Check out the rest of this mini series if you've missed the previous sessions!
There are three main rhetorical appeals: ethos, logos, and pathos.
Ethos refers to the speaker's credibility. You can reinstate your ethos by describing your personal experience with the topic that you're discussing and how you might have some kind of expertise in the field. If you yourself do not have much experience, you can appeal to ethos by demonstrating that you have spoken to other experts on the topic. Positioning yourself within the subject matter helps people to understand why they should bother listening to you in the first place.
Logos is the appeal to logic. This includes statistics and factual information. Scientific explanations are usually seen as more credible than speculation, so logos appeals to rational minds. It is best to emphasize logos when you are facing a tough crowd, or one which you will need to persuade of your position.
Pathos appeals to the audience's emotions. Pathos is very difficult to deal with and should not be relied upon too heavily, as it may be interpreted as fear mongering, whiney, or too distanced from reason. Pathos should therefore be used to reinforce your ethos and logos, rather than be the main appeal overall.
More Rhetorical Terms to Think About
Kairos: this is an opening or an opportunity. Sometimes you yourself will deliberately make the opening- such as pausing in the middle of your speech to allow your words to sink in. Sometimes your opposition will say something unexpected, and there will be this "opening" in which you respond. You can take advantage of it to reinstate your point. Barack Obama made excellent use of this when he was recently accused, in the middle of a speech, "You lie!". The crowd gasped, and then Obama responded, when the audience quieted for a moment, with "That is not true". He handled the situation most admirably.
Exigence: this is some kind of urgency, need, or lack that needs to be addressed. It is good to think about exigence when you are constructing your speech and choosing the topic. What will people be curious about learning more about? What knowledge do they lack? What is important enough that it should be presented in front of an audience?
Order: this refers to the pattern of organization in your speech. The five main types of organization are Spatial Order (the main points follow a directional pattern ascending or descending), Chronological Order (the main points follow a time pattern), Causal Order (the main points show a cause-effect relationship), Problem-Solution Order (the main points deal with the existence of a problem and present a solution to the problem), and Topical Order (the main points divide the topic into logical and consistent subtopics).
Transitions: these are the links between your points within your speech so that the presentation operates smoothly. Transitions include phrases such as "now that we have seen..." or "not only does..." or "this brings me to..." and so on.
Refutio: these are the possible objections to the perspective you present in your speech. It is best to think ahead of time what possible objections people might make against your views, and to consider counterpoints against their arguments. By anticipating possible objections, you will learn more about your topic and be able to demonstrate to your audience just how knowledgeable you are and how much you have thought through your position, thus making your opinion more valid.
Check out the rest of this mini series if you've missed the previous sessions!
Now that your speech has been constructed and you have a solid understanding of your topic, it's time to think about the appropriate way to present your speech. Speech delivery has to do with your gestures, vocal modulation, posture, articulation, extemporaneous quality, and interaction with audience.
Charismatic individuals are the ones who really rock the delivery aspect of public speaking, but even us lowly mortals can learn how to frame our speech so that it is well-received.
Depending on the presentation, speech delivery can range from incredibly formal to relaxed conversational style. Regardless of the formality of the situation, it is always important to maintain a professional demeanor to help to build your ethos. You can increase the professionalism of your speech by wearing appropriate dress (nothing too casual- although you also don't want to go over-the-top wearing a suit and tie, unless you're at some sort of state event which requires such attire), and by standing straight and tall with the shoulders back. Slouching, rocking on your toes, and leaning against the podium all have the potential disadvantage of diminishing the credibility of your presentation. If you don't look the part, you will not be taken seriously by your audience.
Presenting a speech can be nerve-wracking, so this is why you want to practice a lot ahead of time in front of an audience to get a feel for what it will be like to stand in front of the crowd. Orators who give presentations whilst appearing to be at ease and in control are far more likely to gain approval from the audience than someone who fumbles over their words, fidgets, or looks petrified of the people before them. For those who are truly terrified of public speaking, the only way that you will get over your fear is by getting up there and putting yourself in the position of orator again and again until you grow comfortable with it.
Allow your personality to shine through in your speech, in a disciplined manner. The key here is to demonstrate your passion and genuine interest for the topic without going off on a tangent or beginning to rant, as your audience might lose respect for you if you do happen to lose control.
Speak loud enough that everyone in the room can hear you. Project forward. Assess your audience as you are speaking; if they are straining forward to hear your voice, you probably aren't being loud enough. But you also don't want to shout at them. Speaking slowly, clearly, and enunciating each word will also help your audience to understand what you are saying when you give your speech. Don't be afraid to breathe! Pausing to make solid eye contact and to let your words settle in everyone's minds is much better than interrupting your speech with "um" or "uh". Varying the tones of your voice can also help to convey your earnestness. Tempo change also has the affect of snapping the audience to attention if they start to drift off.
Delivery also involves physical expression beyond the vocal aspect. Make use of your hands to gesture when it feels natural; otherwise, place your hands on the podium or relax them at your sides. If you are using visual aids, gesture towards them when you are referring to them within your speech, and point to different parts when you find it to be relevant.
Use your facial expressions to get your point across. You can practice in the mirror to exaggerate your movements- remember, people at the back of the room can't quite see you, so if you exaggerate your movements just a touch, everyone will appreciate them without it appearing overly dramatic.
Being aware of your own unique quirks can be very useful to successful speech delivery. If you tend to drop the "g" on the end of words such as "going" or "doing", pay more attention to ensuring that you articulate every syllable of the word during your speech. Likewise, know which words and phrases you tend to use over and over. Common ones are "like", "y'know what I mean?", and "alright, so...". When you are aware of them, you are more capable of preventing yourself from using them. If you yourself do not know what words and phrases you use frequently, ask some friends- you might be surprised to learn that they hear and notice your "ticks" all the time!
Incorporating visual aids smoothly into your presentation is an important part of speech delivery. Only use them if they will add to your presentation. They should not be the bulk of your speech; instead, they should act as supporting material to supplement your speech.
When it comes to speech delivery, your best bet is to be yourself. Play to your strengths and stay natural to convey your sincerity and to relax yourself, too.
Check out the rest of this mini series if you missed them last week!
After having researched your speech so that you have a working knowledge of the subject and can properly format it into a good quality presentation, it's time to arrange the speech so that it is well-received. That's where design comes in.
There are three main parts to your speech: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
The introduction should be fairly short, taking up less than a quarter of your entire speech. You want to grab the audience's attention and also to maintain their interest. The first few lines of your speech can make a huge difference depending on the wording that you use to pique the audience's curiosity so that they want to hear what you have to say. Opening with a controversial statement, a startling statistic, or a quote can all have the rhetorical effect of getting attention.
It's also important that your audience understands why your presentation is relevant to them in particular. Why should they care what you have to say? Think about this when you're forming your argument. Briefly outline what you will talk about in your presentation so that the audience is aware of how your speech is going to play out and the issues that you will address.
The body of the presentation is comprised of the main points of your speech. Choose a couple main points and have a few sub-points for each. These points should be balanced and each should be allotted roughly the same amount of time and emphasis. Think about the best way to arrange your points so that they make sense. If you are looking at the history and future of something, a chronological ordering will be highly useful. If it's a cause-effect topic, you can arrange it in that order. Whatever arrangement you choose (and there are many to choose from), it should be suitable to your topic and style of presentation.
The last part of your presentation is the conclusion, where you wrap up your speech. The conclusion consists of a brief summary of your main points and some kind of memorable statement in closing. As with the introduction, it should be short and concise. There is no need to go on at length, or your conclusion will simply become an extension of the body of the presentation.
Tip: While you're constructing your speech, be sure to make it flow really well. You don't want it to be disjointed. The points that you make should be related to one another and the audience should be able to see what direction you are going in. Refer back to earlier points that you made to refresh your audience's memory and to re-emphasize the importance of them.
Check out Part One: Introduction to Public Speaking if you missed it on Tuesday!
Preparing and Researching the Speech
Before the actual act of presenting the speech, preparing for it is essential. Ideally, you want to know your speech so well that you could easily talk about the subject for twice as long as the time allotted to you. After any kind of presentation, there is usually some form of interaction between presenter and audience, usually in the form of a question-and-answer session. It is during this period that the audience can really tell if you know your subject or if your entire speech was based around information that you don't actually understand. How well you respond to their questions and the richness that you give to your answers will provide them with a solid knowledge of whether you are reputable or if your speech was simply a bunch of words hastily strung together half an hour before.
Knowing your topic and knowing your audience are both essential to presentation preparation:
Knowing your topic involves a working understanding of the topic itself. This includes the history and future of your topic as well as what's going on with it right now. It also includes knowing the inherent problems within the subject, and the counter arguments against such problems so that you can defend your topic. Statistics and factual information from reputable sources are great tools to support your argument. Interviewing "experts" or even laypeople about the subject beforehand, and having personal experience with the topic, also contribute to a greater understanding of it. You should be aware of the positives and negatives of it and have some idea about why this topic is so important (and relevant!) to your audience.
Knowing your audience involves knowing who the audience is and what they want. You can formulate your speech based on your audience's beliefs. If you know that they will be sympathetic to your mission, you can likely present in a more informal fashion, appealing to the audience's emotions. If it's a tough audience that you're up against, it is better to adopt a professional demeanor and to rely on statistics and data to support your material. What does your audience want? What are they interested in? Why do they care about your presentation? You need to know all of these things before deciding on the angle that your speech will take.
It is always good to have plenty of variety in your research. Check out as many different sources as you can so that your knowledge is as well-rounded as it can be. Talk to people on both sides of the issue, check out Internet sources, academic journals, books, magazines, and other documents, and get as much hands-on experience as you can in the field of your topic. You want to know your information so well that if someone asked you to present your topic in a few different ways with several opposing perspectives, you'd be able to take on the challenge.
While you're researching and preparing for the speech, be sure to time yourself practicing it. Even if you don't have an actual "time restriction", it is good to have an idea of how long your speech is. Practice your presentation in front of test subjects to make sure that they understand what you are trying to convey and so that you know that your information is presented clearly. Practice in front of a mirror to ensure that your delivery- the way you gesture, your stance, and your facial expression- is appropriate. If you are using visual aids, always practice with them. If it is possible, you should go to the room you will be presenting in to check that you know where all of the presentation equipment is so that you know ahead of time how to access and use it.
Above all, when researching and preparing for your presentation, know the information. If something goes wrong in the speech and your cue cards fail you, you should be able to have enough of a working understanding of the topic to draw from your brain so that you aren't relying on cue cards and visual aids. Understand your topic rather than just memorizing it!
Introduction to Public Speaking
Presentations and communicating from behind a podium are something of a rarity. Unless you're a political figure r have made a breakthrough in your field of study, it is entirely possible for you to spend you entire life dodging that terrifying thing known as giving a presentation.
One of the courses that I had very little choice to take in order to get my degree is Oral Communication. I was reluctant to take it because presenting was not my strong suit, nor was it something I really enjoyed. But if fit nicely into my schedule and I adore the professor teaching the course, so I signed up.
Two months later, I love standing up in front of an audience to perform and say my piece. My presentation skills have improved dramatically and my comfort level with speaking to a group of people has increased substantially.
Over the next few posts, we're going to examine the art of presenting. It is a fundamental skill that everyone really should be able to do, but few people are capable of carrying out with ease. I hope to demonstrate that the art of public speaking is a talent that anyone can develop and even master with time, patience, and perseverance. Lots of practice and a solid effort can make all the difference. This is all information that I have learned from my fantastic Oral Communication class at the University of Winnipeg.
The agenda for this little how-to is so far as follows:
Throughout, I'll give examples of public oratory as well. Let me know if there are any other topics you'd be interested in exploring and we'll see if we can incorporate them into our Giving a Presentation sessions!