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Learning the Art of Public Speaking By Muttahir Ahmed Khan DAWN Oct.

14, 2007
With the emergence of a close association between education and corporate sectors, teachers have got new vistas to try their endeavors on producing refined and dominating sales staff that can make full use of the tools of impressive language, eloquent style, and hypnotizing way of talking to win and convince the audience. English language teachers have acquired a vital pedestal in this regard. They are invited by businesses not only to deliver lectures and presentations on language tips, but also to help their trainees prepare their own presentations. Here are some few tips on carrying on a smooth flow of a general lecture, presentation, briefing, etc. Mostly, when preparing for public speaking, it would be wrong to undermine the significance of your personal appearance. You must be well dressed, with proper shoes and hair style, according to the decorum and situation, and reflect an excellent fettle. Keep in mind that it is your physical being people come across first. Your body language must exude an aura of optimism and confidence. To pave the way for a successful performance, it is essential to have a clear-cut idea of your audiences mental and educational caliber, average age group, social and professional background and objectives. You must know what they want to achieve through your knowledge and experience. A group of students can never be handled in the same way as a batch of professional and working addressees are tackled. Moreover, further classification, on the basis of viewers professions, grades, nature of studies and jobs and departments, also matter a lot. It is both desirable as well as incumbent on the speaker or presenter to prepare a written draft of the outline in a detailed matter. It will help him/her in case they miss any step or portion and in maintaining the sequence of events and points. Every point and fact must be explained at its proper time and place in the scheme. The venue should have a congenial and comfortable temperature, the required seating capacity and should not be overcrowded. You should be visible and audible from all the angles and by the persons sitting in all corners. Light and blinds or curtains should be up to the requirement. The audio system and other audio-visual aids must be checked in advance. When you have arrived at the stage, keep in mind that stage-phobia is a natural phenomenon and has been experienced by even seasoned and talented actors. The fear of audience can be tamed with practice and self-counseling. A little nervousness can infuse an extra energy to make your presentation or speech more effective and appealing. Have a glass of water to avoid the dry-throat problem, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and communicate to yourself positively for a moment. Believe in yourself as a finished and professional figure and your audience will also feel the same. You must use a language that can be understood by everyone otherwise people will get bored and start talking to one another and your aim will be ruined. Never try to

copy any famous anchorperson or speaker and use your natural voice because it would be impossible for you to maintain that unfamiliar style or a fake accent for a long time. Time management is also an appreciable art that could be achieved with practice and experience. So never forget to prepare and compose your material in accordance with your time schedule. To go for one or two rehearsals is extremely advisable in this regard. If you ignore this element and fail to deliver a point within allotted time, you will have to suffer a lot in the middle of your journey. The beginning of your speech or presentation must be very impressive. Always start with the full involvement of your audience by asking a question or citing a very memorable quotation or relating a joke or anecdote. All this must be relevant to your topic and aim because this very element will allure your listeners to your topic automatically. It will create their involvement and will boost your rapport with them. During your presentation, alternate eye-to-eye-contact between the persons sitting in all the corners and also in the center because you can not keep looking just at one area. If, at any stage, you find your viewers distracted, try to get them involved by resorting to mutual interaction or a little discussion. Never get puzzled or tense because it will destabilize you further. You can also give some interesting but related examples to drag their interest back. The use of audio-visual aids and colorful charts and slides can help you, to a great deal, keep people interested and attentive. It is an irrefutable fact that the best learning is done through those methods and techniques that involve senses and satisfy a mans aesthetic sense. But, keep in mind that slides and charts are used only to introduce headings of the topics and not to display details. A slide must be removed, at the earliest, after it has served its purpose. Body language is an indivisible part of any teaching or instructional activity. Do not forget to make full use of your gestures and body movements, according to your words and situation. It will provide you an extra edge to make people understand your points and thoughts in a comprehensive way. You must be a good performer and demonstrator and not merely an orator. Be prepared to face any unexpected and unpleasant situation such as suspension of power supply, over crowded venue or non-operational electronic aids like TV or overhead projector. In this type of circumstances, people suddenly get uncomfortable and their attention and interest gets evaporated like air bubbles. The presenter too gets nervous and frustrated. You should be able to capture the minds and consciousness of your audience so be in possession of charts, whiteboard, and markers to fill the vacuum created by the absence of slides and multi-media. The conclusion is also critical and significant in a presentation because people leave the venue after having your last picture and impression saved in their memories. Your concluding sentence must be a memorable one. A though-provoking quotation and a moral anecdote can be an emblem of a long-lasting impression of yours. The question-answer session can, sometimes, make a speaker lose his or her temperament and get baffled out of wits. I, therefore, advise you to be prepared for expected and relevant questions, and, if an odd or out-of-the-way question is raised, never try to answer it in a wrong way and simply say, I will tell you later, after confirmation. Finally, thank your audience and then leave the stage with confidence and a smile on your face.