Most people don’t give much thought to talking; talking is an integral part of daily life and seldom attracts attention. What about speaking? Is there a difference between the two?
Here’s what the dictionary has to say:
Talking noun the action of talking; speech or discussion
Speaking noun the action of conveying information or expressing one’s feelings in speech
Clearly, there is more to speaking than merely talking. Talking is unremarkable and commonplace whereas speaking is articulate and purposeful. Because everybody can talk, people make the assumption that everybody can speak. This is not so. Talking is a social function; speaking for business is an altogether different kettle of fish.
The easiest way to stop talking and start speaking is to be prepared.
Hoping that everything will be all right on the night is not a recommended performance plan. While it is true that some people fly by the seat of their pants and get away with it. It's a short-term and high-risk strategy. Engaging your audience, for the most part, requires intricate performance planning.
You should know exactly what you need to say and, roughly, when you will say it. All too often it is assumed that an engaging public speaker has a ‘natural gift’ and while this may be true, achieving the full potential of your own ability is a skill acquired through practice.
So, what should you practice? How can preparation help you become a speaker rather than a talker? Here are the 2 key areas to work on:
1. Content Some of the most boring speakers around are unquestionably subject matter experts. Some university lecturers make a good example. You should practice what you will say, write a script, have a plan. Find a way to make the content interesting for your audience. Frame the subject so it is undeniably important to your audience. Remember the definition of speaking? Convey information and express your feelings.
2. Delivery If the first time you deliver your material aloud is before your audience, the chances are that it won’t be very polished.
As with almost any field of endeavour, apparently natural performers make everything look so easy. The keyword in here is ‘apparently’. Seemingly natural performers spend time with their script, making sure that their delivery is well rehearsed.
Creating an engaging presentation is not as difficult as it may seem. People who are not natural performers can appear to be so by following a regime of good practice and rehearsal.
Working on content and delivery will help you to stop ‘talking through your slides’ and encourage you instead to deliver an articulate, purposeful performance. That is speaking.
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