Awakening the great speaker within (Part 2)

Elliot Ziwira Senior Writer

In our last instalment we discussed the essence of speaking, not only as a component of learning as outlined in school curricula, but also as a life skill required for everyday interactions with fellow citizens.

There is a great speaker subdued in all of us; crying out to be heard. The speaker within should be given a chance to come out, for the world waits with bated breath for that special guest.

As outlined in the previous part, the whole idea behind any language is not to prepare candidates for examinations per se, but to enable them to respond effectively to any speech or listening situation that they may come across.

We discussed among others, who the speaker is, his/her purpose in communication, his/her knowledge of the subject and attitude towards the self, listeners and the topic under discussion.

This, instalment, therefore, picks up from the speaker’s attitude. If you missed the first part, visit The Herald website and look it up.

Speaking behaviours

The way you regard people you talk to influences your behaviour.

Your attitude can easily be discerned from the way you talk. Whatever you may be trying to conceal is usually read on your face. Your facial expressions will betray you as you try to express yourself.

Feelings of contempt, impatience, love, hurt and annoyance cannot be concealed easily. Therefore, your speaking behaviour will let you down. Gestures and body language are major components of the communication process, as such they should be used cautiously and effectively.

NB: We say more nonverbally than we say verbally.

The speaker’s credibility

Success in winning arguments, inspiring others, confidence or promoting action, depends upon the estimate of your worth and competency.

In that regard, you should make it clear from the onset what exactly you are worth. Listeners are usually impatient. Thus, a good speaker must be worth their time. Reputable speakers are of good character, trustworthy, alert, and friendly. They also dress well, and are sociable, with a thorough knowledge of their subjects.

When given a topic beforehand, always research before you embarrass yourself in front of your audience.

Because listeners are at liberty to avoid the listening task in preference to mere hearing, the competent speaker should draw their attention through effective use of introductions. Good introductions do not always state the obvious. You may start with a question, a quotation or statistics, before you introduce yourself and tell the audience why you are standing before them.

Consider the effect of such statistics as the following on your audience:

· One in every three accidents is caused by drunken driving

· Every 15 seconds a child is born HIV-positive in Africa

· One in every three women will be raped in her lifetime in South Africa

· A woman is raped every three seconds in South Africa

· 65 percent of the youth in Zimbabwe suffer mental breakdowns associated with stress, drugs and alcohol abuse

· 50 people are murdered down South everyday

“A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman; it speaks with authority,” informs Brendan Francis.

That’s the power of quotations.

Attention should then be sustained through a well-sequenced chain of ideas in the body. You should also remind your listeners why they should listen by telling them what they want to hear first before delving into the unknown.

Learn to gauge the mood of your audience by maintaining eye contact and taking a cue from the tell-tale signs of boredom, annoyance and impatience. A joke or two along the way may be the prescription that the doctor ordered.

You can also involve your listeners by asking them questions as this does not only ensure listening compliance, but will also build your confidence. You should remain in control of the process.

You are the one to remodel the perceptions of the audience and not the other way round. Refuse to be intimidated by individuals who may want to throw spanners in your wheel of success.

In conclusion, revisiting your major points is what drives your audience to a preferable action. People usually remember what is said last. You may also close with a question, statistics or a quotation.

Dare to be different? Start speaking now!

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