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How to Become a Dynamic Public Speaker

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Social Issues

Let us begin with an incident from one of Shakespeares plays.

Julius Caesar has been murdered. Brutus, one of the conspirators, is out in the street. He addresses the people and explains to them why Caesar had to be killed: because he was a tyrant. The people hail Brutus. Antony, a most trusted follower of Caesar, has also been allowed to speak to the public. He begins in a somewhat hostile atmosphere by saying that he has not come to praise Caesar. He then goes on. When he has finished, we find the people just cannot wait to burn down the house of Brutus and kill the conspirators! In his speech, Antony hadnt said a word against Brutus.

How in the world could Antony achieve this? (Oh no! dont say, This was just a play! It has a little history on its side! But surely, we are not going to face any such situation!)

He was dynamic.

He believed in what he was saying. He succeeded in communicating with and motivating the people. And he had used a very important prop Caesars corpse. (Dont worry, we dont have to use such gory things!)

This is definitely what might be considered an extreme example of dynamic public speaking, and that too in a war-like situation, making it all the more critical.

But what about dynamic public speaking in our corporate world nestled in its comparatively safe and sanitised atmosphere? How can you succeed in becoming a dynamic public speaker?

Its how you present yourself on the stage. Dynamism consists of your voice, your movements, the use of props, and your ability to engage the audience, to involve them actively.

You need not have a great voice. The main thing is how well you articulate your thoughts. Some practice is definitely needed. You have to write down what you want to say and memorize at least the beginning so that you never fumble at the start. It wouldnt look smart to carry the sheaf of papers with you. Instead, use index cards. They are much less conspicuous.

Modulation of your voice is an important aspect. We all modulate our voices in our daily lives. Its just that we are not conscious about it. Learn to use it consciously, deliberately.

You have to move a bit on the stage and not stand there delivering your speech like some automated toy. When you are using props, you move. Theres also no harm if you move around a bit along the stage. This way you will establish contact with a part of the audience that was not in front of you when you were standing still and delivering your speech. You can be the best judge and understand when to move and how frequently or how much to move or, for that matter, whether to move at all.

Use your hands. Dont keep them hanging stiffly by your sides. Use them to emphasize a point. Keeping your arms open would convey your openness and your sincerity.

Props come in very handy during a presentation. They are very effective because they convey a message visually. An overhead is a prop. So are pointers, flip charts and anything that you use to get your message across to the audience.

Making eye contacts with the audience is an effective tool in sustaining their interest. You can also call someone from the audience to help you with a prop or something. And never forget to request the audience to give your helper the round of applause due to him or her. Relevant personal anecdotes and jokes go very well. These make the audience come closer to you, to believe in you.

And before you begin your speech remember that it is not a speech you are going to deliver. You are going to have a conversation with the people sitting in front of you.

Most importantly, learn how to turn any situation to your advantage be it an awkward question or your own nervousness.

That was how Antony turned the tide of events. Remember?