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Public Speaking

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Public speaking elicits nervousness and that is normal. However, a lot of nervousness can be detrimental where the objective of the speaker, which could be to inform, entertain or influence the listeners, may be lost. In order to be able to deliver clear, consistent and credible information eloquently the speaker must the learn the art of using gestures, voice inflection, pitch variation, use of imagery and most importantly the ability to capture the attention of the audience  and develop a good relationship with them. There is a lot to learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech ‘I Have a Dream’ and President Obama in the speech he made on the presidential inauguration date.

The speech ‘I Have a Dream’ by Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed racism in the US as at August 8, 1963. It was in the first person perspective and this was tactically meant to make it personal to all Americans, without discrimination. The theme of the speech became the opening remark of every paragraph where this repetition indicated future orientation of the desire to have a nation where all people would be treated equally irrespective of their skin color. King tactically alluded to the immediate physical and geographical environment of the Americans to make it clear that all ought to share the dream with him irrespective of whether one came from Mississippi, Alabama, California, New York or the Rocky Mountains areas. Itwas the dream of every American. He metaphorically referred to the people as valleys, hills and mountains. All he longed for was to have rough places made plain and the yearning to see the crooked straightened. He used simple language to make sure he was clearly understood while all the imagery, repetition and allusion to the bible and the environment made his information vivid. He inspired many and to date the world remembers him for that.

President Obama moved the masses with the words of his tongue and his wealth of wisdom. Many cried as they listened to him but probably they would not if someone else gave the same speech. He aired his speech consistently with a major concentration on the historical information and a prescriptive way. His speech was also in the first person perspective plural ‘we’. He organized his speech in chronological order of events that the Americans could relate to and thereafter made it clear that the way to the desired state was only through unity where everyone had a role to play. He used figurative language, reminded people of his and their past and what the needed to do to better their future. He speaking tone varied as the information required him. He would gesture to enhance his information and pause at some point to allow the message to sink and just like King he used a diction that all understood. To date people still make reference to this presidential inauguration speech. He created a good rapport with his auddience and that made it easy for him.

Though there may be differences in the way the two speakers used their language and the various communication enhancers, it is worth noting that there are a must do things for a public speaker if communication is to be achieved. King’s route was descriptive while Obama’s was prescriptive. The two used figurative language, imagery, allusion and repetition to communicate their ideologies but at the end the information went home. We can emulate the two to better our skills.

A key requirement of any information is credibility. This can only be achieved if one gives information objectively, that is, giving facts and supporting your information through proper citation. Bias may happen if one gives information subjectively. This means that whatever the speaker says is all personal opinion. This contravenes others opinions or even facts. This causes discontinuity in communication and the speaker may lose his audience. As such one should be neutral on whatever information they give.

In choosing what to speak about a key consideration is the audience composition. The information requirements for youths may be different from those of the older generation. Ladies may also require different information from gentlemen. This thus determines the topic of discussion, information content, style of delivery, tone and the organization of the information.

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