Bringing the ’Cool’ to Communication


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We all know the importance of public speaking and communication skills. Many of us even know the basics of speaking well.

That’s the easy part. The tough part?

How do you get kids to do it?

More importantly, how do you get kids to WANT to do it?

This is my answer. The Speak Up course has run within schools and privately for the past four years. This is an excerpt from the accompanying booklet. Will

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Bringing the ’Cool’ to Communication

  1. 1. Will Kingston The Five Secrets to a Great Speech1. Be original What your teacher probably won’t tell you in class:Teachers get bored easily! In fact, so will your bosses, your lecturers andeven your girlfriends (or so I have heard…) The key to getting good marks isto make an impression! Guys are sometimes too afraid to stand out…. Don’tbe – the speech that the teacher remembers will (generally) be the one thattops the class. How do I do it?OK this is where it gets a bit tricky. Here are three ways to make yourspeech unique: i) Introductions and conclusions must be interesting (throw in a quote or a story). ii) If you are given a topic to speak or write about, feel free to argue against it. Whoever said the pen was mightier than the sword!!!! iii) Be yourself! There is a temptation to change how you speak and how you think when you stand up in front of people. Remember that a speech is really just a conversation with an audience; if you are funny, be funny; if you are passionate, be passionate; if you are boring… Well maybe change a bit in that case. Give it a go…Get into pairs. Give each other the most boring, mind-numbing, sleep-inducing topic you can think of… Now your job is to speak about it for aminute and MAKE it interesting!A few of my personal favourites:* The life cycle of the South American Dung Beetle* Anything to do with the economy* Croquet* Retirement villagesHINT: It doesn’t have to be exactly on the topic. Think about ways ofgetting things you know about into the speech. Speak Up! 1
  2. 2. Will Kingston2. Have a clear message What your teacher probably won’t tell you in class:In any assignment you get (whether it is a speech or an essay) you can writealmost anything you want! As long as you find a link to the question, you canincorporate anything you want to talk about (within reason). The key is thatwhatever you say must have a clear theme or message. This ensures thatyour speech has a purpose that the audience will remember. How do I do it?Basically you just have to keep thinking about how what you’re sayingrelates back to the question or topic. You can do this by using a ‘tagline’that summarises your argument. Alternatively, you can have a metaphorrunning through your speech that you come back to. EFSFOGIH*In 1941, Winston Churchill visited Harrow, his old High School. The mythgoes that when asked to deliver a speech, he walked very slowly to thelectern and stared at the young men for what seemed like an eternity. Hethen delivered his speech:"Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give in. Never give in. Never give in. Never give in.”That was it! He sat down to thunderous applause from the boys, who wereno doubt expecting a much longer assembly. I can promise you that none ofthe students in that hall would have forgotten what Churchill said that day.That is what makes it a great speech. Winston wasn’t happy when one student started talking during his address….*(Example from some Famous Old Guy in History) Speak Up! 2
  3. 3. Will Kingston3. ‘Tell them what you’re gonna say, say it, tell themwhat you’ve said….’My Dad told me this one day and at the time I think I replied, “Shut up DadI’m on Facebook.”After some time to think about it, he may have actually been ontosomething! Structure is one of the most important, yet also the mostoverlooked ingredient to a great speech. We will return to this one a bitlater. I thought Dad’s response was a bit over the top… Give it a go…What does structure mean? Write down what you think. Speak Up! 3
  4. 4. Will Kingston4. Make it sound good (even if it isn’t!) What your teacher probably won’t tell you in class:If a speech is delivered poorly it can cost you countless marks, no matterhow intelligent your arguments are. Of course I’m not saying you shouldignore the quality of your speech, rather you should always remember that abit of confidence goes a long way! After all, a speech involves a bit ofacting! Try not to go too over the top… Give it a go...I will give each of us a personality that we have to take on. Your job is toact completely like that person, using their type of language, look andpersona. Have some fun with it!5. Know thy audience!Your teachers have probably been given enough attention so instead I willquote my Year 8 English teacher. Whilst I can’t quite remember what myfriends and I said at the time, I think the words ‘lame’ and ‘weirdo’ wereboth mentioned. Hopefully I don’t look quite as bad as she did when I giveyou the same advice! You should always be thinking about who you arespeaking to when writing and delivering your speech. Speak Up! 4
  5. 5. Will Kingston “Our Greatest Fear”Some studies have placed public speaking above deathas our greatest fear… These people really need to getout more! There is no reason to be worried when youspeak in front of an audience. In saying that, somenerves before you speak are natural (I still get them!)Here are some tips on how to control them. DO DON’TPractise your speech Get worried if you make abeforehand mistakeMake a joke or two Speed up during your speechDrink water Lose eye contact‘Converse’ rather than ‘Over-think’‘speak’What do you do to calm yourself down before a big rugby or soccergame? Write down some ideas. Speak Up! 5
  6. 6. Will Kingston The Science of Sounding Good!What your teacher probably WILL tell you in class:Most of us are told that substance will always trump style. By that I meanwe are told to believe that what we say is ultimately what is important; howwe deliver it is an afterthought…. Don’t believe them! How you deliver aspeech will play a huge role in influencing what a teacher (or an audience)will think of your content.So guys, today our job is to start sounding good! A bit of spin isn’t such a bad thing… PS Watch this movie!1. Getting into the flow of things…Fluency in a speech is like throwing into a lineout – if everything is goingwell no one notices but if it’s a bit off everyone will pick up on it.(OK the rugby analogies might be getting a bit shaky!)In any case, it’s important that your speech flows well. Here are a fewthings to consider:i) The ‘pregnant pause’ - When you get up to speak, don’t start speaking for a few seconds. Instead, take a breath, relax and build up the suspense! - After every point, stop and take a breath. - Remember a pause emphasises important points in a speech – use them wisely!ii) Ummm could you like ahhh stop that? - Ummm’s and ahhh’s are annoying to listen to and can make a speech sound messy and disjointed - Don’t be afraid of silence – it is better than an ummm! - Speak in front of your parents – let them tell you whenever you say those two dreaded words! Speak Up! 6
  7. 7. Will Kingston iii) Verbal crutches - These are little phrases we come back whilst we speak (some of mine include ‘at the end of the day’, ‘ladies and gentlemen’ and ‘I think’). - These can also become repetitive and stop your speech from flowing. Give it a go…Get up and start speaking about anything you want! Keep going until you sayan ummm or an ahhhh. I will time you…What time did you His record is 14get? seconds – can you beat it?2. Tone - Monotone is as close as you can come to public speaking suicide! Don’t be afraid to mix it up. - Tone should be a reflection of emotion – if it is an emotive point don’t be afraid to get passionate, if it is funny lighten it up and so on. - Cards aren’t just for what you are saying. Use a different colour pen to write down how you should deliver a certain line. Let’s use another EFSFOGIH*Passionate/dignified “I have a dream that my four children will one day livein a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but bythe content of their character. Slow down! I have a dream today. Pause!Accentuate first line I have a dream that one day every valley shall beexalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will bemade plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory ofthe Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Speak Up! 7
  8. 8. Will Kingston3. Gestures - Body language accounts for about 60% of our communication - Don’t use the same gesture over and over! - New gestures feel strange – you have to practise them (preferably in front of a mirror). - Don’t use gestures for the sake of it – rather they should assist you in emphasising a point or the flow of your speech. - A smile is a very powerful tool – it shows you are comfortable, charming and confident. Give it a go…In pairs develop three hand gestures that you could use for three differentparts of a speech. Some parts of a speech you may want to focus on are: • An emotive point • A list or sequence • The end of a point • A humorous moment Maybe give this one a miss…4. Eye contact - There are two ways to have truly effective eye contact: i) Learn your speech word for word – boring, repetitive and hey you have a life after all… ii) Write in point form! - Writing in point form is tricky at first so there is nothing wrong with having a mix of points and sentences - A good way of doing it is putting lines you think are especially important (for example, the first line, conclusion, jokes, facts) in full and other sections in point form. - Don’t just focus on one spot or person in the room – try and feel as if you are speaking to everyone individually. Speak Up! 8
  9. 9. Will Kingston Give it a go…OK guys the time has come to start speaking! Pick any topic you want andpresent a 1 minute speech to the guys using only 4 bullet points. Use thearea below. • • • • Well at least he’s trying…5. SLOW DOWN! - OK this one is simple – however fast you speak at the moment, make it slower. - I guarantee that all of you speak faster that you think you do. - Speaking fast makes it harder to understand what you are saying and lessens the impact of your points. - Get your parents or friends to listen to you (or better yet record yourself and listen to it). Give it a go…Ok let’s have a listen to the speeches you did earlier. Are you surprised byhow fast you were speaking? What things did you pick up about your mannerthat you did not previously know? Write down some thoughts. Speak Up! 9
  10. 10. Will Kingston How to use a PowerPoint1. It’s just a prompt, stupid! SO Give it a go…2. Don’t read out what is on the slides! Do my job for me! Get up and3. Don’t overload the presentation present one of the slides on the PowerPoint.4. Never use two words when one will do PS. This is not an excuse for me to go off and bludge….5. Get with the times – images and videos are gold! Now be quiet whilst I go get my coffee.4. Mix things up5. Make it easy to read6. Don’t get too caught up in the cool effects7. Put the really big points on the screen by themselves Speak Up! 10
  11. 11. Will KingstonSpeak Up! 11