Public Speaking for Rollistas


By Raul Roberto

Click A Title

 Chapter

Title

 1

 You Are Called, You Are Chosen

 2

 I Want My Audience To ...

 3

 Talk Construction

 4

 The Hardware of Your Talk

 5

 Enriching Your Talk

 6

 What Makes It Effective?

 7

 Rehearsal

 8

 But I’m Nervous!

 9

 D-Day

 10

 Conclusion -- It Only Gets Better
 Bibliography

 


CHAPTER 1

YOU ARE CALLED, YOU ARE CHOSEN

The Phone Call

Okay, you are relaxing one early evening after a hearty dinner and you receive a phone call. Aha, the Cursillo Weekend has been scheduled and the team coordinator is on the other line. “Brod, I’m forming my team for the upcoming Cursillo Weekend and I was hoping that you can serve.” There is a slight hesitation and then, “Sure, why not?” And the team coordinator does the next pitch, “Oh, can you also say the rollo on Ideal?” Another hesitation, and then realizing that not many are called, let alone chosen, the Holy Spirit interceded and you said, “Yes, but ...” And the team coordinator knowing that he’s got a long list of people to call cuts you off, “Thank you, Brod, OK? We’ll see you on the first meeting. Bye.” Click. Dial-tone.

What Have I Done ?

Whew ! Was that me ? In a matter of a minute, the team coordinator enlisted me in his team, and in another minute, he got me to say, “Yes, I’m going to do the talk on Ideal! Wait a minute ! But I’m not really experienced or qualified to say that talk. I ....” Already, there’s an inner voice right there second-guessing what you just agreed to — talk in front of an audience about something you don’t know anything about. “I wonder if I can call back the team coordinator so I can reverse my decision.” You dial but to no avail. The phone’s busy. Why ? He has about 50 that he’s calling tonight. Try tomorrow.

On Second Thought

So, it’s late in the evening and you are thinking about your rollo. At that point anxiety begins to set in. Worry not. It’s natural. The fear of the unknown always causes anxiety. Deep inside you, you have mixed emotions about this rollo — should I or should I not ? So, you toss and turn in bed thinking about it. Mmmm ... maybe, I should really do it because now is my chance to share my life’s story even if it’s only in bits and pieces. Or maybe, I shouldn’t because I have to face the audience. As the Holy Spirit exerts a magnificent force on you to do something good, you say, “Well, why not ? I think I have something to say. So, I will say it and say it the best way I know how.”

But Where Do I Begin ?

Good question ! The fact that you are asking yourself that question ‘Where Do I Begin?’ means that you are now marshaling your creative energies toward producing your TALK. You are essentially beginning your preparation. So, your first day of preparation begins on the day that you get your assignment from the team coordinator.

Here’s An Assignment Form To Fill Up

Complete the following Form A:

A side note on the length of the average rollo. Psychologists agree that the attention span of an average person when listening to a speech or talk is only about 20 minutes. Given that a person can productively listen only for that long, you may want to keep your talk (with some exceptions on a few rollos) in the 20-25 minute range. Beyond that, you run the risk of the listener’s diminishing attention. Do not exceed the 25-minute mark.

All items in Form A are self-explanatory with the exception of Organizational Pattern and Intention. Intention is discussed in the next chapter. In Form A, there is also a line about Organizational Pattern. The types of Organizational Patterns by which you can model your talks on are: Topical, Chronological, Spatial (Geographical), Cause/Effect, Problem/Solution. A detailed discussion of these patterns is found in the chapter on Talk
Construction.



CHAPTER 2

I WANT MY AUDIENCE TO ...

Got A Goal ?

In Form A, there is also a line about your talk’s intention. This is simply the goal that you want to achieve with your audience in your talk. This leads us to the different types of talks. They are differentiated according to the five (5) common goals.

 

The Five (5) Types of Talks

1. Talk to stimulate - seeks to arouse some interest in your audiences. They are inspirational. They aim to energize, excite and invigorate the listeners. Meditations usually fall under this category as they reinforce shared beliefs and are stimulating. When you are done with the talk to stimulate, you want to complete the following, “I want my audience to feel that ....”

2. Talk to inform - tells your audience something that they don’t already know or may not know it in its entirety. Many “how-to” talks fall under this category. The talk on the Rosary, for instance, shows us how to pray the Rosary. The talk on Sacraments tells us how we can participate in the Sacraments. The Layperson in the Church reminds us that we, lay people together with the religious, compose the Church. The talk on Group Reunion and Ultreya tells us how we can continue to be in touch with the rest of our fellow cursillistas. When I am done with my talk to inform, “I want my audience to know that ....”

3. Talk to convince - or to persuade expresses some viewpoints and tries to show why these viewpoints are valid. Sometimes, you try to change your listeners’ beliefs with this type of talk. The talks on Piety, Study and Action are attempts to persuade to practice piety or devotion to God, to continue learning about God and His creation through Study and to translate those two into Apostolic Action. When I am done with my talk to convince, “I want my audience to believe that ....”

4. Talk to activate - is an attempt to move your audience to action — an active participation on their part. The talk to activate is not the same as the talk to convince. You are basically telling your audience this: “Now that you are convinced, DO THIS!” Many speakers have the mistaken notion that once a person is convinced then he/she acts. Not necessarily. You may have been convinced that the Church needs financial support from the faithful but if you do not put money (or help in some way financially) in the collection box then that is not really ACTing. It’s important that you are specific about what you want them to act on. The talks on Leaders, Environment, Christian Community in Action are examples of talks to activate. Use action verbs such as “Pledge this amount !” “Call now!” “Come forward!” “Pray!” “Sign up now!” When I am done with my talk to activate, “I want my audience to do the following ....”

5. Talk to entertain - is usually humorous or light-hearted and aims to amuse the listeners. You want to leave them in a happy mood. All throughout the Cursillo Weekend, we interject minitalks with jokes, anecdotes, extraordinary tales to entertain the audience. When I am done with my talk to entertain, “I want my audience to be happy.”

Talks that are given during the weekend are by no means discrete in terms of the goals they are trying to achieve. There will always be overlapping. For instance, in order to convince, you must also inform; to move to action, you must first try to convince. It is important, however, to have a dominant intention or goal in your talk.

OK, Where Do I Get My Materials ?

First of all, don’t go rushing off to write your talk. Why ? Because there’s nothing to write yet. When you begin you are like a blank tablet. There is zero information on it. But is it really zero ? Not really. Because you already have something.

So you first sources are internal. You have them in your head.

a. your own knowledge
b. your own thoughts, opinions, beliefs
c. your own personal experiences
d. your own observations

You also have external sources:

a. your files that you keep if you have any
b. magazines, newspapers, periodicals
c. consult with friends, colleagues
d. talk to experts or specialists
e. talk to others who have done this talk in the past
f. libraries, bookstores
g. internet
h. listen to relevant radio and TV programs
i. of course, your Bible, religious publications


A Handy Notebook Or A Shoebox Will Do

Keep a notebook where you write in anything at all that comes to mind that you think may be included in your talk, no matter how remotely relevant. There is no such thing as too much information while you are in the preparation stage.

If you don’t like the notebook approach, you can have a shoebox of index cards. On the index cards, you write any ideas that you think you might use. If the article is too long, write the source on the card, for instance, the name of the book, page number, so that you can go back to it.

As you are going through the preparation stage, you never know where ideas are coming from. But I tell you they grow like beansprouts, and sometimes, at a very unholy hour: in the bathroom, in the shower, while shaving, mowing the lawn, while putting makeup on, while dressing, on the train, in your car, etc. Keep those ideas coming and write them down in your notebook or index cards.

Funnel of Ideas & The Conveyor Belt

Basically as these ideas clog your head, you are brainstorming continuously. These ideas get funneled in into your head. This is what I call the Funnel of Ideas. A stream of ideas keeps on coming in and through your Funnel and onto what I call a conveyor belt which is a placeholder of all your ideas. You can institute a preliminary quality control where some ideas get retained, some ideas get thrown away and some ideas get put in a suspense status. This preliminary quality control is a preliminary selection of major ideas that you will later on incorporate when you write your talk. These major ideas or points will crystallize into one main or one central idea. This main idea is your thesis. For instance, after I did my research on the talk on Apostolic Action I came out with the following major points on how Apostolic Action can be exercised: Evangelization, Personal Testimonies, Christian Restoration of the World. Those major points were the ones I used to form my main theme which was the need to exercise Apostolic Action in order for the Culture of Life to triumph over the Culture of Death.

Righting Your Writing

Never be content with your first draft. After writing your talk the first time, don’t be in a hurry to go back to it and start rewriting since chances are that you are still very attached to it that you won’t be changing much. Let it sit for a while, say, a day or two, then look at it again. You are your own best critique of your writing style. If you must cut, cut ruthlessly to simplify your language. Rewrite. Revise. Rewrite.

Observe grammar rules when writing. If you mention a woman, and you later on refer to “her” as “him,” the audience will be confused if they might have missed something because now you are referring to the male gender when the last person mentioned was a female. So, watch the use of pronouns in your antecedents.

Pay attention to your subject and predicate so that they are in agreement. By that, I mean, make sure that you use singular verb predicate to match a singular subject. In addition, those tenses are a pain if used incorrectly because the audience will get confused if the action is still happening (we go, present tense) or the action done with (we went, past tense). The idea is to communicate your ideas across but if you say “The priests does” (incorrect) when you mean “The priests do” (correct) we don’t know whether one priest is involved or not. And when you say, “He is now she” when you mean “He is really a he” we wonder what the true gender of the person is so that we in the audience can visualize him (or is it her?).

No, No To A Recycled Rollo

There is a word of caution that needs to be said about talk preparation and its source. Quite often, the person assigned to do a talk will get tempted to borrow previous years’ talks from the previous year’s speakers about the same topic. There is no problem with that as it is included rightfully in your external sources mentioned above. The problem arises when a talk or major portions of the talk get repeated word-for-word that even the punctuation marks and the same corny jokes are exactly the same. Not only is this dishonest since you are now passing somebody else’s work as yours. It smacks of laziness (defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as the absence of desire to do good). It is also very unoriginal and glaringly boring to most people especially to your fellow team members. Your talk is as much food-for-thought to the team members as it is to the candidates. When you deliver your talk at anytime, rehearsal or otherwise, you do it like it’s the real thing. If you have one standard for the team members and one for the candidates, your talk will appear staged or orchestrated. You are the best judge if your talk is simply an orchestration or not. There is a message to be conveyed to all whether the listeners are candidates or not.

Also, when you do your research, there is some element of suffering and sacrifice involved. That makes your assignment all the more challenging and noble. It is also very spiritually gratifying as you see your labor begins to bear fruit in terms of a finished, well-written manuscript. You never know how meaningful your message may be to people who will hear you. When you make it and sprinkle it with love, there is no doubt that your message will be heard.


CHAPTER 3

TALK CONSTRUCTION

In the first chapter, we learned to complete Form A (Assignment Information) that contains the basic information about your Talk Assignment. Next, there is a Form B which contains the different parts of your talk. The form looks like this:

1. Opening: Type of Introduction ____________________________________
2. Opening: Topic Sentence ________________________________________
3. Opening: Thesis (main idea) ______________________________________
4. Body: Type of Background_______________________________________
5. Body: Major Points — two(2) to a maximum of four (4)
Point A - expand, explain, enhance the intention you are trying to achieve
- use verbal specifics, visual specifics, case histories, statistics,
- use testimonies, examples, visual aids, demonstrations, etc.
- personal observations, anecdotes, biblical quotes
Point B - expand, explain, ...
Point C - expand, explain, ...
6. Body: Climax _________________________________________________
7. Ending : Type of Conclusion______________________________________

The OPENING part of your talk is found in numbers 1, 2, 3.
The BODY part of your talk is found in numbers 4, 5, 6.
The ENDING part is found in number 7.

 

1. Introduction

Early in your talk, as early as the first few seconds, your listener asks and answers these three (3) questions:

a. Does the speaker care about me and my situation ?
b. Is the speaker credible ?
c. Does the speaker have something to say worth listening to ?

Given that the listener is formulating these questions, you have to have a good opening. A good opening can make or break your talk. A good opening is not a guarantee that the rest of your talk will be excellent but a bad opening will assure you of a certain defeat. A good talk opening lasts a good 30 seconds to about a minute and a half. Your opening should do four (4) things:

a. Get the listener’s attention (also called mind-grabbers, hook).
b. Establish your credentials and caring.
c. Give your listener a reason for paying attention to the remainder of your talk.
d. Smoothly introduce your topic or main idea.

You can use one of the following techniques or a combination to accomplish the above.

a. Refer directly to the subject of your talk.
b. Begin with a story, anecdote or a personal experience (best ones are true, personal).
c. Develop a common bond with the audience.
d. Pay them an honest compliment.
e. Ask an interesting or lead-in question.
f. An appropriate quotation.
g. Do something to arouse curiosity.
h. Make reference to the date (date of your talk, that is) and significance.
i. Mentioning some people in the audience.
j. Use news items, headlines.
k. Use a picture or an interesting graphic or a visual aid.
l. Use humor to steer your audience to the subject.

Technique C was used by an American, English-speaking Steve Budnik in his rollo once when, knowing that the audience was composed of almost all Filipinos, he opened his talk by speaking a few sentences in Tagalog. That was a hit among the listeners !

Whatever technique or techniques you use, make sure that they are related to the subject matter that you will talk about.

A word about jokes and the use of humor. The most popular and engaging method of beginning a talk is the use of humor. It relaxes both you and the audience. Ask yourself if you are good at telling jokes. Some are. Some are not. If you are a poor joke teller, use other means to open in your talk.

Here are a few rules on jokes:

a. Do you think it’s funny ? Yes, it’s funny.
b. Can you say it comfortably and confidently ? Yes, I can.
c. Are you not offending anyone ? Yes, I am not offending anyone.
d. Will they understand it and appreciate it ? Yes, they will understand it.
e. Can you deliver the punchline effectively ? Yes, I can deliver the punchline well.

If you answer as shown in italics, by all means, use a joke. But if you have any bit of doubt, just cut it out.

 

2. Topic Sentence

After your opening warm-up, you must know throw your first pitch. If you are successful in your opening, the listener is subconsciously saying, “OK, I’m with you. Now, tell me what’s on your mind.” At this point, your listener is expecting a short statement or your topic sentence.

For now, let me give you an example of a topic sentence. The talk on say, STUDY, will have for its topic sentence the following:

“I’m going to talk about STUDY, the second important element in Christian Life.”

The topic sentence is a simple, straightforward “tell-’em-what-you-will-talk-about” statement. It tells you and your audience the general direction of where your talk is headed. It is simply a title or a headline that does not explain anything. You do not drift, wander or lose control. It is a sign which says, “OK, sisters, this is where we’re going.”

 

3. Thesis (Main Idea)

The topic sentence is followed by your thesis or main idea.

For my thesis on STUDY, I can say,

“I believe that we need to STUDY to bridge the gap between PIETY and APOSTOLIC ACTION. It’s not enough that we exercise our expression of love to God. By STUDYING God’s great creation and its realities, STUDYING will enable us to do
APOSTOLIC ACTION.”

Your thesis is the one main, one central idea that you would like your audience to remember. It begins with “I think that ...,” “I believe that...,” “I am committed to...,” “I feel very strongly about ...” The thesis that you formulate here is the one central idea that gets crystallized in your quality control conveyor belt of ideas (see section on Funnel of Ideas in Chapter 2). Your thesis is a firm statement of conviction. So, you do not have a “because” in your thesis because you are not explaining or defending anything. You do not also qualify your thesis nor give examples. All of these are dealt with in your Major Points Area.

Your main thesis will be organized according to the pattern you choose and is discussed in the Major Points Area.

4. Background

For my background, “STUDY reminds me of the time when I joined the Pax Romana group at a Catholic University where we volunteered to teach the basics of religion to high school kids in Tondo, Manila. I was shocked at how little young people knew about the basics of our Catholic faith. I was determined to share with them what I knew.”

So, the background is a way to get the audience to care about you because you are adding a personal touch to your talk right away. People are interested in other people. The background you provide may be trivial to you but because you are the one standing up there, you are the center of attention, even trivial matter becomes very interesting. With the personal touch you give your background, it humanizes you; it makes you more real. Being more real makes your talk more interesting.

5. Major Points Area

The major points of your talk all tie in and relate to your thesis or main idea. Many speakers suggest from two (2) to seven (7). However, a two to four range seems practical for a 20-25 minute talk. A good talk is based on just a few major points. There are three ways to understand this:

a. You can look at your talk like a musical concert where you are the performing musician. You choose your main selections and the order that you play your selections. Your musical selections are your major points.

b. Another way is to look at your talk like a “Train of Thought.” As you know, a train has an engine in the front, the boxcars, the couplers that connect the boxcars, the caboose. Your opening is the engine; the boxcars are your major points; the couplers are the transition statements; and the caboose is your conclusion. Now, you are the train operator who drives this “Train of Thought” past the listener.

c. You can also look at your talk as a “Stream of Ideas” where you imagine yourself standing at a river bank. You audience is all downstream watching the river and what is in it. To communicate to the people downstream, you throw small barges, each one carrying a billboard with a message on it. The river runs quickly so the audience doesn’t have much time to read. Your river has other items in it (distractions). Your task is to make your billboards compelling and understandable.

You can use a more specific Organizational Pattern in the following section.

Pick A Pattern of Organization

a. Topical - is the most commonly-used. It is an orderly arrangement of the major points that you will highlight in your talk. You can start from the least important to the most important. The book Leaders’ Manual (Cursillo In Christianity) has made an attempt to put some major points in the talks for the Cursillo Weekend). Talks on Piety, Study, Action, Sacraments are topical. As a matter of fact, the majority of the talks during the Cursillo Weekend are of the Topical Pattern. Be selective on the ones to include.

A subpattern of Topical Pattern is a Psychological Pattern wherein you present your ideas according to the least acceptable to the most acceptable, from the least interesting to the most interesting. A Psychological Pattern also tends to start slow and then gradually builds up to a more climactic end.

b. Chronological - is simply time-sequence arranged, by dates or events. We are accustomed to time ordering of things. That makes this easiest to understand. Talk on History of the Cursillo is chronological. All “how-to” talks are also chronological. Talk on the Rosary is also chronological since you follow a certain order.

c. Spatial - is concerned with space, area, geography, direction. This pattern is highly visual. The Talk on the History of the Cursillo and its spread throughout the world can also be Spatial in addition to being Chronological.

d. Cause/Effect - relates two events, one of which is the cause of the other. The talk on Christian Community in Action may be considered causal in that after the members of the community got to know their role as genuine Christians through piety and study, they come together to perform Apostolic Action.

e. Problem/Solution - identifies the problem and offers solutions. The talk on Obstacles To A Life of Grace talks about the influences that lead to sin and how these may be remedied.

Regardless of the pattern of presentation you use, the task is always the same, and that is, to display your ideas with clarity and memorably.

Each Major Point needs to be expanded or explained. Each one enhances the goal that you are trying to achieve in your talk. Each point smoothly flows from one to the next. In some cases, as in the talk that persuades, you may have to tell them of the satisfaction they can get if the need is answered, or in the case of a talk to activate, a form of directive or action one has to do to bring satisfaction to the listener. Keep the group attitude in mind and a constant reminder of what the audience expects to hear from you.

Techniques For Developing Major Points And Supporting Your Ideas

You support your ideas using:

a. Reasoning
b. Elaboration

Supporting materials add clarity and credibility to your ideas. You can use some of the following or a combination of them:

a. Testimonies, experiences, anecdotes, narratives, case histories (yours or somebody’s) - are very powerful because of the personal and human touch you add in your talk. Remember, the audience is interested in real people.
b. Examples -The phrase, “For Example,” always gets the attention of the audience.
c. Definitions - Define terms in words easily understood and with a light touch.
d. Comparisons and contrasts - Many talks during the Cursillo Weekend give contrasting profiles of a person (e.g., False Ideal Vs. Genuine Ideal).
e. Illustrations - Use graphs, bar, line, pie charts for impact.
f. Audio-visual aids or actual demonstration - are effective means to help the audience understand (Visual aids are dealt with in great detail in the next chapter Hardware of Your Talk).
g. Facts - dates, statistics. You may have to explain your statistics or if you can present it in a more visual form (such as a chart or graphical form), it will be easier to grasp.
h. Quotations - from the Bible, Encyclicals, religious periodicals or persons of authority.

Be more specific and selective in the use of your supporting materials. Use a good variety but not too much to be so confusing to the audience. Remember that you are simply trying to make your points more understandable and a lot clearer. Leave out boring and irrelevant details and any information that you cannot verify. You are not out there to impress your listeners about the amount of knowledge you have or about your knowledge of all biblical passages and all encyclicals. The more effective you back up your major points the more interesting and more memorable your presentation is to the audience.

Transition Statements

The body of your talk is composed of your main idea and an interrelated group of major points that support that main idea or thesis. So as not to appear that you are simply hopping from one major point to the other, you need to add transition statements to your talk.

Transition statements are signposts that tell your audience where they have been and where they are going. These statements allow you to go from one topic to the next and yet maintain a cohesive whole. As in the “Train of Thought” you need couplers to connect your boxcars. Your couplers are the transition phrases and your boxcars are your major points. You can use a variety of phrases such as:

a. “On the other hand, ...”
b. “First, the good news.... And now, the bad news...”
c. “In the past, .... Today, ...”
d. “In the past, .... Now, however, ...”
e. “I’ve shown you how to .... Now, I’m going to show you why ...”
f. “In addition, ....”
g. “Since we’ve already covered ...., let’s take a moment to look at ....”
h. “Now that you’ve seen that ...., you’ll see how this relates to .....”
i. “So, as you can see ....”
j. “And speaking of ....”
k. “This leads us to ....”
l. “Turning to the next issue ....”
m. “Now, let’s talk about ....”
n. “Another important point is ....”
o. “Here’s an important item we can add ....”
p. You can ask a question which you’ll answer. For instance, “Now that you are done with your opening , what are you going to do next ?” Your answer will now lead you to next topic.

6. Climax

The last item in the body of your talk is the climax. This is your final opportunity to get through to you audience. This is very appropriate mostly in talks that try to stimulate, to persuade or to move people to action. The climax provides one last chance to achieve your intention.

You can create that climactic effect in a number of ways:

a. an anecdote of dramatic intensity
b. quotes or headlines from a newspaper
c. a shocking statistic
d. story of a miraculous cure
e. story of an awful disappointment
f. a startling announcement

In this one last chance to drive home your major points, you can use a more dramatic language, more visually colorful description or more active verbs.

For instance, on the Apostolic Action rollo that I presented during the Filipino Cursillo Weekend #53, my climactic ending consisted of images of what the world looked like — slides showing the misery of humankind and created an urgency that we Christians need to do something so that the Culture of Death would not dominate our society.

In another, on the talk about Study and the need for it, the climax centered on Christ’s Agony in Gethsemane where He prayed and where He took his apostles who kept on falling asleep (just like some of the candidates and some table coordinators), and how we needed to grapple with the temptation of laziness or a lack of desire to further our knowledge of God.

7. Ending

The conclusion or closing tells the audience that your talk is over. Here are four (4) quick rules to end your talk:

a. End on time - If your allotted time is 25 minutes, then end it in 25.
b. End with conviction - Do not end with a statement like “Well, that’s all I have to say this morning.” This statement leaves the listener with a feeling of being let down, a feeling of incompleteness. Droopy, downbeat and low-spirited endings will undo everything that you have done in the beginning and the body of your talk no matter how well you did there.
c. End on target - Use the last minute or minute and a half to emphasize your main idea or thesis. Do not introduce any new topics or information. Do not go endlessly sorting through your notes or scripts to use up unused materials. Your “final remarks” will not be final if you keep on doing that.
d. Tell them you are ending it — then do it.

So, be brief, be firm, be relevant, be gone.

There are several ways to end a talk. Choose the one you are most comfortable with and which will make your listeners remember the main idea your are trying to put across. Remember that any of these has to relate to your main idea or thesis. You can choose one from the following:

a. A brief story or anecdote to illustrate your main point
b. A quotation or a ringing, strong phrase
c. A song or a poem
d. An example of your main theme
e. A summary of your major points
f. A compelling imagery or a memorable scene
g. Share a personal philosophy
h. A rhetorical question

I have seen many rollistas end their talks very effectively with the use of, for instance, a song or a musical piece, a quotation or a rhetorical question. In a talk on Study, following the climactic story about Jesus’ Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, He keeps on asking the apostles if it is possible for them to keep watch for at least an hour. I, then, reminded the listeners that we do have 24 hours in a day, and that if eight (8) hours are spent sleeping, and eight (8) hours are spent at work, we are left with eight (8) more hours to do other things. Is it quite possible to spend at least one (1) hour, as Jesus asks the apostles, to keep watch by Studying God and His Creation through the Bible and the Church Oral Tradition ? That isn’t too much to ask: one (1) hour in 24.

Good Talk Characteristics

Most listeners, when interviewed, will tell you that a good talk satisfies them if it meets the following:

a. It is easy to understand
b. It feels like the speaker is talking to me
c. It is interesting

How do we talk like that ?

a. Make it personal and not distant, not remote. Do not make it like “To-Whom-It- May-Concern” kind of talk. Speak in the first person such as “I, We.” Address the audience as “You.” This is a way to personalize and humanize your talk. Remember that the audience is interested in real people.

b. Make it clear and not confusing.

1) Use simple, direct words. For example,

Instead of Use

instead of respond use answer
instead of utilize use use
instead of sizable use large
instead of annually use every year
instead of aggregate use total
instead of deceased use dead
instead of duplicate use copy
instead of endeavor use try
instead of demonstrate use show
instead of recapitulate use sum up
instead of sufficient use enough
instead of vehicle use car, van, truck
instead of verification use proof

2) Avoid jargon - Jargons are terms specific to a certain industry or a group of people or profession. Jargon sounds “bureaucratese” and the audience ends to block them out of their listening process. For instance, accountants will take about inventory types as last-in, first-out, first-in, first-out; computer people will talk to you in terms of RAM, CPU, IDE, CD-ROM, Internet, etc.; even priests use jargon terms such as “logos,” “Christo-centric,” “First Cause,” “eschatological,” “lectio,” etc.; engineers have their own jargon.

3) Avoid slang - Slang refers to colloquialisms or local usage which is part of a regional pattern of speech, a cultural expression or simply the latest cool language. Sometimes, such terms are generational. There was a time when ‘far-out’ was accepted (a favorite exclamation by singer John Denver). Teen-agers nowadays use “bad” to mean good, great or terrific. And now, I’m hearing my teen-age daughter say, “Wow, Dad, that was hell-a-cool!” (And I thought hell was supposed to be hot !).

4) Avoid abbreviations - Unless you explain what the abbreviation means, you cannot assume that your audience knows what that means. For in stance, a personnel employee told me, a person at MIS, that she was going LOA ! I just had to ask her what LOA meant. “Ahh, leave of absence,” she said. And I said, “In that case, your last pay check may not be processed because the CPS was in an ABEND. “What is that she asks ? “Oh, our computer payroll system is in an abnormal ending,” I said. “Now, you know what I mean.”

5) Avoid euphemisms - Euphemisms are noth ing but attempts to mask the true meaning of a word. A euphemism tends to minimize or undermine the true meaning of terms. Unless you are a spokesperson for a company in charge of trying to minimize the effects of a bad piece of news or a government official trying to do the same, euphemism does not have a place in a normal talk. When the car salesman tells you that, “This is a multi-million dollar lot of preowned cars,” it simply means that’s a lot of used cars. Here are some examples of euphemism:

instead of disadvantaged use poor
instead of less fortunate use poor
instead of motivational deprivation use laziness
instead of negative patient care outcome use death
instead of passed away use died
instead of nomenclature use name
instead of terminated use fired
instead of connects use positive remarks
instead of disconnects use negative remarks

6) Avoid unfamiliar language - No French or German or other foreign words unless those words are already accepted in everyday conversational language. For instance, “bona fide” is an accepted term to mean “genuine” but a “quid pro quo” may not be. While “persona non grata” may already have wide acceptance to mean “an unwelcome person,” the words “pro bono” may not be.When in doubt, use a simple, more straightforward term.

7) Simplify your phrases - Get rid of pompous, wordy and overwritten statements.


instead of a large number of use many
instead of a sufficient number of use enough
instead of a total of 45 are serving use 45 are serving
instead of are in agreement with use agree
instead of bring the matter to the attention use tell
instead of demonstrate the ability use can
instead of exert a leadership role use lead
instead of in the majority of instances use usually
instead of in the event of use if
instead of I’m of the opinion that use I think
instead of provide assistance to use help
instead of predicated on use based on
instead of with reference to use about
instead of was in communication with use talked

8) Avoid sexist language - You can find a suitable substitute for words to avoid the sexist tone of a noun. For instance, you can use “spokesperson” instead of a “spokesman,” a “homemaker” instead of a “housewife,” “humankind” instead “mankind,” “worker-hours” instead of “man-hours.” However, do not overdo the avoidance of sexist terms if it will only confuse more. The more important consideration is the message you are trying to tell the audience.

9) Sharpen your sentences - by making them short, by using variety and using the active voice. Short sentences are powerful and are easily remembered. The audience can’t follow you if your sentence is too long. Try doing it. Write a 20-word sentence with passive verbs. Read it aloud. See how it sounds like. Better yet, read it to somebody and hear what that person says. Active voice make your talk dynamic.

10) Use transition statements (discussed above under Techniques for Developing Major Points)

c. Make it interesting and not dull. There are several ways to do this:

1) Captivate the audience with your vocal superiority
(discussed in the Chapter 6 What Makes It Effective).

2) Add richness to your language and avoid vague modifiers. A rich word is vivid, specific and definite. For instance, instead of saying, “We are rather understaffed and we will correct this situation” you can say, “We have three vacancies and will fill these openings.” Instead of talking “infrastruc tures,” you can say, “schools, bridges, freeways, roads.” And instead of “We had plenty to eat,” you can say, “We had roast beef, potatoes and French bread.”

3) Maintain the relevance to your main idea, that is, not drift or wander to some irrelevant details.

4) Speak to the needs of the audience. Relate your concerns to their concerns.



CHAPTER 4

THE HARDWARE OF YOUR TALK

Two things compose what Public Speaking author Jeff Scott Cook calls the “Hardware of Your Talk.” There are the written script in the format you prefer and your audio-visual aids.

1. The speaker will base his talk on the following written source of delivery or a combination of them.

a. Full text manuscript - offers the speaker a security blanket. It is written word-for-word. The format is as follows:

1) text is in large type, double-spaced between line, triple-spaced between paragraphs.
2) put the page in the upper right hand corner so it is easy to spot.
3) fill only 2/3 of your page so as not to drop your chin when you get to the bottom of the page.
4) end your page in a complete sentence.

b. Detailed outline - where every idea and supporting idea is expressed in a sentence in an outline form and is about 1/3 of the entire full text manuscript. In the detailed outline, you think in terms of ideas.

c. Skeleton outline - is similar to the Detailed Outline but leaner. This is the traditional outline as we know it. It has a minimum of words written on it. This is where you use the Roman numer als for major points, uppercase letters for supporting points or ideas, and numbers to clarify those ideas.

Notes on writing your outline: It is best to write your outline on regular letter-sized sheets of paper and not on index cards. If you decide on index cards, make sure that they are properly numbered in the sequence you are going to use them. And don’t drop those index cards at any time before or during your talk!

d. Pictures - allow you to visualize your ideas in forms drawn or printed on large cards. Pictures represent ideas and not words or phrases.

Notes: You can write notes on your script as to where you want to incorporate your audio-visual aids. You can also indicate signposts or symbols to make you pause, slow down, or heighten the pace, etc., at appropriate times.

2. Audio-visual aids are just that — they are audio-visual aids. As such, they are supposed to help only in understanding and making your points clear to the audience. To read everything from the visual aids makes you simply an audio-visual technician -- not a speaker. The audience is not read to. The audience is spoken with. Visual aids must be visible and incorporated in your manuscript through notes on the margin or in appropriate places on the page. Do not let your audio-visual aids get ahead of you. Do not let them get behind you. Use them at the correct time. The two kinds of audio-visual aids are:

 
a. Direct audio-visual aids - are the simplest and most common. Examples are:

1) Flip Charts - are devices for holding erect a multisheet of drawing paper. The most common is the free-standing tripod that comes with a tray to hold pens and bracket to hold the paper pad in place. How do we prepare our flip charts?

a) Use the ones with heavy, thick paper so markers won’t bleed on the next page.
b) Leave the first few pages blank so that you don’t reveal the contents of your first visual display.
c) Use big, bold letters or graphics.
d) Use short, simple words, preferably no more than four (4) lines a page.
d) Leave two or three blanks in between visual displays.
e) Arrange visual displays in the order of use.
f) Stand on the side as you point to the chart but face the audience.
g) Bring masking tape just in case brackets don’t work.

2) Graphs - Use the same rules as the Flip Charts.

3) Chalkboards - Start out blank. When not writing, put the chalk down. Don’t lean on chalkboards. When erasing, keep a banter with the audience.

4) Models, Objects, Pictures, Props - are objects used to illustrate or to use as an example. Handle them properly. Cover and uncover them only as you present them. Put these away immediately after presenting them. Showing the Bible, the rosary are three-dimensional objects used as visual aids.


5) Handouts - must not be given during the time of presentation. They are notorious scene-stealers. Give the audience only something that you have also showing identically on your larger visual aid. That way, you are looking at the same piece of information as the audience’s.

6) Cassette player - is used to play either a musical piece or some audio to illustrate something or reinforce a major point. In presenting my ending on the rollo on Apostolic Action, I used the cassette player to fit an appropriate piece of music to the vivid images that were being shown through the slide projector.

b. Projected visual aids - as the name implies, get projected on a larger screen. There are a few types:

1) Overhead Projector (also called VuGraph) - use transparencies or acetates placed on the glass. Some guidelines:

a. Stand by the machine.
b. Turn it off when not using (glare and noise are distracting).
c. Place the first one on the glass even before you begin.
d. Be familiar with its operation so that you don’t fumble around at presentation time. e. Bring an extra bulb, an extension cord, a three-prong adapter.
f. Set up your projector before the audience comes in.
g. Working on transparencies: (1) Draw on your transparencies in advance. You can use special markers or printers to put your illustrations on them, (2) Use simple layouts, big headlines, bright colors, (3) Make sure your sheets are properly numbered and know how to place each one properly and in the right direction, (4). Use pencil or pointer and not your finger if you need to point at an item.

2) Slide Projector - uses 35-mm slides to project images on the screen. Depending on how you are going to use this, make sure that you are comfortable and know how to use it. Again, make sure you have a spare bulb with you.

3) Presentation Graphics Projected from Computers - Nowadays, most offices and even households use popular computer programs that enhance presentation. Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Powerpoint, Harvard Graphics, Lotus Freelance and Corel Presentations are some of the most popular. Again, familiarity of use is the key. Make sure you know what you are doing. You don’t want to see an unwanted game of Solitaire or Mine sweeper popping out in the middle of your presentation. Also, a word of warning to computer geniuses out there: we are not out there to impress our audience with dazzling special effects a la Star Wars or a la Toy Story. The objective is to get the message in the clearest way possible.

4) Videotapes - are tremendously effective because these are something that audience can get identified with since almost everybody has a television and a VCR at home. If you have time and money, you can produce it. However, videotapes are hard to edit and produce and very time-consuming. If you do so, make sure that you observe the rules out lined below.

Regardless of which format you use to project your ideas, you need to observe these rules:

1) Convey only one idea per screen.
2) Make lettering legible or graphics clear.
3) Limit the number of words.
4) Keep the subject content simple.
5) Use color if you can to add variety.


CHAPTER 5

ENRICHING YOUR TALK

There are some talks that linger in the minds and the hearts of the audiences. What makes those talks very special ? Style. Some talks have a certain “ring” in them that makes them easy to remember. There is a certain psychological appeal that makes them seem important to remember. And they create an impact that makes them easily quotable. Style happens in both the writing of your script and the actual delivery. Style in your script can use some of the following techniques:

1. Tripartite division - Good things come in groups of three. Three has always been a powerful number. Consider the following examples:


God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present.
God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
Man’s basic needs: food, clothing and shelter.
... government of the people, by the people and for the people ....

2. Parallelism - creates balance with an emotional appeal of harmony. For example:

From St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; ....”
From a well-known statesman: “Where peace is unknown, make it welcome; where peace is fragile, make it strong; where peace is temporary, make it permanent.”
Another example: “If you can make a difference in your own self, you can make a difference at home. If you can make a difference at home, you can make a difference in your work place. If you can make a difference in your work place, you can make a difference in your community.”

3. Imagery - adds color and vividness to emphasize a point. Some examples:

Winston Churchill in describing the totalitarian Communist government: “An iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
Another example: “Priesthood is now in the list of endangered species. There are fewer priests than ever in the whole world.”
And yet another: “The Culture of Death is slowly burrowing its claws into the flesh of our society.”

 

4. Antithesis - is to switch the elements of a paired statements. Examples:

John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Samuel Johnson: “The manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.”

5. Repetition - is one of the most effective means to make a certain part of the talk memorable. Examples:

Abraham Lincoln: “... we cannot dedi cate, we cannot consecrate, se cannot hallow this ground....”
Winston Churchill: “... we shall fight on the seas and ocean,... we shall fight on the beaches, ... we shall fight on the land grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets....”
Another example: “Your brother is the unborn baby not given a chance to live. Your brother is the skin-and-bones child in Rwanda dying from hunger. Your brother is the homeless man in the streets, frozen stiff in winter’s cold. Your brother is the elderly, abandoned and uncared for in their sunset years....”

6. Rhetorical question - is best used to issue a challenge.


An example: “Is it too much to ask to devote an hour of your time a week to help the elderly do their chores ?”
Another example: “Whatever happens to the basic commandment of love your neighbor?”

7. Alliteration - is the beginning of sounds at the beginnings of words or rhyming ending in accented syllables.

An example: “We need to share a little bit of our time, talent and treasure with those who are in need.”
Another example: “Handshakes, hugs, humility and ... hope ....”

8. Balance - A balanced phrase opposes two elements, the first usually spoken with pitch going up, the second with pitch going down. It is effective in moderation only.

9. Other Figures of Speech - Examples are simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” was one of the best speeches ever — ranked alongside Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Sweat, Toil and Tears” speech. The “Dream” speech incorporated many techniques that made it one to remember for many. We could have used Dr. King’s speech in our examples and fit many of those techniques we mentioned.

 


CHAPTER 6

WHAT MAKES IT EFFECTIVE ?

Effective communication depends on the consistency among the following component parts of the message, the verbal composed of words spoken and the voice, and the nonverbal composed of the face, eyes and the body.

a. The words spoken
b. The voice that speaks them
c. The face and eyes
d. The body

When your facial expressions, your tone of voice and bodily posture say one thing and your words say another, the words don’t mean anything. When there is an inconsistency in these parts of communication, what matters most is the emotional content. To get it we read the body language. Emotional content includes such things as whether the message is happy or sad, serious or light-hearted, urgent or casual. Our perception also includes the assessment of the speaker’s conviction. Does he really believe what he is saying or is he just saying it ? When body, face, voice and words are all synchronized, the spoken words are listened to and taken at face value.

We have already talked about the words, your manuscript and the style you may need to incorporate in the written words. Let’s talk about the remaining components.

Voice

a. Project it; Give it the proper volume; must be loud enough.
b. Has an adequate and varied rate. Maintain a rhythm that makes it interesting. Don’t keep a fanlike cadence that lulls your listeners to sleep. Don’t do a monotonous monologue. It can brisk or slow depending on what you are saying.
c. Match your tone with what you are saying. How do you want your words to sound ? How doyou want them to feel when they hit your listener’s eardrum ?
d. Use clear diction. If you have an accent, don’t worry too much about it. Most people find accents quite interesting and charming — but a speaker must be understood. Your own accent adds a distinct personality to your talk. Some rules:

(1) Say proper nouns slowly (names, places, dates). Repeat them if you have to.
(2) Don’t mumble.
(3). Use a pleasant pitch.
(4). Have a good phrasing. It enables the listener to rest between thoughts.
(5). Use frequent pauses at appropriate times. Use pauses instead of fillers such “umm,” “Ahh,” “Er,” “Y’know” and other stalling tactics.

Face

The best way to look at your own self and your facial expressions is to use a videotape, if you have any. Otherwise, a mirror is good enough (just make sure that person in front of you does not go sleep!). Allow your face to communicate your feelings. Don’t do a President Carter stunt of smiling regard less of what he is saying !

Eyes

a. Speakers who do not engage the listeners with their eyes are judged less credible than those who do.
b. Poor eye contact happens as a result of poor preparation and unfamiliarity with the talk. If you stay glued a hundred per cent on your manuscript, your audience will find your less credible.
c. Do not be concerned too much with the words you are saying but more with the ideas you are trying to share with them. Your eye contact communicates to the audience the depth of your beliefs.
d. Your eye contact also gives you an immediate feedback of the mood of the audience. Do you see yawns ? Do you notice “head snappers?” Do you see frowns? Or nods of agreement ? Do you see shaking heads of disagreement ? There is a constant give-and-take with your audience. The feedback you get allows you to make adjustments or in some cases, improvise.
e. Do not stare at the ceiling. Do not stare at the floor.

Body

a. Every movement - arms, shrugs, changes in platform location should punctuate the message of the words.
b. Get excited with your message. Be animated by getting involved in what you are saying.
c. Avoid random and distracting movements such as:

(1) back and forth pacing
(2) picking your nose
(3) constant adjusting of clothing
(4) grimacing if you think you mess up
(5) scratching your head; toying with your hair
(6) gesturing wildly
(7) shifting from foot to foot; tapping your foot
(8) fiddling with your notes, marker or chalk

Again, the most important to remember with these components of your talk is they all must agree. If your verbal delivery clashes with your nonverbal message, the audience does not know which one to believe.


CHAPTER 7

REHEARSAL

Let me say that it’s best to memorize the first 15 seconds of your talk. Having written it, try not to look at it unless you must. In the beginning, you are trying to establish rapport and warmth with the audience. Looking at them, establishing eye contact will give you confidence, thus, allowing you to open well. Try to do it without stumbling or groping for words. You must do the same, memorize the last 15 seconds of your talk, for your ending. Keeping eye contact reinforces your emotional ties with the audience.

Before you do your rehearsal, you will determine the best method of delivery or presentation. You have several to choose from:

1. Written manuscript - is the safest way to give your presentation for obvious reasons. All of the language is right in front of you. Everything is there in logical sequence. You have a track to run on. If not done properly, this is the most difficult way because you might have a tendency to stay glued to your text, thus, rob you of the important eye contact you need to establish with your audience. You get locked in a series of words and phrases.

2. Written manuscript extemporaneous method - is similar to the written manuscript except you only use the written text as a security blanket. This is one of the most popular methods used by speakers. Your preparation allows you to already get to know the ideas that are contained in your manuscript and so you can do the following
technique:

a. Look at the script (but not talking)
b. Absorb a chunk
c. Look up and, with eye contact, say it to a listener, then ....
d. Look at the script (but not talking)
e. Absorb a chunk
f. Look up and, with eye contact, say it to another one, then, repeat the same process.

 

When you’re done with one page, slide it from side to side. Don’t lift it and turn it over because it is distracting and accentuates the appearance of reading.

Notes: In both methods #1 and #2, your should practice reading it aloud. Edit the text carefully for smoothness and intelligibility. Mark your script to remind you where to pause, emphasize or vary your speaking rate. Put marks on the page to find yourself. Bold key words. Mark where visual aids come into play. You may also want to tape-record your talk and bring it with you in your car or play it in your cassette recorder. You can be your own best critique.

3. Memorized Presentation - has all the benefits of the written manuscript as far as the language, information and sequence are concerned. Memorize only if you possess all of the following: a) you have a photographic memory, b) you work well under pressure, c) you do not get nervous.

There are not many public speaking books that recommend the memorized method because of the following: a) it sounds mechanical, artificial and packaged, b) it destroys spontaneity and enthusiasm because you are locked in trying to remember the next set of words or phrases, c) it is dangerous because a temporary “memory block” is enough to ruin the whole thing, d) it is unsettling if something unexpected happens and you end up going back to the beginning of a paragraph.

4. Traditional Outline Method - has a structure that shows only the main idea and the major points with supporting ideas or sub-ideas. Your takeoff points are those sub-ideas. While some people may be good at using outlines, I suggest that you write your outline on letter-sized sheets of paper and not on index cards. There is a chance of index cards being dropped and that is enough to ruin your whole talk unless, of course, you can do an impromptu one. The disadvantage of the Outline Method is that since you do not have the benefit of a written manuscript, you may have a tendency to undertalk some topics and to overtalk on others.

5. Ad-lib Method - is one that uses no notes, no visual aids, no nothing. It is the best of all if you are a very gifted speaker because it does all four things, a) audience involvement, b) excellent eye contact, c) spontaneity of thought, d) flexibility of language. However, you must know your material absolutely cold. In other words, you must have a total grasp of what you will talk about.

Are You Ready for A Dry Run ?

Speaking from personal experience, I must say that I do not consider my talk rehearsal as a “rehearsal” in the sense that I would do or say certain things and say, “Oh, it’s OK, it’s only a rehearsal.” By that I mean, that each time I do this “rehearsal” I think of it as the “real thing.” No ifs or buts. That’s how I would do it. That way, from the very first time that I do that talk whether at home in the privacy of my bedroom or in the shower, I look at it like that’s the last time. I employ the same uniform standards that I would require of any talk. In the following paragraphs, I will assume the extemporaneous type which I mostly use in my talk.

There is no short-cut to success especially in public speaking. But the more you do the better you get because you are learning each time. And so the more rehearsals the better. You must rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until you know your talk well that simply glancing at your notes brings ideas to mind.

Rehearsal is not one hurried run-through. You may need six rehearsals and a couple of dress rehearsals using all your script, props, visual aids, notes, to be really prepared. Simulate your location as closely as you can. Or you can imagine your setting as you rehearse. If you have access to videotape, videotape your rehearsal. Or you can audiotape it and listen to your timing, pace, voice level, etc. Rehearsals psyche you up.

Here are some tips:

1. Frequency of practice is better than the length of practice session.
2. Think about your audience sitting arrangement. This helps you in determining how you will do your eye contact sweep.
3. Spend sometime looking at the mirror to find a posture, a presence that speaks positively about you. Good posture not only looks good. It’s also good for voice production and good for your confidence.
4. Stay about 6-8 inches from the lectern.
5. Rehearse as though you were actually delivering it already.
6. With each rehearsal, you will rely less and less on your notes. Your gestures, your body language will also come naturally.
7. If using visual aids, integrate them with your script, and that you rehearse using them each time, just as you will in your presentation.
8. Review your verbal and nonverbal message (words, voice, eyes, face, body). Make sure that your words match your gestures and actions.
9. Always time your talk and make adjustments accordingly.
10. Rehearse your talk in front of friends or family or colleagues to get a reading on both content and manner. Ask for an overall review. Ask them what your talk is all about. If you are on target, they should be able to repeat it.
11. Rehearse using your videocamera, if you have one, or a mirror.
12. Record your talk on a cassette recorder and pop in your car or anytime you have a chance to do so. It helps improve your rate, tone and style.
13. Your talk will be different each time. It’s only natural because you are doing the extemporaneous method. The most important thing is that you are able to get the message across to your audience.
14. Know your introduction and your conclusion by heart so that you do not have to refer to your notes. It is important to establish eye contact in the beginning and in the end.


CHAPTER 8

BUT I’M NERVOUS !

In addition to the writing of your talk and your rehearsals, there are two (2) other things to consider in an effective preparation. These are:

1. Developing rational expectations and helpful attitudes. The fear of public speaking is grouped into two:

a. Fear about your audience — They will ask me something I don’t know. They will have heard all of it before. They won’t be convinced.

b. Fear about yourself — that you’ll make a horrible mistake. I’ll forget what I say and I’ll fall apart. I’ll freeze and won’t be able to continue. I’ll be bored and it will show.

Your audience is basically friendly. They have taken the time to be there to listen to you. If anything they are rooting for you. If you are asked, answer truthfully. Or, you can say that you can check on that and get back to him/ her. They’ll admire your for your honesty and sincerity. Remember, they are rooting for you.

Each talk is unique in itself. There are no two talks alike unless, of course, you are delivering somebody else’s and you are just a mechanical person who opens his/her mouth to utter the words. You write your own talk and inject your own personality to it.

If your goal is to convince, use all available means to see to it that they are convinced. We have provided you with the tools in this book. If not, take comfort in the fact that maybe, next time an opportunity comes up, you will do much better. It is a never-ending learning experience. But if you have done your homework, I’m sure that the majority of your audience will have heard you.

You have to feel good and positive about yourself. If mistakes happen, don’t agonize, improvise. After all, unless you make it known to them, the audience doesn’t know about your mistakes. They did not come to hear your mistake. So, don’t add that blunder any more by mentioning it in your talk.

And even if the audience notices your nervousness, what are they going to do? Leave? That’s not likely. More than likely, they will empathize with you and admire for the courage to come to talk to them.

You need to guard against the negative self-talk that makes you think you did not succeed. Develop an upbeat attitude. The voice inside you talking - that self-talk makes things much worse than they are. Surest remedy: unrelenting preparation.

2. Understanding and learning to control the physiology and psychology of stress.

a. Understand that stage fright is manageable.
b. Do your homework.
c. Become thoroughly familiar with your opening to boost your confidence.
d. Accept your body’s reaction to stress as normal.
e. Learn to relieve and reduce stress symptoms by:
1) moving hands, feet, arms,
2) taking a few deep breaths before you begin — inhale through your nose, count to 6, exhale through your mouth,
3) standing with knees slightly bent to help circulation,
4) taking a drink of water if mouth gets dry,
5) get plenty of rest and sleep.
f. Realize that nervousness is a positive asset. It is simply positive energy. It makes your adrenalin flow into your bloodstream. It can get your creative juices flowing, adding enthusiasm to your voice, tone and manner. It will stimulate you to speak with style.


CHAPTER 9

D-DAY

Okay, it’s Delivery Day. You have done all your toil, your “blood, sweat and tears” and are ready to deliver. This is the day. So, if you haven’t said your prayer, say it now. Remember that the Holy Spirit Who gives us the gift of tongues has been with you all along — from the very day that you accepted the assignment through your preparation and rehearsals all the way to this D-Day. So, I doubt that the Holy Spirit will abandon you now. The Holy Spirit is there and will be with you throughout the duration of your talk.

If you are well-prepared, the audience will be an exciting challenge to you to skillfully share your talk with them and to enjoy doing it. You confidence and pleasure at being with them will be contagious, so let that confidence and pleasure show.

Here are some tips on D-Day:

1. Did you have a good night’s sleep and rest ? I hope you had. It’s important.

2. Do not do any more rehearsals on the day of delivery.

3. Try not to talk to anybody about your TALK that might make you second guess some of the things you have already done.

4. Wear something comfortable, preferably the one you wore during your dress rehearsal. Watch out for those colors especially shirts or dresses that might show your perspiration in case you sweat heavily during your talk. It’s so unsettling and distracting.

5. When in Rome, dress as the Romans do. By that I mean, don’t dress up in your double-breasted jacket if everybody else in the audience is wearing shirts or is casually dressed. Remember, the “common bond” you are trying to establish with them. So, you have to be one of them.

6. Arrive early to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. If you have not had the opportunity to check the place you are going to talk, check it now. Go around where the lectern is, where your visuals are going to be, where your overhead projector, how much cord you need to reach the wall, fasten the cord to the floor so that you don’t trip on it, go to where the audience is going to be, sit and look at the lectern. Basically, surveying the area to get used to it. Remember all audio-visual aids should already be in place, complete and in the correct order by the time you get there. YOU DO NOT DO YOUR SET UP AT THE TIME OF YOUR TALK.

7. Make sure that you have extra copies of your script. You have one with you inside your folder. Maybe, one in the car, and another with a friend of yours.

8. If you are feeling nervous, try some breathing exercise. And you may want to pay the restroom a visit ... just to check how you look in front of the mirror and maybe to relieve yourself of excessive bodily stress !

9. Feel good about yourself. Do this conscious thought process, “O.K., I have taken this assignment. I know exactly what I am up against. I have prepared. I have practiced. I look good. I feel good. This is a great bunch of people. I am ready to go!”

So, JUST DO IT !


CHAPTER 10

CONCLUSION - IT ONLY GETS BETTER

While the majority of us don’t really seek to speak in public, there comes a time when we are called and chosen to give a talk about a particular topic. If you think about it, not many people are given a chance. Welcome the opportunity and make the most of it.

There are many tools out there — not just this book — that you can rely on. Each one has a different thrust. And I’m sure that there will be some out there that will be to your liking.

In the Diocese of Oakland, the Filipino Cursillo Movement holds two Cursillo Weekends, one for the men’s and the other for the women’s. On the average, for each weekend, about 45 people are called to serve and out of the 45, maybe, a dozen get to do talks and/or meditation. So, it is really a very rare opportunity to be asked to do the talk. I look at it as an opportunity to be a leader even if only for the duration of the talk. During the 25 minutes that you are there in front of the audience, you get a chance to influence them — whether you are simply sharing a knowledge, persuading them to practice our faith or prodding them into concrete apostolic action. It is a unique opportunity — one that you should not try to shirk from. After all, how many times do you get to talk in front of people in a lifetime?

And for each one talk or meditation that you do, you learn. With every learning experience comes an improvement because as you look back you realize that you could make better something that was good. In the next chance that you get, you remember the ones that you would like to add, remove or change. And you incorporate them in that next talk.

We are all endowed with the elements of an effective communication. We have the voice and the tongue to speak the words, we have the eyes to engage with the audience, we have the face to express our feelings and the parts of the body to accentuate our messages. So, there is no reason why, with practice and the proper application of techniques, we cannot be excellent speakers.

So, the next time, your team coordinator calls you ... say “Yes” even before he or she finishes asking you “Can you also do the talk on ....” The Holy Spirit will make you do that anyway. And The Holy Spirit will stay with you in your speaking journey ... until the consummation of the talk. God bless all.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brydon Steven R. and Michael Scott, Between One And Many -- The Art and Science of Public Speaking, Mountain View, California: 1994.

Cook, Jeff Scott, The Elements of Speechwriting and Public Speaking, New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1989.

Copeland, Lewis and Faye (editors), 10,000 Jokes, Toasts & Stories, New York: Doubleday, 1965.

Detz, Joan, How To Write and Give A Speech, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

Ehrlich, Henry, Writing Effective Speeches, New York: Paragon House, 1992.

Minninger, Joan and Barbara Goulter, The Perfect Presentation, New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Mira, Thomas K., Speak Now - The Art of Public Speaking, New York: Random House, Inc. 1995.

Monkhouse, Bob, Just Say A Few Words, New York: M. Evans & Company, Inc., 1988.

Prochnow, Herbert and Herbert Prochnow, Jr., The Toastmaster’s Treasure Chest, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979.

Rogers, Natalie H., Talk-Power, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1982.

Ryan Margaret, So You Have To Give A Speech, New York: Franklin Watts, 1987.

Sarnoff, Dorothy, Never Be Nervous Again, New York: Ivy Books, 1987.

Snyder, Elayne, Speak For Yourself — With Confidence, New York: A Plume Book by the New American Library, 1983.

Stone, Janet and Jane Bachner, Speaking Up, New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1977.

Strunk, William Jr., and White, E. B., The Elements of Style, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1979.

Weiss, Donald, How to Make an Effective Speech, New York: American Management Association, 1987.