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Public Speaking

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Not all of the principles of good public speaking will apply to consecutive interpreting but many do and there are hundreds of books and websites on how to speak well in public - just type "public speaking" into Google for example. Below is just one example taken from the Observer newspaper in the UK.



Neasa MacErlean
Sunday March 4, 2001
The Observer

1 Take a few simple steps to avoid the squeaky voice syndrome that is associated with inexperienced speakers. 'When you get rid of tension, your voice becomes more powerful,' says Maxina Pattison of London-based Corporate Voice Communications. Standing in the right way will encourage your body to relax.' Shrug your shoulders out,' she adds. 'Get your neck released, stand centred, avoid locking your knees and don't thrust your hips forward.'

2 Give some thought to your voice, and consider some training if you are going to do a lot of public speaking. Margaret Thatcher's voice got deeper - a sign of authority in a male-dominated world - when she became Prime Minister. Few people make it to the top if they speak in a high-pitched gabble. In a less male business world, deep voices are losing some of their cachet: a voice that can express emotion and range is, in reality, a bigger asset than a Barry White imitation.

3 Start getting practice in making the odd short speech. You are better off having your first attack of nerves asking a question in a departmental meeting than when you suddenly have to address a conference. Knowing how to say 'a few words' is a confidence booster for anyone. Many people who say they will never speak in public are, effectively, limiting their career to the bottom rung.

4 Make your speech sound spontaneous. Apart from the occasional star, most people need to plan carefully. You get extra brownie points if you speak without notes, but you then need a firm structure. Your performance can be raised several notches if you practise and almost know your script by heart.

5 Try to gear what you are saying to the audience. People nod off in pews when they do not relate to the sermon. At the other end of the spectrum, Bob Monkhouse is still a highly popular business speaker, not least because he learns the names of the executives in each company he address so he can weave them into his jokes.

6 Keep your speeches short and remember you have to entertain. Gordon Brown's Budget speech on Wednesday is not likely to produce belly laughs, but most other politicians (particularly William Hague, a first-rate speaker) will start, finish and embellish their addresses with jokes. You have to let your audience know that you are on their side. You help keep them awake by giving opportunities to laugh, applaud, raise their hands or boo their enemies.


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