16 Attributes of Effective Speaking

Unlike writing, speaking is an integral part of our daily lives. When it comes to public speaking, it may be true that some people are gifted with a natural flair for speaking well, but we all have our own styles. Whilst we should always tailor a speech to the specific environment and audience, here are a few other points that you might want to consider to deliver an effective speech:

  1. Clarity. Clarity of expression comes from clarity of thought. Have you ever found your mind wandering during a speech? A cluttered mind can’t come up with clear ideas and certainly won’t express them effectively. So clear out any negative thoughts, tasks you need to complete later, phone calls you have to make, and focus on your message.
  2. Logical organisation. Changing from one point to another should be smooth and sensible. The sequence of ideas should be planned in advance so that your talk is has flow.
  3. Precision. Don’t make vague statements. If you are imprecise in your points, how can your audience appreciate them?
  4. Audience. Analyse your audience before planning the nature and style of your speech.
  5. Catch-phrases. If you can use some attractive phrases that would effectively draw out the attention of your audience to your subject matter, the speech will be far easier. Remember ‘Change – Yes We can’ from the 2008 US political campaign? Hardly inspiring but it stuck and achieved  huge results.
  6. Courtesy. Respect your audience whilst you speak. Show empathy where appropriate and never appear arrogant.
  7. Unwise generalisation. Don’t make generalisations in the hope of convincing your listeners. Generalisations such as ‘no sensible person will agree’ is negative and there might just be one in your audience!
  8. Sincerity. Your views should be from the heart. Be yourself.
  9. Goal. Keep your goal in mind. Don’t ramble about something that isn’t associated with your overall objective.
  10. Illustrations. Use examples and illustrations to ensure your audience understands your point.
  11. Dress. Dress for the occasion. Posture is also important. Don’t distract your audience from your speech by being in appropriately turned out.
  12. Style of delivery. Control your voice to suit the occasion. Your pitch and tone can be controlled and manipulated based on the environment. Use humour if it suits the occasion.
  13. Pronunciation. If, like me, you are a Yorkshireman, you might struggle with this! Accent and diction are important. Your audience might be distracted by your pronunciation and miss your point.
  14. Mannerisms. Identify and avoid both verbal and non-verbal mannerisms so they don’t distract your listeners.
  15. Feeling. Put feeling into your voice and make your speech expressive.
  16. Alertness. You can’t afford to be casual if you want your speech to be effective. There has to be a great amount of alertness in your approach, and in your mind to deliver an effective speech.
  17. ……..bonus time! Be in the moment. You can plan a speech for hours, but react to your audience and engage with them.

Have I missed anything? What would you add to the list?

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