How to Attract Audience with Effective Public Speech? Ten Suggestions for Beginners:
1. Powerful opening: The very first tool a speaker has in hand to attract the attention of audience is the opening of the lecture. The opening remarks should make the entire audience turn their attention towards the speaker. Then it is the work of the speaker to see that the attention never diverts. Some speakers spend most of the time in addressing the dignitaries in the dais which is a tiresome exercise for the listener, whereas a powerful speaker would be able to use even this formality for his benefit to drive home his point.
“Friends, Roman, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”
See how these opening remarks with a brief salutation changes the entire course of the play. Critics have written volumes about these lines from Shakespeare’s immortal play Julius Caesar which is classic example of how public speech could change listener’s minds.
2. Attire: Once the speaker impresses the audience with opening remarks, it will take some time for the public to turn the attention towards the attire. The attire need not be gorgeous, but should match the occasion. One need not come to a labour union meeting with full suit and likewise one should not attend a board meeting without coat and tie. We have seen that Indian National congress leader’s always wearing Khadhi (A rough hand woven cloth) uniform with a white cap during freedom struggle. But nowadays if one wears that uniform in an public meeting he will be the odd man out.
3. Attitude: It is very important that the speaker should have the right attitude towards the subject chosen. He need not be a fanatic. But he should love his subject. A speaker who comes to speak about Ramayana should have read it thoroughly and have knowledge of the entire content. More than that, he should love each and every word of the epic. He should also be able to demonstrate it powerfully. Otherwise he should enter into that topic.
4. Confidence: The speaker should have utmost confidence in the subject he has chosen. He should be able to face any questioner or critic with courage and faith. George Bernard Shaw and Sir Winston Churchill are the two great personalities the world has produced whom always the speakers and writers prefer to quote. When an adverse critic, during a meeting sent a note to Shaw scribbling ‘idiot’, he simply quipped, “here is a listener who has put only his signature, I return this to him for writing the contents”
5. Quick wit and humour: These should be spontaneous. The speaker should have enough presence of mind to quip immediately to any of the posers raised by critics.
Here, a mention may be made about Late C.N.Annadurai,(known as C.N.A) former chief minister of Tamilnadu who was known for his quick wits.
His rival party members threw out the challenge “We will win the elections simply lying in bed” for which he quipped, “certainly they will go to bed, but we will win”.
Such was the humour of C.N.A. His party won the elections and the opponents are in opposition benches for the past 45 years.
6. Cogency: The speech should be cogent all along. Nowhere should it deviate from the main subject. There are some speakers who will add anecdotes and stories to add charm to their speech. Finally they will not be able to correlate them to the mainstream. The audience would appreciate the talk as extremely fine but would not be able to recall any of the contents.
7. Body language: Gentle should be the way one should present himself before others. No extreme pose required to drive home your point. Kindly note that ‘the length of the beard will not determine how great a philosopher you are’. You need not jump with emotion to evoke the listeners. You need not raise your voice also. Without doing all these gimmicks you can make the audience move with your body movements. They will rise when your hand rises and will subside when your hand comes down. Such should be the power of your speech.
8. Eye contact with audience: Eye contact is the most powerful weapon one has to control the audience. It is not that you should stare a particular listener (poor fellow!). Instead your eyes should wander among the crowd. You should be clever enough to fix the eyes on either the most attentive listener or a prospective listener which will make him totally involved in the talk. In fact, after sometime people will be waiting for their turn so that your eyes will fall on them. Public speech is a double-edged weapon, while one end is you, the speaker; the other end is the listener. The connecting thread is to be firm and that is by eye contact.
9. Acceptance by negation: Don’t put a proposition and ask “Am I right?” Even if the entire audience says “Yes sir, you are right” be fully assured that they will simply forget whatever you told the moment they leave the meeting hall. There are several speakers who will put questions like,” Do you agree with me?”, “Will you obey my instructions?” etc. Such question and answer sessions will not serve any purpose. Instead putting a negative proposal and asking them to negate will always give a positive result. After all Antony only praised Caesar and not buried him. “Negation is creation”-J.Krishnamurti.
There was a debate on the topic “Whether Love marriage is better or arranged marriage…?” The speakers were putting forth arguments in their favour one after the other. But there was a speaker who supported arranged marriages by listing out twenty favourable points. Finally he concluded saying, “In spite of all these, only love marriages are most preferable because…” and he added only a handful of points. Finally he won the debate.
10. CLOSING REMARKS: Conclusion is equally important like opening. There are some speakers who will tell “I shall conclude my talk in a minute or two” or “Let me tell a few words as conclusion” etc. All these preparations to conclude are totally unwarranted. You should be able to conclude in a totally unexpected time. The talk should conclude by concluding firm remarks and not by you’re telling so. The effect of talk should be reverberating in the minds of listeners for long even when the speaker has left the hall.
In addition to the above 10 clues, it is very important to note that always ex-temporal talks are preferred to prepared talks. Having a prepared talk in hand and reading from the notes seldom receive attention other than board meetings where statistics are needed. That does not mean that the talk should be without any preparation. The vital points are to be stored in mind cogently and should be presented in quick succession. During power point presentation also, the screen should contain minimum details leaving more scope to talk to establish one as an excellent speaker.
The MANTRA for success in public speech is OBSERVATION followed by practice. One has to observe the oratorical skills of great orators either by attending their meetings, or watching T.V live talks or videos and practice the salient features. It is strongly recommended that video talks of the world Philosopher J.Krihnamurti may be watched with apt attention which will give an excellent knowledge of speaking skills in English.
Oratory skill in English and any other language is a matter of pride and I wish the readers all success in getting Speaking Skills.