Public speaking is a very old activity, far predating the written word. Aristotle wrote about public speaking as part of his philosophy and was used as a powerful form of rhetoric to influence people. Public speaking has been studied for many years from many perspectives, but there are common elements that have been found to be true in all cases.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the seven elements of public speaking. It’s important to note that these aren’t just things to be aware of for a speech or presentation, but also apply to conversations and even arguments.
1. The speaker
In most cases, the speaker is the person doing the talking during a speech or conversation. In some cases, such as a debate or competition, there may be more than one speaker. The first element of public speaking is the speaker: this person gets all of the attention and focus.
2. The message
The message is what is being said by the speaker. It could be a story, an argument, a list of facts, anything that requires words to say it. This doesn’t just include the words being spoken, but also any gestures used by the speaker.
3. The audience
The audience or receiver is the person that the message is being sent to. This can be a single person or a large group of people. The way in which they receive the message is important, so listening skills are very important when communicating with others.
4. The channel
Channels are different ways in which information flows from one person to another. Most often this refers to verbal communication channels such as voice inflection, tone of voice, etc., but it can also include body language and other forms of nonverbal communication.
Feedback is some type of acknowledgment that shows that the message has been properly received by the audience member(s). It can take many forms depending on what is being communicated. Sometimes it’s as simple as a nod, but often applause is used to indicate that the message has been received and understood by those listening.
Interference or noise is anything else going on within the environment of the speaker and receiver(s) that may be taking their attention away from what they are trying to communicate. This might include other people talking loudly nearby, outside noises such as planes flying overhead, etc. Often it can be fixed by moving someplace quieter or more private.
7. The situation
The place or situation refers to where a speech takes place and how many people are present for it. Like interference, this element can affect a speech in various ways so it should be taken into consideration ahead of time whenever possible.
In order for a person to give an effective speech, they need to be aware of all of the elements that go into public speaking. They must have a good message, be able to use their communication channels effectively, receive any feedback from those listening, not let outside noise interfere with their communication, and find a way to overcome any problems with interference or place/situation.
Public speaking is an art form that can have multiple forms of communication coming together for a huge impact on others. It’s no wonder it has been studied so heavily over the years!
how to improve public speaking skills
To speak effectively in front of an audience, one must remember the basics of public speaking. I’ve broken down some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your experience.
Addressing an Audience – Generally, it is best to stand at ease at a relaxed posture during speeches and talks. Keep your hands at your sides rather than behind your back or in front of you.
If you want to emphasize something that you say, then put one hand behind your back while keeping the other arm free for gesturing. Gestures should also be used sparingly and in moderation; too many gestures can be distracting and not all of them will be interpreted positively.
Delivering a Speech – When you speak, keep your voice clear and distinct so that it is heard by everyone in the audience. Avoid mumbling or talking too quickly because this could cause listeners to miss part of what you say.
If your speech contains technical vocabulary, then you should consider writing out the definition of any terms that might not be familiar to your audience before speaking. You can even write additional information on index cards, which makes it easy for viewers to follow along and ensures they stay interested!
Be sure to pace yourself when giving a long presentation; if necessary, take breaks between sections so that your audience doesn’t grow tired. Serious expressions are generally appropriate during presentations, but they can become inappropriate if you look too stern or serious for too long.
Laughter is also an important component of public speaking; make sure to laugh loudly and with enthusiasm unless the audience expects otherwise (such as at a funeral).
Evaluating your Performance – One of the best ways to improve your public speaking skills is by practicing in front of a mirror before giving your speech. A mirror makes it easy to see whether you’re standing correctly, providing proper gestures, holding eye contact with the audience, etc.
Find other opportunities to speak in front of people throughout your day; even impromptu situations where you have to say something on your mind are great opportunities for practice! And if that isn’t working for you, find a speech class near you!