How to Be a Good Speaker

Being a good speaker requires planning, clarity of thought and a well constructed beginning, middle and end to your speech. It is important to avoid creating confusion or leaving your listeners feeling that you have wasted their time. Follow these steps and people will appreciate what you have to say.

  1. Make eye contact. Eye contact is very important. You can look above the people’s head because it looks like your looking right at them, but you’re really not! Don’t overdo it or you’ll risk looking like you’re nodding your head or you can appear stiff.
  2. Have a point and stick to it. In some settings you must speak on a certain subject. Even in casual conversation, though, it is important to focus on a limited set of related ideas. If you drift from one tangentially related idea to the next your speech becomes a sort of bad poetry or misplaced filibuster that may quickly bore the listener.
  3. Speak clearly. It may be tempting to say, “El whooziwhatsit fonctionne bien in thinger teh other day.” It may also not be worth the listener’s time to try to figure out what you mean.
  4. Adjust your speech for your audience. A technical audience will appreciate your use of jargon and acronyms. If your audience has trouble grasping the concepts you are relating, it may be necessary to speak slowly and offer generally familiar examples.
  5. Don’t use one tone the entire speech. It makes you sound very dry, dull, and boring as a speaker and personality wise. It makes you a much better speaker when you raise your voice a bit here and there. Make it sort of like a debate almost, and it’s on something you really care for that’s really important! Study Martin Luther King. He is one of the most well-known speakers in history. His tone goes up and down.
  6. Don’t patronize. When people are treated like they’re idiots or little children, they may become hostile and ignore what you’re saying. You sound patronizing when you use sing-song tones in your speech or sigh loudly, or if you belittle the listeners in any way.
  7. Be interesting.
  8. Speak up. People have to hear what you are saying even if they are sitting in the back row or there is a lot of noise.
  9. Be honest. Remember the story of the boy who cried, “Wolf!”
  10. Organize what you’re saying. If there are several ideas or details related to your main point, speak about each one in a deliberate fashion. If you are trying to convey large amounts of information, you may need to outline what you will say at the outset and then summarize what you’ve said at the conclusion.
  11. Be polite, follow social conventions and be rational. Obviously there are many speakers that do not follow this step and yet have large and doting audiences. You probably aren’t one of those speakers.
  12. Use your hands! Nothing is worse than a speaker with his hands in his pocket or his hands just sitting by his side.
  13. Watch some videos of great speakers: Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy (JFK).

What is Speaking?

In sociolinguistics, SPEAKING or the SPEAKING model, is a model socio-linguistic study (represented as a mnemonic) developed by Dell Hymes. It is a tool to assist the identification and labeling of components of linguistic interaction that was driven by his view that, in order to speak a language correctly, one needs not only to learn its vocabulary and grammar, but also the context in which words are used.

To facilitate the application of his representation, Hymes constructed the acronym, S-P-E-A-K-I-N-G (for setting and scene, participants, ends, acts sequence, key, instrumentalities, norms, & genre) under which he grouped the sixteen components within eight divisions.

The model had sixteen components that can be applied to many sorts of discourse: message form; message content; setting; scene; speaker/sender; addressor; hearer/receiver/audience; addressee; purposes (outcomes); purposes (goals); key; channels; forms of speech; norms of interaction; norms of interpretation; and genres.