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Public speaking is the process of oral communication when speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners. The art and science of public speaking, especially in a North America is also known as forensics. The word 'forensic' is an adjective meaning "of public debate or argument." The word is derived from the Latin forensis, meaning "of the forum."
In public speaking, as in any form of communication, there are five basic elements, often expressed as "who is saying what to whom using what medium with what effects?"
The purpose of public speaking can range from simply transmitting information, to motivating people to act, to simply telling a story. Good orators should be able to change the emotions of their listeners, not just inform them. Public speaking can also be considered a discourse community. Interpersonal communication and public speaking have several components that embrace such things as motivational speaking, leadership/personal development, business, customer service, large group communication, and mass communication. Public speaking can be a powerful tool to use for purposes such as motivation, influence, persuasion, informing, translation, or simply entertaining.
The first known work on the subject was written over 2500 years ago, and the principles elaborated within it were drawn from the practices and experience of orators in ancient Greece. These basic principles have undergone modification as societies, and cultures have changed, yet remained surprisingly uniform. The history of public speaking has existed for centuries since civilization has been constructed and has had a major impact on society. The technology and the methods of this form of communication have traditionally been through oratory structure and rely on a large or sometimes somewhat small audience. However, new advancements in technology have allowed for more sophisticated communication to occur for speakers and public orators. The technological and media sources that assist the public speaking atmosphere include both videoconferencing and telecommunications. Videoconferencing is among one of the more recent technologies that is in a way revolutionizing the way that public speakers communicate to the masses. David M. Fetterman of Stanford University printed in his 1997 article Videoconferencing over the Internet: "Videoconferencing technology allows geographically disparate parties to hear and see each other usually through satellite or telephone communication systems". This technology is helpful for large conference meetings and face to face communication context, and is becoming more widespread across the world..
Effective public speaking can be developed by joining a club such Australian Rostrum, Toastmasters International, Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC), Speaking Circles or International Training in Communication (ITC) in which members are assigned exercises to improve their speaking skills. Members learn by observation and practice, and hone their skills by listening to constructive suggestions followed by new public speaking exercises. These include:
- The use of gestures
- Control of the voice (inflection)
- Vocabulary, register, word choice
- Speaking notes
- Using humor
- Developing a relationship with the audience
Using a forum such as Toastmasters to practice public speaking skills after receiving professional training is a time-tested approach to developing one's ability to speak well. It is difficult to really receive any formal training but, can still be taught and practiced by those seeking to improve their public communication skills. The organization is among one of the largest nationally recognized that specializes in the improvement and networking of effective communication skills throughout the world.
The new millennium has seen a notable increase in the number of training solutions offered in the form of video and on-line courses. Video can provide significant training potential by revealing to the student actual examples of behaviors to emulate in addition to verbal knowledge transfer. A search for "public speaking DVD" currently yields over 1,500,000 returns.
Effective leadership almost always requires the skill of good public speaking, and this can often make up for a lack of other skills. Leaders from Adolf Hitler to Martin Luther King, Jr. were effective orators who used oratory to have a significant impact on society. The speeches of politicians are often widely analysed by both theirs fans and detractors.
Glossophobia - Fear of public speaking
The common fear of public speaking is called glossophobia (or, informally, "stage fright"). As Jerry Seinfeld said: "The average person at a funeral would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy." Many careers require some ability in public speaking, for example presenting information to clients or colleagues.
Public speaking and oration are sometimes considered some of the most importantly valued skills that an individual can possess. This skill can be used for almost anything. Most great speakers have a natural ability to display the skills and effectiveness that can help to engage and move an audience for whatever purpose. Language and rhetoric use are among two of the most important aspects of public speaking and interpersonal communication. Having knowledge and understanding of the use and purpose of communication can help to make a more effective speaker communicate their message in an effectual way.
- Audience Response System
- Oral reading
- Speech anxiety
- Speech communication
- Thematic Interpretation
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