Eloquent Speech: Factors to Consider

  • Thread starter TenNen
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  • #1
What factors should be considered if we want to make an eloquent speech ?

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Speaking to persuade

TenNen said:
What factors should be considered if we want to make an eloquent speech ?
Do you mean a persuasive speech? And are you asking how to make one? I can tell you how to make a persuasive speech, if that is what you mean.
  • #3
Use the active voice. Think about what you are going to say before saying it. Use the active voice. Do not begin your speech with a joke. Use the active voice. Pause and shift gears after the first 20 minutes. Use the active voice.

Did I mention that you should use the active voice?
  • #4
And the active voice would be.. ?
  • #5
JohnDubYa said:
Use the active voice. Think about what you are going to say before saying it. Use the active voice. Do not begin your speech with a joke. Use the active voice. Pause and shift gears after the first 20 minutes. Use the active voice.

Did I mention that you should use the active voice?
You repeatedly mentioned it.
Thanks anyway,
  • #6
hitssquad said:
Do you mean a persuasive speech? And are you asking how to make one? I can tell you how to make a persuasive speech, if that is what you mean.
Yes, i am trying to make one, true. Can you help me ?

  • #7
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_actpass.html [Broken]

http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/passive.htm [Broken]

ACTIVE: Manufacturers built fewer cars in 1980 than 1979

PASSIVE: Fewer cars were built in 1980 than 1979.

Essentially, eliminate forms of the verb "to be" in your speech.

Ooooh, here is another tip: Use verbs, not nouns.

BAD: We have planned a meeting on Tuesday. ("Meeting" is a bad word, because it is a noun formed from a verb.)

GOOD: We will meet on Tuesday. (Here we use the verb "meet" rather than the noun "meeting.")

In fact, I should elevate the last tip to Number 1:


Speeches couched in the passive voice using nouns rather than verbs are muddy and unpersuasive (and boring).
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  • #8
Persuasively speaking by following an outline

TenNen said:
Yes, i am trying to make one, true. Can you help me?
To be persuasive, a speech should be extemporaneous. This means it should be somewhere between pre-written and ad-lib. To make an extemporaneous speech, basically you make an outline you want to follow, and than practice making up the text of your speech as you follow the outline. This way, your speech will not be as dull as a pre-written speech, and it will not be as rambling as a completely ad-lib speech. You will be making your words up as you go along, but each sub-point you make will be part of the logical outline that you pre-wrote and therefore nothing should seem too out of place or off-topic.

An idea to follow when writing your outline is the "rule of three." 1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. 2. Tell them. 3. Tell them what you just told them. Part 1 is the Introduction, Part 2 is the body, and Part 3 is the conclusion of your speech.

As you are in the process of writing your outline and practicing your speech, you should notice that your speech is lacking in persuasiveness without facts to back up whatever point you are making. This entails research. As you come up with backing facts and graphics, you can write them on large "visual aid" cards to use during your speech. If you practice your speech enough, you should get to the point where you naturally grab the visual aids as you need them to show the audience to back up your argument at the appropriate points in the pre-written speech outline.

But delivering a speech well will not guarantee persuasiveness. Knowing your audience is another important part of persuasive speaking. Every audience will have its peculiar biases, and knowing these biases and playing off of them may be like a back door through which you can enter into their collective trust.
  • #9
Thank you so very much,
I am going to have a speech next month, and what you instruct me to do really just makes me more nervous...It is not a speech contest, but like kind of one to persuade people to do something...I'll try to remember what you told me...Again, thanks,
  • #10
Being familiar with your speech outline and ways to ad-lib to it will help you become less nervous. The way to become familiar with your speech outline is to write it early and practice every day giving an extemporaneous speech that follows it. As the outline becomes more familiar, you will become less nervous.
  • #11
Good advice hitssquad, it may be good to practice the speech by standing in front of a mirror and imagine in your mind's eye you are standing in front of the audience you'll be presenting to.

It practices you to look them in the eye, to face them, and to see yourself as they will see you.

It is important to feel the adrenaline beforehand and feel confortable with it. No matter how accomplished a person is, everyone will be nervous for a speech.

For some reason I've always been told I've got a talent for presenting. The first time I had to stand infront of an audience I was so nervous that I had muscle twitches in the face :P I just completely ignored it and spoke really calmly to compensate and afterwards everyone was surprised by my coolness and that I didn't seem nervous at all (if only they knew :wink:)

So prepare well and feel confident that what you've got to say is important.
  • #12
I used to run a workshop on public speaking. There's a lot you can do to make yourself more persuasive, and there are a number of books on the subject.

In addition to hitssquad's advice of telling them what you're going to say, saying it, then telling them what you said, here are a few more tips:

Have no more than three main points. At the beginning of the speech, outline those three points for the audience, make sure you can connect each of the three points and do that for your audience as well.

In addition to choosing your words carefully and rehearsing the text so it flows smoothly, also rehearse your diction and timing. What do you want to emphasize? Make sure you say it in a way that emphasizes it (inflection and intonation...you don't want to bore your audience with a monotone speech). Choose words that fit your own speaking style, otherwise you'll stumble when you try to change your style to fit the speech. Practice clear diction...say every consonant...so your audience can understand you; we often don't notice how many words we drop letters out of when speaking. Do you use filler words when you get nervous or can't think of the next word? (Ah, um, like) To some extent, practicing your speech so you know which word comes next will help with that. In addition, have a friend help you out by practicing speaking in front of them, or answering random questions, and have your friend point out whenever you say a filler word so you get used to hearing yourself say it and can stop doing it (we usually don't notice our overuse of these fillers until someone else points it out to us).

Also, consider your mannerisms. Standing stock still is just as bad as pacing relentlessly. If you are using visual aids, such as slides, remember to face the audience, not the screen. Try not to fiddle with pointers, microphone cords, or any other distractions (get to the room ahead of time and remove anything you suspect will be a distraction if you can...such as an extra chair you might be tempted to lean on). Watch your hand gestures. If you're someone who talks with your hands, control that urge. Excessive gestures can be distracting. If you need to gesture for emphasis, keep your elbows down and outward and your hands up and centered...this keeps attention on you and your face, not out at your fingertips somewhere else.

Do you need to use a microphone? Find out ahead and practice according to the type of microphone you will have. If you will have one of those small ones that clips onto your clothing, attach it near your collar on the side of your body that is in the direction of the screen or center of the stage if you are not standing directly in the center facing the audience, this way you are talking in the direction of the microphone, not away from it, so it will pick up your voice more clearly. If you are going to be standing at a podium or using another form of stationary microphone, adjust it so it is directly aimed at your mouth and speak into it from about 6 inches away...this is the optimal working distance for microphones...any closer and you will sound garbled like you've swallowed the microphone...any further and the microphone won't pick up your voice as well so you'll fade out. Also, with that sort of microphone, remember if you turn your head to look at something else, such as a screen, then you need to do so in a way that keeps your mouth near the microphone or else nobody will hear you when you turn your head.

Some of this is obviously presentation style, not just how to write a persuasive speech, but it all goes together for giving an effective presentation. Plus, when you know about things like hand gestures and how the AV equipment works, I find it helps reduce the nervousness because you know if there's an equipment failure, you can handle it. Practice for those eventualities too...what happens if the projector dies and you have to talk without slides? Perhaps have your figures printed and in a folder so you can take them out and re-create the main points on a whiteboard (but keep that tucked away if you don't have problems so you aren't tempted to fiddle with the paper while speaking). Or, be prepared to speak extra loudly if the microphone doesn't work. Those are really the two main AV issues to worry about, and being prepared and at least *appearing* unruffled will make you look even more professional should there be a problem.

Even seasoned professionals get a little nervous before public speaking. I need to get to work now, but will try to return later and give you some tips on how to hide that (you can't just tell your hands to stop shaking, but there are things you can do to keep the audience from noticing).

By the way, does anyone think this thread should be moved to a more general topic? I think effective speech-making is a topic everyone needs to know how to do well, so while it does relate to social sciences, it might be more useful to be put out there where more people will see it?
  • #13
Thank you Moonbear for the speech tactics. And I could move this, but I don't think general discussion would be such a better place.

First thing I want to ask you: do you know exactly what can make a microphone start singing? I once gave a presentation at a scientific retreat and all of a sudden the microphone started making this really high pitch noise and I didn't have a clue what to do besides stop talking :uhh:

Last friday I gave a talk on the current state of stem cell research, the reactions have been overwhelming, too bad that it's in these moments that you're able to surpass people's expectations.
  • #14
Having something worth saying helps significantly. While it is possible for some people to give a rousing speech about anything, I suggest you wait until you are more accomplished before professing the blueness of the sky.

Love your topic. If you don't, your audience wont.

Make your love - their love. I love my kids, but if I talk about my kids very long, other people get bored. Bill Cosby, on the otherhand, talks about his kids as all kids. When he talks about his kids, he is talking about the kids of every parent in the audience. He is talking about the kids that the parents used to be. They connect.

  • #15
Monique, that hideous screeching of the microphone is feedback...sometimes it's two microphones that get too close to each other, or a speaker that's aimed the wrong way so the microphone picks up what has just been projected out onto the speaker, and just amplifies it infinitely (or something like that). If there are multiple microphones in the room, making sure all but the one in use are turned off helps, as can turning down the volume on the one you're using, or sometimes just readjusting the position so it doesn't pick up any other sounds. And sometimes, I don't know what causes it, and it's just time to call the AV person into fix it or just turn off the mic and talk without it.

I did have an interesting experience at one conference. We had remote control mice to advance the slides on the computer (Powerpoint presentations), and had simultaneous sessions in two adjoining rooms. Someone must have messed with the mice and set them both to the same frequency, so everytime someone advanced a slide in one room, the slides in both rooms advanced! I didn't think they would transmit through a wall, but must have been thin walls!

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