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AFTER YEARS OF EDITING  a newspaper, sometimes one forgets  that “writing”  is  just one of two forms of communication.  The other one is  “oral communication” which we do 70%  of the time in our daily lives.

Realizing  that saying ” Your check arrived without a signature” is a more effective, if more  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  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  communicate”, there is  the challenge that leadership  always requires  that  one be skilled in both the written and especially  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”.  Brevity, also,  is the key-short sentences win.

Excessive long sentences  are a waste of time ( for both the speaker and listener) and  could be mistaken to hide   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,  where there is a deluge of  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  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  and you are not  not FPJ, our dear Lord. Folding hands means you are  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.  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.  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 –  but always , pregnant with meaning. Distractions like ahhh ( like  the late Mr Ferdinand  Marcos), and “you know” , “you know” (in excess) – are not encouraged.   Talk straight off -and one will sound self-assured.  Vocal variety is the spice of speech.

Ms Manalstas shared her  ABCDs of good speeches. A- Accuracy; B- Brevity; C-Clarity and D-Dignity.


Accuracy  results from impassioned research and faithfulness to truth. Brevity  is a sign of the mastery of the subject matter because one can distill a dissertation  in a few words.

Clarity – hear Lea Salonga or GMA 7’s Tina Monzon-Palma pronounce their  words -and that’s clarity. But clarity also means the substance is captured in picturesque, appealing  words and there is logic in the sequence of the presentation.  Dignity  means using refine words with finesse and are  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.  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.  Be prepared to speak -using one’s voice without  audio help – what if the sound system malfunctions?  Power point is now the vogue. But one slide a minute,  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  “general attitude” will always show in the personality one projects.  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  -like a snake  whose head must  kiss its tail.

Rome was not built in a day – and a good speaker is honed over time.

Time of  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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