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Speaking as not only a tool but a skill

MMAOTHO SEGOTSO
“Language is primarily speech.

A very large number of languages in the world are only spoken with no writing script. Majority of languages even with writing scripts use their spoken forms more than the written ones. It is an agreed fact that language is learnt by speaking it first after a lot of listening to the sounds, words, phrases and sentences from the surroundings.” Anuradha, Raman & Hemamalini.

The language skill of speaking is classified as an oral productive skill. It has also been paired with listening and both are referred to as primary skills. Since, a child first absorbs language via listening, produces it through speaking, before moving to literacy (reading and writing).

Speaking, also known as the act of communicating vocally, is the production of words and sounds, to publicise information, feelings and opinions. It allows one to form connections, influence decisions, and motivate change. Chastain 1988 writes, “Speaking is using background and linguistic knowledge to create an oral message that will be meaningful to an audience.”Components of speaking: pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

Public Speaking is when an individual addresses a large group of people. It is highly structured with time limitations; listeners’ ability to interrupt with questions or commentaries; clear speech purpose; and anticipated questions (Lucas, 2009). One important shape of such type is election campaigns, sermons and public speeches.

The fear for public speaking is called glossophobia. Due to the failure of the education system to provide an outlet for children or adults to master this skill, most people are left feeling worried, unconfident and downright afraid to stand up in front of a room and speak. This debilitating phobia causes many people to score terribly in pitches and job interviews.

The speech communication process seven elements- speaker, message, channel, audience, feedback, interference and situation.

Speaker: Speech communication begins with a speaker. Your success as a speaker depends on you: on your personal credibility; your knowledge of the subject; your preparation of the speech; your manner of speaking; your sensitivity to the audience and the occasion.

Message: The message is whatever a speaker communicates to someone else. Your goal in public speaking is to have your intended message be the message that is actually communicated. You must narrow your topic down to something you can discuss. Must do research and choose supporting details to make your ideas clear and convincing. Tone of voice, appearance, gestures, facial expression, and eye contact form part of the speech.

Channel: Means of communication. When you pick up the phone to call a friend, the telephone is the channel. The channel used affects how the audience receives the message.

Listener: Recipients of the communicated message. If you talk to a friend on the phone, you have one listener. But in public speaking, you have many listeners. To be an effective public speaker, we must be audience-centered and conscious. Listeners give feedback through utterances and gestures like nodding. Even falling asleep is feedback!

Interference:  Anything external or internal that impedes the communication of a message.

Situation: Time and place: Conversation and discourse always take place in a certain situation. Words spoken must suit place and situation.

Cultural diversity makes speech making more complex as one has to be cognisant of issues of culture and language. By all means, speakers must avoid ethnocentrism and cultural stereotyping, bearing in mind that all people have special beliefs and customs that must be respected. Be alert to how cultural factors and schema might affect how listeners respond.

Mastering public speaking requires first differentiating between four of the

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primary types of public speaking: ceremonial, demonstrative, informative and persuasive.For ceremonial, most people will give some sort of speech during their lifetime.

These speeches mark special occasions. They are common at weddings, graduations and funerals as well as large birthday celebrations and office holiday parties. Ceremonial speaking typically involves a toast and is personal with an intimate emotional connection to people hearing it. To give a ceremonial speech you must be close to the person, event and or setting.

For demonstrative, science demonstrations and role-playing are types of demonstrative speaking. This type of public speaking requires being able to speak clearly and concisely to describe actions and to perform those actions while speaking. A demonstrative speaker may explain the process behind generating power while cycling. The idea behind demonstrative speaking is that the audience leaves with knowledge about how to do something.

With informative speaking, the speaker is trying simply to explain a concept to an audience. College and varsity lecture courses involve informative speaking, as do industry conferences and public officials sharing vital information. In this type of speaking, the information is what is important.

The speaker is not trying to get others to agree with him or to show them how to do something for themselves. Rather he is disseminating vital information.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19), there has been a lot of such. Persuasive speaking tends to be the glitziest. Politicians, lawyers, motivational speakers and the clergy use persuasive speaking. This type of speaking requires practicing voice inflections and nuances of language that will convince the audience members of a certain viewpoint.

The persuasive speaker has a stake in the outcome of the speech. Politicians, for instance, may want votes or a groundswell of support for a pet project, while lawyers are trying to convince a jury of their position – and the clergy would be trying to win others over to their faith. Persuasive speakers use emotional appeals and strong language in speeches.

Dynamic, effective, confident speaker: Urban (2007)

Listens to themself critically. They can instantly recognise their mistakes, correct them immediately and goes on.

Has the ability to control the strength and clarity of their voice via proper breathing.

Avoids making vocal mistakes; speaks in normal speed, not very quickly nor very loudly, not to whine nor to use nasals, not to hesitate nor to fade out at the end of the sentences. Such vocal mistakes are considered as barriers to the listener’s comprehending the message.

Speaks clearly; to enunciate the words completely, opening their mouth enough to articulate every syllable of every word. Clearly, completes their word flow and separates their thoughts.

Uses dynamics; varies pitch, volume, pace and speed of speech. Also adds different pauses in different places to allow thoughts and concepts to be shaped, and comprehended by the audience.

Has powerful vocabulary; not over people’s heads, nor force phony. He has the ability to incorporate words into their speech that denote intelligence and an active mind, avoids using clichés and overused words.

Controls their body language. Knows exactly which posture to create, maximise the voice tonal quality, is careful to make eye contact with the audience, smiles, shows warmth and sincerity and doesn’t use the hands too much.

Their points, relates to audience, keeps the presentation clear and interesting and involves his audience.

“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.”  Alexander Gregg



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