Our capacity to communicate through systems of language differentiates us from other species, but the use of that language to communicate effectively is actually harder than anticipated, particularly in front of an audience. Fortunately, by reading this book, you can learn the skills required to communicate more effectively one-on-one and in a speaking situation.
The speeches you present will be given in a particular context. In your role as communicator, you will encode and deliver a message which will then be decoded by audience members (also communicators). At the same time you are speaking, you will be receiving verbal and nonverbal feedback from the audience. The way that the message is decoded will depend entirely on the amount of noise interfering with the message as well as the worldviews of audience members.
Every new speaker should work to become skilled at the eleven core public speaking competencies. These competencies include: selecting a useful topic, writing an engaging introduction, organizing the points of the speech, finding effective supporting materials for the points, adding a conclusion that provides closure, using clear and vivid language, making sure that one’s vocal expression corresponds to the goals of the speech, using nonverbals that complement the message, adapting the message to one’s audience, using visual aids effectively, and using credible evidence and sound reasoning in persuasive messages. Each one of the competencies just listed is covered in depth in one or more chapters in this book.
The authors of this textbook hope that readers will find the chapters useful in developing their own communication competence. Whether you are new to giving presentations, or a more experienced speaker, it is important to remember that the best way to improve your public speaking skills is through preparation and practice. Although it may take time to learn effective speaking skills, the effort is well worth the benefits you will reap in your personal, professional, and public life.
An effective speaker knows that the success or failure of his talk is not for him to decide—it will be decided in the minds and hearts of his hearers. – Dale Carnegie
- What are the personal, professional and public benefits of enhancing your public speaking skills?
- What is the difference between the linear and transactional model of communication?
- Define and give an original example of each of the elements of the communication process.
- Which of the elements of the communication process do you think has the greatest impact on the way a message is interpreted. Explain.
- What are the three types of speeches? For each of the three types of speeches, give two examples of an occasion or situation in which that type of speech might be given.
- List the eleven speaking competencies. For each competency listed, describe the differences between the advanced speaker and the inexperienced speaker.
- Working in groups of 3–5, generate a list of the characteristics of ineffective speakers you have seen. Next, generate a list of the characteristics of the effective speakers you have seen. What three qualities do you believe are most important to be a successful speaker? Explain.
- Locate a speech on YouTube. While watching the speech, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the speaker’s content and delivery? What three things could the speaker improve on? What three things did you like about the speaker? If you were to deliver the speech, how would you do things differently?
- Locate a copy of the Public Speaking Competence Rubric. Read through each of the levels of each of the competencies, and try to determine what your level of skill is for each of the speaking competencies. If you are able, have a friend or colleague watch one of your speeches and ask him or her to evaluate your level of skill for each of the competencies. Compare your responses to see how much correspondence there is between your responses and the evaluator’s responses. In what areas are you strongest? What do you need to improve upon?