You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.
– John Ford.
Elocution is a fancy word for public speaking. Whether we’re communicating to our family, friends, business associates or at a public event, we are speaking to the public! The same process happens internally whether we are speaking to one person or to a hundred. The head and the heart, the intellect and the feeling must work together if our message is going to be heard. It’s quite simple: starting from the true feelings, the message goes to the intellect which communicates out to the world. This is something we do every day. The main thing is to share your true feelings using your intellect as the communicator for those feelings.
So what are the elements that make a good public speaker especially when addressing a group?
- At the beginning be sure to introduce yourself and share a little bit about yourself to put people at ease.
- Make sure your message has clarity and definition and is as concise as possible, without being incomplete.
- Deliver it in an interesting way, using stories, examples, quotes and visual aids to maintain the audience’s attention. Remember that a picture says a thousand words.
- Consider the expectations, interest and nature of the audience.
- Speak slowly – not too slow and not too fast – and in a tone that everyone can hear. It helps to ask if the people at the back of the room can hear you, in order to find out if you are speaking loudly enough.
- Deliver the speech with balanced enthusiasm – but don’t go overboard!
- Use appropriate body language expressing confidence and maintaining eye contact.
- If it feels natural, use hand gestures sparingly, paired with action words.
If you sense tension or stress in the audience, start out with a light touch. Be aware that there are four ways by which people receive communications – through an overview, through pictures, through ideas and words and through feelings. By sharing in a way that uses all four of these means of communication there’s potential for increased success in getting your message across.
- When preparing to communicate with a group of people here are a few more suggestions:
- Before speaking to a group you can always practice with your friends, family or business associates, and ask for feedback.
- Take some deep breaths. Feeling relaxed is important!
- When delivering the message be sure to enunciate and pronounce the words clearly and distinctly. Sometimes pausing at certain sections allows people to absorb the message before you move to the next part.
- You can tell people at the beginning to hold their questions until the end, as some of their questions may end up being answered.
Remember that from the moment you said your first words, you’ve been practising the art of good elocution. So enjoy the opportunity, share a genuine smile, and your audience will enjoy the experience too!