Factors That Make Up Effective Public Speaking: Intelligence
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Factors That Make Up Effective Public Speaking: Intelligence

We shall consider the intelligence of a speaker as consisting of common sense, tact, good taste, wide interests, and self-criticism. No matter how much self-confidence or self-assurance a speaker has, if he does not have some measure of intelligence, his public appearance as a speaker will be completely brief and a failure.

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No matter how much self-confidence or self-assurance a speaker has, if he does not have some measure of intelligence, his public appearance as a speaker will be completely brief and a failure. Anyone who presumes to engage in any form of public speaking either by means of simple conversation or standing before his fellow men and who directs their thinking should be well-endowed mentally. For this reason, we shall consider the intelligence of a speaker as consisting of common sense, tact, good taste, wide interests, and self-criticism.

Common Sense - it is the ability of the speaker to size up situations, to meet emergencies and to act accordingly. Common sense is also manifested in the speaker's demonstration of good judgment to select and to discuss topics according to the needs of the occasion and the demands of the audience.

Tact - is closely associated with common sense. This quality of the speaker is dependent upon his imagination and discernment. With imagination, a speaker can put himself in the shoes of his fellow being and realize how he would feel if some unkind remark were made about him. This is empathy at work.

Tact and prudence at work help the speaker win his audience by careful observation of attitudes, moods, behaviors, and situations. A tactful person, for instance, will never push for a decision when it appears that decision will be against him. He would rather postpone the decision until some later time. Again, his discernment will tell him when to speak and when not to. By dealing much with people, a speaker will know when they are in a friendly mood and when they are in a hostile one. By observation, he will be able to diagnose the opinions, beliefs, and prejudices of his listeners. Tact will help the speaker to handle delicate topics dealing with sex, politics, and religion in group discussions.

Good Taste - is another manifestation of the intelligence of an effective public speaker. Since many of our choices are dictated by good taste, this quality is quite valuable to a speaker in many ways. For example, good taste will help a speaker to select the kind of clothes to wear in public speaking occasions. The speaker is conscious of the fact that his personal appearance affects the sensibilities of his audience. He knows that his audience will notice the slightest affectation in the matter of clothing. For this reason, he will exert all efforts to maintain a neat, properly groomed appearance that will enhance and strengthen closer sharing of ideas with the audience.

Good taste also helps the speaker to choose a subject appropriate to the needs of the audience and the demands of the occasion, to select a language adapted to the educational level of the audience and to speak with ease and naturalness rather than with exaggerated elocution, elegant English, and artificiality and affectation of expression. Audiences are impressed by well-groomed speakers who communicate ideas with ease, with relaxation, with simplicity and clarity of expression, and with emotional security.

Wide Interest - this quality is revealed in the speaker's profound knowledge of people, things, or situations. If there is anything that is most embarrassing, sometimes even disgusting, it is a speaker who doesn't know what he is talking about. To be an attractive and interesting speaker, you must be a man of ideas. To be so, you must be widely read and widely traveled. You must also be a keen observer of people, things, or events. You must grasp all opportunities to improve your knowledge.

To know what you're talking about, you must work at getting information. You must not simply rely on mere rumors, gossips, conjectures, etc. You have to know where to go, what to look for, and what to use. You must know your sources of information - newspapers, magazines, TV documentaries, books, and all other forms of mass media which can really help you keep up with everything. Good talk is expensive. When you want to talk about a subject you don't have knowledge of or little knowledge of, you have to go out and get information.

Remember, the quality of your life as an effective public speaker is dependent upon your willingness to find out what you are talking about. You need facts. But, you only need fact if you need to know what you are talking about. If you want to impress your audience, you will try to locate information . . . you must be a master in one realm of knowledge. Audience detests glib talkers, cheap talks, and phonies. Therefore, be thoroughly informed so that you learn to separate facts from rumor, gossip, or opinion, so that you may develop the habit of seeking for and using facts effectively, and so that you begin to discriminate between intelligent communication, which has value, and cheap talks involving statements that are absurd and illogical.

Self-criticism - this manifestation of the speaker's intelligence is revealed in the ability of the speaker to hold himself at arm's length occasionally and to evaluate himself in the light of his public performance as a communicator of ideas. The ability to accept criticisms gracefully is indicative of a mature personality. Infantile indeed is the individual who bristles, who looks upon a word of correction as a personal attack, who harbors resentment, or who is filled with an urge to flee or to fight back when criticized.

You can improve and perfect your skill and techniques of effective communication if you become your own judge and if you compare yourself with other speakers. To help you form a standard of judgment as to what is excellent on the platform, review your past speaking performances and take note of their strengths and weaknesses, what it is that succeeds and what it is that fails in your speaking.

Compare yourself with other speakers. Go and listen to men whom you admire. By listening to these brilliant and outstanding public speakers, you can improve your diction and your vocabulary by noting how they use words that are not in your vocabulary. While making a mental comparison of yourself and the speaker you admire most, ask yourself these questions. What type of delivery does the speaker use? How does he use his hands? Does he speak directly to the audience? Where does he get his subjects? Where does he get his material? How does he organize his material? These questions will surely help you diagnose the success of the speaker and will help you in your own communication problem.

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Comments (1)

Great tips. I would add one more. Anyone that is serious about mastering public speaking should join Toastmaster's International. I did back in the 1970s. Great organization. Besides its educational aspects, the meetings are great ways to network.