotonous speaker. But an enthusiastic speaker gets an immediate response. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- Mind your non – verbal language
Effective use of gestures is a necessary component of speech whether prepared or unpromptupope john Paul is known for his excellent use of arms while addressing the congregation. In the same way good eye contact is indispensable.
As has been discussed earlier in this book, paralanguage is also an important component of effective speech. Anybody aspiring to be a good speaker must, therefore, keep training himself in voice modulation, use of proper word stress and even in the use of ‘Nonfluencies’.
- Remember that facts and figures are not enough
In facts and figures had been enough there would have been no speeches. Anybody can have access to facts and figures. They can just be circulated or blandly stated. But a speech puts life into the dry bones of facts and figures. They are just like a skeleton. It is imaginative and effective use of language in speech/writing that breathes life into that skeleton and supplies it with flesh and blood. Many great entrepreneurs, chairpersons, statesmen and scholars are known for their oratory that stems from their command of language.
- Control your emotions, but make an emotional appeal
What comes from the heart goes to the heart. Every human being is full of emotions. But an effective speaker cannot afford to be carried away by his emotions. On the other hand, while exercising poise and maintaining composure, he can stir up his audience to action. His job is not just to inform but also to convince and influence his audience. That is how many speeches become memorable.
- Share your significant experiences/expertise with your listeners
It will not only give a personal touch to the speech, but also confidence to the speaker and comfort to the listeners. It will make the audience feel important to the speaker.
Two sample speeches: In the light of the ongoing discussion let us examine the two speeches reproduced below:
Both the speeches are very good examples of the classical axiom that all speech/writing/piece of discourse has three parts: a beginning, middle, and an end. In this respect both the speeches are very well drafted. Any reader/listener can easily identify the three parts. Only religiously following the principle ‘Be Clear’ makes it possible. Both the speeches have sub – headings for this purpose.
The beginning of both the speeches is somewhat ritualistic in nature. It is, indeed, customary for a chairman to welcome the guests/invitees to the meeting in which his speech is to be delivered. It does not take much time, nor does it need many words. But some speakers do speak a bit more than others even while welcoming the guests. As they say “The style is the man”. We can see this difference in the styles of address when we compare the two speeches. While the opening sentence of the first speech is warmer in its tone, the speaker in the second speech tends to come nearer to the listeners through the conversational nature of his discourse. He addresses the listeners more than once.
The middle of the speech constitutes its main body. In both the cases we identify the following common points-
- An overview of the current economic situation of the country.
- A brief history or ‘performance review’ of the company.
- Main problems/achievements of the company during the year under review.
- Any changes in the organisation.
- Rights issue dividend etc.
- A look to the future.
The conclusion is also a kind of ritual. Its primary function is to thank all the listeners and concerned parties. In both the speeches it has been done very well though in slightly different words. While in the first speech a separate paragraph has been devoted to thanks to the parent organization in the second speech the singular distinction earned by the organization has been high – lighted.
Now let us look at the ‘effectiveness’ part of the two speeches. As has been said above, both have served their purpose rather well. But a second look at them shows the difference in their degree of effectiveness. The first speech shows its emotional aspect while lamenting the state of Indian economy and then, in the third paragraph, every meaningfully uses figurative language as in these sentences. “Even one billion strong nations cannot reach the moon by holding hands. It will need the thrust to break through the earth’s gravitational pull’. But soon after this the speaker comes down to succinctly stated, matter – of – act business and sounds impersonal.
The second speech is more rhetorical and conversational in nature. Right from the beginning the speakers establishes a one – to – one, eye – to – eye contact with the audience. See the difference between the openings.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen …” (First speech)
“Ladies and Gentlemen”.
I welcome you to this………..” (Second speech).
Immediately, the speaker strikes rapport – with the use of ‘I’ and ‘you’. He recounts his own experience to enliven the speech and comes nearer to the audience/readers by addressing them again midway in this way, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it may surprise you to know……” Then the speaker in the second speech puts rhetorical questions like these: “Does the Indian Industry, after attaining the age of 50 years, need to continue to look for ‘technical collaborations’ form abroad, in every conceivable industry?’’ “Why do some nations or industries baulk at technical collaboration?’’ “If other developed countries in the west can do this, and continue to do this, why should India feel shy to stand for its own? “If the super powers and other developed countries can adopt measures to protect their vital industries. Why should India do any differently?” Such questions carry answers and messages loud and clear.
Besides these questions the speaker also makes forceful assertions like these:
“Indian national companies must be given an elevated playing field”.
“MRF excels in non – tyre activities too”.
“Economic nationalism: The justifiable fight of an aspiring nation”.
Besides rhetorical questions and forceful assertions, the writer/speaker of this speech – makes deft use of pauses, periods, question marks, exclamation marks, and inverted commas – all the instruments of well orchestrated speech/writing.
In this way we see that, while both the speeches are well planned and clearly delivered, the second one is the more effective of the two by sheer use of rhetorical devices. In the world of business there is not much scope for thundering oratory or use of flower language as in politics or literary seminars. But one can always gain profitable insights from all sources to write and deliver effectives speeches.
Here, it is worthwhile to point out that people in business, as in any other field, have learnt the art of speaking very effectively and profitably by emulating great speakers. For this purpose they miss no opportunity to listen to famous speakers of their times and to read great speeches published. All successful men in business are keen to learn as much the art of speaking and putting across their ideas as any other thing. We are told that G.D. Birla, besides being one of the greatest businessmen of our century, was an avid reader and powerful speaker for all occasions. The speeches of Nani Palkhiwala are eagerly awaited and carefully listened to. It is indeed a matter of great pleasure, as also of great profit, to see how great speakers – whether in business or in any other sphere – use the language at their command, and say the same thing that we feel in their own unique way. Let us look at the excerpts of five of the greatest speeches of modern times give below.
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: THE 1993 INAUGURATION
WINSTON CHURCHILL: BEFORE PARLIAMENT IN JUNE 1940
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU: 14 AUGUST 1947, ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENCE
JOHN F. KENNEDY: 1961 INAUGURATION
The ability to speak impromptu i.e., to speak on the spur of the moment is, in fact, more important than to prepare a speech on a subject/topic announced in advance for a particular occasion. It is all the more important in the context of an organization. All organizational decisions are group decisions, taken mostly in a committee room or around a table. This situation involves a group each member of which is supposed to contribute to the decision making process. Nobody can exactly visualize in advance what turn the discussion will take. Speaking impromptu is, therefore, a necessary part of day – to – day communication in an organization. Moreover the demands of modern business, the fast pace at which one has to work, mover around, and talk and take decisions leave hardly any time for long preparation. The following guidelines are of immense help in this regard.