Before I started this class, if someone would have asked me if I wanted to give a speech in front of a large audience, I would have laughed in their face. But in reflection of my semester in speech class, I would now jump at the chance to talk in front of an audience. True, it is partially because I enjoy making a fool of myself, but it is in large part due to the fact that talking to people in a structured manner, such as a speech just doesn't scare the bejusus out of me like it did before I enrolled in this class. Why is that? Why does public speaking scare people? I feel that many people just don't understand the fundamentals. First off, things go much smoother if your audience finds you credible. Next, your delivery is just as important as your material. A nervous speaker with accurate facts is just as foolish as a smooth-talker spouting nonsense. Properly delivering your message to your audience is the only way to keep the audience's attention, because they are just as much involved in the speech as you are. Getting them to listen to you, and only you is vital; always leave them intrigued and impressed with a quality conclusion. So what is credibility and why is it important? The Greek word, ethos, was the name used by Aristotle for what modern students of communication refer to as credibility. It is the audience's perception of whether a speaker is qualified to speak on a given topic. The two major factors influencing a speaker's credibility are competence and character. I believe credibility is not only attained through research and study, but life experiences. What I mean by this is that anyone can go to the library and do research; with facts and statistics can pull off a very convincing speech. Are they credible? Yes, in this case. However, they would not be as credible as someone who has lived it. Take a cancer patient for example; someone who has lived it, and who has gone through chemo has all the credibility in the world. This sort of credibility was very evident in our class in particular. John educated us all on fishing and Matthew cooked for us. John, being a fisherman, and Matthew, being a culinary student are far better served to be giving speeches on their topics than I, or someone else who went to the library and researched a topic we had no clue about. Knowing your facts is unfortunately not enough; finding a common ground with your audience is also needed. An audience is more likely to accept what a speaker has a say if they are factual, and speak with conviction. This is however, easier said than done. In theory and in your mind... you're standing up at the podium, your voice doesn't crack and you don't get dry-mouth. You don't stutter, or slur or forget your next words. You deliver your speech, move the audience with your persuasive tone and you get a roaring applause at the end. Invariably, something will go wrong, no matter how much you practice. The biggest obstacle is stage fright. There's just something about the anxiety of giving a speech in front of people that doesn't sit right with most people, so we get nervous every time we have to do it. A bad speaking voice, poor posture, nervous habits such as feet shuffling and "ummm's" relate nothing but bad qualities back to the audience, thus bringing the quality of your speech down considerably. Nervousness is normal. The ones who succeed have learned to use their nervousness to their advantage. The best way to get better at something is to practice. Giving more speeches and talking to a group and gaining speaking experience will make you more comfortable giving speeches. Within that, practice your speeches before delivering them. The more prepared you are, the better you will be when something doesn't go as planned. Lastly, don't expect perfection. No one is perfect, is just not possible. Brushing it off when something doesn't go your way, such as the audience laughing at a joke you wrote, will make things much easier. Twenty-five percent. That is the amount of information that we, as an audience retain while listening. Listening to someone speak is just as demanding of a job as the person giving the speech. It is very easy for your mind to wander and not pay attention, especially if you've got bigger things on your plate: an upcoming test, relationship problems, lunch
all things that pop in our heads when we should be listening to the speaker. Some things we can't control: the air-conditioner kicking on/off, other peoples cell phones ringing or someone tapping a pencil or a foot. All of these things sidetrack our attention away from the speaker. As a speaker, it is your job to keep the audience entertained, so when you're up there talking, the person is willing listening and wanting to stay focused to hear what you have to say next, rather than focusing on how fast they can make it home afterwards. Speaking with energy, with gestures and eye contact are a few things to help alleviate poor listening. Seventy-five percent of information the audience won't remember anyway, and if you are delivering a poor speech, chances are the audience isn't going to be paying attention to that other 25%, so why even bother? Make the speech fun and informative for the audience, otherwise it's just a waste of time. Lastly, the conclusion... Why is it important? The rest of my speech was good, who cares if it my conclusion isn't all that great? Consider that the conclusion is the last thing that leaves your mouth, and it's the last thing your audience hears before you sit down and the first thing they remember about your speech. Yes, you may have had a great speech, but "And that's all I've got" really ruined it for me, the listener. It pretty much negates any good that you had throughout your speech, and leaves a bad taste in the audience's mouth. Still, on the other side of that argument, ending things brilliantly can seal the deal on a great speech and get you that roaring applause that you seek from your audience. A quote, or possibly a mind-boggling statistic on your persuasive speech is the best way to end things, because chances are someone has already said it better than you can. So, Mrs. Oulvey, or "teacher lady" as Deedee called you, I'm not quite sure which you prefer
I thank you for a great class. I put this class off until my last semester at SWIC because I was deathly afraid of it, but I can honestly say that I am now able to enter the world without the least bit fear of speaking to the public. Rather than saying "that's all I've got" I'll leave you with a humorous quote I found by an anonymous author: "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."