The processes of making a speech

Methods of public speaking

In free countries, such as the United States and Canada, public speaking has a special significance because it is the chief means of conducting public business. Yound people need to learn how to examine issues of the day through discussion. Over 2,000 years ago Plato observed that the fate of wise men who refuse to take part in public affairs is that they shall be governed by fools. That observation is perhaps just as true as today.

Fortunately, young people nowadays have many opportunities to learn and use the skills involved in public speaking. Opportunities are present in schools, churches, civic clubs, and youth groups. In these organization young men and women can make and listen to speeches. If the use of these opportunities is combined with a serious attempt to achieve competence in the art of public speaking, the student can do much for himself.

Preparing a Speech

Having determined his purpose, a thoughful speaker then makes a plan for attacking his problem in a systematic way. The plan consists of two parts - an initial and final stage of preparation.

The initial stage is to choose and test a topic suitable for the audience, the occasion, and the purpose of the speech. The topic must also be tested with reference to the speaker's own abilities and experience and to the time and opportunity available for preparation. Often it must be tested against the background of the subject matter from which it came. By this means, having decided at least tentatively on a topic, the speaker proceeds with his reflective thinking about it.

As he continues his initial stage of preparing his speech, the speaker should accept available opportunities (or even create them) to discuss his topic with friends and acquaintances. This phase of preparation should be true discussion, not merely a statement of the speaker's own ideas. As the speaker proceeds in his preparation, he will seek to improve his knowledge of the subject through two kinds of reading: reading for background and reading for facts. The speaker will need to take notes and perhaps keep a card file. As the last step in the initial stage of preparation, he should arrange his ideas and lines of thought in some meaningful way.

The Final Stage of Preparation

In the final stage of preparation, especially in a speech of some length, the speaker should make an analytical outline. This should consis of a clear statement of the action to be taken or the proposal to be made, with reasons why the proposal is sound. A lawyer's brief on an appeal is an excellent example of the kind of analytical outline prepared by a professional speaker.

Having analyzed his subject and obtained the evidence necessary to support it, the speaker should think of ways to make his proposal attractive to his prospective audience. The adaptation of his speech material to the understanding of his listeners requires the speaker to be constantly alert to discover and use illustrations, anecdotes, analogies, relevant humor, and appropriate appeals. Many speakers employ visual aids - maps, graphs, slides, or other devices - to hold interest or to emphasize and demonstrate points in a speech.

Every speech should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning prepares the audience for the major disclosure. The middle of the speech sets forth the speaker's proposal and provides supporting evidence. The end is usually a summary or appeal.

During the final stage of preparation the precise language of the speech should be formulated. This may be done for the entire speech or for only the important portions of it.

Delivery of the Speech

Except in very short speeches, the speaker usually refers to his outline as he talks. The outline may consists of sheets of paper or of a series of cards. Such a delivery is called exptemporaneous (utterest on the spur of the moment). It must be clearly understood, however, that the term "extemporaneous" refers only to the actual words used. The speaker's ideas, organization of speech, and key phrases have all been carefully prepared.

Some speakers memorize their speeches completely. This is called the memoriter method. Many of the greatest speeches of the past were delivered memoriter. Because memorizing  a speech completely is difficult, this method is not often used. Partial memorization is not advised by most teachers.

Under some condition the speaker must write out his speech and read it from the manuscript. Anyone who is to read a speech should take special care to practice orally. Otherwise his delivery may seem pedantic or self-conscious.

Frequently at conventions, banquets, or meetings of various kinds, a person on stage or even a member of the audience is called upon for an impromptu (unprepared) speech. The speaker does not know, or perhaps does not even suspect, that the toastmaster will call upon him. Anyone who is at all likely to be chosen to give an impromptu spech needs to have in mind a kind of framework for such a talk. The impromptu speech should ordinarily be short.