According to Lewis (1975), Communication means sharing messages, ideas, or attitudes that produce a degree of understanding between a sender and a receiver. Communication cannot take place until the receiver correctly receives and interprets the information and then respond. Oral communication implies communication through the mouth and includes individuals interacting using spoken words. Speeches, oral presentations and discussions are all forms of oral communications. Being a good oral communicator can enable you to inform, motivate, entertain or even persuade others to accept your points of view.
There are many basic principles of being a good oral communicator. For the purpose of this paper I will briefly discuss eight (8) of these principles. Maintaining good eye contact with your audience, knowing your topic and purpose, showing emotion of passions and interest during your speech, presenting a rounded picture and speaking clearly and pleasantly in a conversational manner all contribute to a person being an effective oral communicator. Being prepared is of most importance when giving a speech. Know your subject. Thoroughly research your topic and prepare for possible questions. The written speech should never be memorized.
You will look stiff, sound uninteresting and bore your audience. Memorizing is a fatal mistake. It turns the speech into a mere recitation; and reciting is not nearly as effective as speaking direct to the audience. A speaker must be free to alter, omit, or add as he sees what his audience requires. If possible, make up index cards with notes or key phases to refer during your speech. It is very important to connect with your audience. Speak to your audience, listen to their questions, respond to their reactions, adjust and adopt. One mistake speakers often make is trying to prove they’re smart.
When you stand in front of an audience, there is already a gap — you’re the expert, they’re not. By trying to impress your audience with your intellect, you create more distance and could come across as arrogant. Your job is to close the gap, not widen it. Add humour whenever appropriate and possible. Keep audience interested throughout you entire presentation. A public speaker should always anticipate objections. There will be members of the audience whose sole purpose is object to whatever is being presented. There will also be persons in the audience who might be knowledgeable about the topic you are presenting on.
Be open to questions and let it be known that you ‘don’t know it all. ’ By being self-effacing, humorous and real, you become approachable and it’s easier to win over your audience. In turn, the more connected the audience feels to you, the more they’ll pay attention to what you have to say. Use words that are within your audience’s vocabulary or calibre. Do not try to impress them by using “big words” as they will not understand what is being said and will lose interest in your presentation. Maintaining sincere eye contact with your audience is a very essential part of giving a speech.
It helps create a sense of two-way communication and shows that you are interested in interacting with your listeners. When you are looking at your audience, you should not stare and should try to scan the group, not looking too long at any one person or section of the room. You should try to vary the focus of your eye communication, trying to involve everyone in the group or each section of the room. In public speaking the management of the voice is very important. Some speakers speak too low and cannot be heard well in a large hall. Some shout, and their voices are drowned by the echoes.
Some talk so fast that they cannot be followed; and some speak so slowly as to tire their hearers’ patience. The speaker should speak clearly, for all to hear; he should vary the intonation of his voice to avoid monotony and to enforce his meaning; and he should know when to make effective pauses. Also you should add inflection and emphasis to be effective in making your points. Communicate a little at a time. Simplify your messages. You are where you are because of the depth and breadth of your expertise. Your natural inclination will be to impart lots of that knowledge onto your audience. Resist it!
Otherwise, you’ll bore and overwhelm your listeners with details they’ll never retain. Focus on conveying a few powerful ideas that they’ll remember. It is also beneficial for a presenter to present information in several ways. Use audio-visual aids or props for enhancement if appropriate and necessary. Master the use of the presentation software before your presentation. A presenter should speak with conviction as he really believes in what he is saying. Let your passion show.
There is no substitute for authentic passion at the podium. When you believe in your message and have energy around your topic, it will ranslate to your audience. Above all else, be yourself up there! In concluding, a good oral communicator should aim to master the basic principles of public speaking. A speaker should know the needs of his audience and match his contents to their needs. Look pleasant, enthusiastic, confident, proud, but not arrogant. Maintain eye contact. Show appropriate emotion and feeling relating to the topic. Know his material thoroughly. Ensure that his speech will be captivating to his audience as well as worth their time and attention. The result will be a sharper central idea and a tighter, more coherent speech.