By Sheila Waswa
Published October 29, 2016
There is nothing that commands as much following for a person as the ability to speak well. Experts argue that great speakers must steer clear of jargon; that simplicity is the best form of sophistication. And that anyone, including you, can be a great speaker. But only if you do the following things:
- Have a Message
You must have a clear and concise message for the intended listener or audience, says Ogova Ondego in a guide for communicators titled How to Write on 1001 Subjects!
- Read Widely
A great speaker must read widely and intensively. Reading equips you with both facts and the vocabulary for sharing knowledge with others. Great speakers have been known to refer to facts that bring them out as specialists. The only reason why people develop the urge to listen is because they expect to learn something new.
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A great speaker is an attentive listener. Listening exposes you to points various views, enabling you to get different perspectives of tackling issues in life.
- Be Organised!
Speaking is an art that is learned through practice. To speak well and effectively, you must think logically and coherently, according to ComMattersKenya-published How to Write on 1001 Subjects!
It pays off to carry short notes or an outline of your speech to assist you in maintaining a coherent flow as you deliver your speech.
- Know your Audience
Knowing your audience enables you to know what appeals to them and what doesn’t. This will help you in choosing appropriate vocabulary and not use what How to Write on 1001 Subjercts! refers to as “unnecessarily long or obscure words purely to impress.”
“Though a simple and concise language should be always used, an extensive vocabulary can assist greatly in the task of expressing messages clearly and unambiguously.”
- Use Appropriate Language
“A well spelled vocabulary may provide the building blocks for communication,” says How to Write on 1001 Subjects! but “grammar has been described as the mortar which holds them together.
- Don’t Rush
Great speakers do not rush through their speeches. They calculate each move and design each sentence structure in a way that gives maximum impact to the audience. Speaking slowly also gives you enough time to think before you utter your next sentence. Speaking fast is not necessarily a show of intelligence.
A great speaker is an avid thinker. Your words must not leave room for ambiguity.
- Use Humour; where possible!
There is nothing wrong about throwing a joke in the middle of a speech. A joke breaks tension; it makes the audience to feel more comfortable and also attentive. Jokes, however, should be used sparingly, based on the type of event and mood of the audience.
- Be original
Don’t try to ape another speaker. You must have a unique style that sets you apart.
- Be bold
Great speakers must know where they are going in order to command a following; you must believe in what you speak about in order to persuade your audience to act on your message.
South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah are some of the greatest orators known to have taken strong stands on their belief systems.
While Nkurumah’s “We must Unite or Die in OAU” as he called for ‘African Unity’ in Addis Ababa is a classic because of his boldness, Mandela’s “Prepared to Die” during his trial in 1962 stated that he was ready to die for his people to be liberated.
- Dress Appropriately
Your dressing will make the audience to either anticipate to listen to you or to put you off as a joker. Dressing is communication; how you dress sends out certain messages to your listeners.
Speeches must be drafted, written, re-written, revised and rehearsed before delivery.
Watch recordings of great speakers. See how they organise their work; how they utilise their floor area; and how they make use of the non-verbal cues and learn their unique styles. Then devise your own ways while aiming to be better and original.
Look for as many opportunities as possible to give speeches