Ms. Laura Alderson, Instructor of Management
University of Memphis
Morgan D. Parks
November 22, 2011
President William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States is a prime example of what it means to be an effective speaker. Although George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole were highly qualified opponents in the 1992 and 1996 elections, it was Clinton’s presentation skills and ability to work an audience that earned him his back-to-back terms in office. President Clinton “owned the room” from the beginning of his first presidential debate. Upon being asked his first question, Clinton walked up to the lady seeking answers, squared his shoulders toward her, looked her straight in the eye, and asked her to repeat her name. As soon as she responded with her name, Clinton repeated her name back to her and answered her question passionately and confidently. (Koegel, 2007, p. 06-07). Effective speakers can walk into a room, take the audience by surprise, and deliver a presentation that is both passionate and natural. A presenter does not have to be perfect, nor does the audience expect him or her to be so. According to Henninger (2010), making a mistake, forgetting a segment of your speech, or falling speechless for a moment is okay as long as your presentation has value. An effective speaker knows how to avoid gestures and facial expressions that point out his or her mistakes. Public speaking skills are not inherited. It is a talent and a technique that has become second hand to a speaker through a great deal of practice. Can anyone be an effective speaker? The answer to this question is yes; with sufficient knowledge, tools, and practice, anyone can stand up and “own the room.”
An exceptional presenter is one who is organized and an organized presentation is one that has a developed structure. The average human being has a very small attention span; therefore a speaker’s best speech is one that is short and to the point. At most, a good presentation only needs two or three main points. That’s really all the audience wants to hear anyway (Henninger, 2010). The audience is also more obligated to listen to a presenter who looks organized. First impressions are crucial when a presenter is trying to sell his or her ideas, services, or products. Thirty seconds of floundering before the audience can send a negative signal that suggests that the presenter is unprepared and can also create question as to whether or not the presenter is even confident in what it is he or she is trying to promote (Koegel, 2007, p. 45-46). A speaker only gets one impression, so he or she should strive to make it a positive one by looking and being organized. Speak Passionately
A presenter must be passionate about his or her topic in order for the presentation to be persuasive. If a presenter is not passionate about the topic, then why should the audience even care about it? Many presenters are guilty of delivering lengthy presentations that painstakingly reinforce their topic. According to communication experts, the time on a presentation should be slimmed down and the energy should be boosted up (Layman, 2011). A presenter should be aware of his or her voice when delivering a speech. If one’s tone is droning and monotone, then the presenter can likely expect to look out into an audience that is either asleep or captivated with something other than the presentation on point. Speak up, speak from the heart, and speak with conviction. In keeping with Koegel (2007), a presenter’s voice is an outward expression of his or her passion. Engage the Audience
A powerful speaker is one who can engage his or her audience. People do not particularly care to sit silently through an exhaustive presentation. Most audiences want to participate and be a part of it. One way to engage with the audience is to encourage audience participation. Meet with the audience before the presentation,...