AFTER YEARS OF EDITING Â a newspaper, sometimes one forgets Â that “writing” Â is Â just one of two forms of communication. Â The other one is Â “oral communication” which we do 70% Â of the time in our daily lives.
Realizing Â that saying ” Your check arrived without a signature” is a more effective, if more Â polite way than saying “You did not sign the check” -made us realize there is a need to be refreshed on the “Do’s” and “Dont’s” of verbal communication.
After years with Toastmasters International, a “Tricks and Treats of Communication”, forum by academicians gave Â us a refresher course in public speaking. Realize, that in a survey of 10,000 people in the USA, public speaking scored more dreaded points than both flying and dying- as an activity most people are most afraid of.
But since one “cannot achieve what one cannot Â communicate”, there is Â the challenge that leadership Â always requires Â that Â one be skilled in both the written and especially Â the spoken word.
One good axiom is that ” quantity is not quality”. One can suffer from a ” diarrhea of words” and still suffer from an “anemia of substance”. Â Brevity, also, Â is the key-short sentences win.
Excessive long sentences Â are a waste of time ( for both the speaker and listener) and Â could be mistaken to hide Â a lack of substance by drowning us with excess verbiage . Unless one is like the stentorian Winston Churchill, any speech above 10 minutes can bore. Worse it is – in the written world, of course, Â where there is a deluge of Â competing visual information – a memo reader has an attention span of 45 seconds.
One trick we have learned is that to be understood better -write as if you are speaking. But speaking like one is Â writing is a catastrophe.
Few realize that 80% of communication is not words, by the way – but body language.
Stooping while talking is a sign of lack of energy and makes everyone fatigued as well -much like a limp handshake says one does not really like meeting you. “How do you do?” said with a Good Friday look -is equivalent to asking when did you resurrect from the grave? And your name is not Lazarus.
Genuine eye contact with the audience – displays warmth. Hands on the pocket is casual Â and you are not Â not FPJ, our dear Lord. Folding hands means you are Â not receptive to your audience or insecure with your whole being.
Cardinal rule is to dress for the occasion. In a formal engagement- striding into the room with suffocating tops and abbreviated skirts may make people mistake you for Madonna -doing the entertainment act. Â But voice is king.
The TV hit “Your Face Sounds Familiar” is predicated on the correct theory that one’s voice is one’s second face. Â Thus voice tone,pitch, tempo and volume must stay in the moderate side- not in either extremes.
Of course vocal variety is important- for emphasis and pauses can be used – Â but always , pregnant with meaning. Distractions like ahhh ( like Â the late Mr Ferdinand Â Marcos), and “you know” , “you know” (in excess) – are not encouraged. Â Talk straight off -and one will sound self-assured. Â Vocal variety is the spice of speech.
Ms Manalstas shared her Â ABCDs of good speeches. A- Accuracy; B- Brevity; C-Clarity and D-Dignity.
AccuracyÂ results from impassioned research and faithfulness to truth. BrevityÂ is a sign of the mastery of the subject matter because one can distill a dissertation Â in a few words.
Clarity – hear Lea Salonga or GMA 7’s Tina Monzon-Palma pronounce their Â words -and that’s clarity. But clarity also means the substance is captured in picturesque, appealing Â words and there is logic in the sequence of the presentation. Â DignityÂ means using refine words with finesse and are Â respectful of the sensibilities of the audience.
To make a good presentation one must have a “Purpose” of the speech that defines and unites all the sentences therein. Â One must know the audience. One story is told- true or not- that former prime minister Cesar Virata, an economist and engineer – spoke about economics when talking to an audience of engineers-and engineering when talking to economists. Both audiences left impressed about an alien topic delivered in an understandable manner.
If possible, visit the venue and test the sound system first. Â Be prepared to speak -using one’s voice without Â audio help – what if the sound system malfunctions? Â Power point is now the vogue. But one slide a minute, Â please and do not read the the slides verbatim – the audience can do that for you.
Try to stick to the logic of the presentation and put one’s best foot forward – as one’s Â “general attitude” will always show in the personality one projects. Â Like going to war or a competitive sport- nothing can substitute for preparation. Thus practice, practice, practice.
Finally space the speech appropriately and this is just a general rule in terms of allocation of time : introduction /heading (15%)- Body of speech (70%) – Ending ( 15%).
A good speech relates the beginning and the end Â -like a snake Â whose head must Â kiss its tail.
Rome was not built in a day – and a good speaker is honed over time.
Time of Â failed speeches – and successful ones.
Let us not forget this one mode of communication. It can turn the tide to personal success.
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