Public Speaking

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 In day gone by it was considered a tribute if a scientist was called a “silent worker” because then research was associated with work limited to the field, the farm, the laboratory or his or her study.  The scientist worked in quietude without muct interaction with others.  Today the specialist cannot afford to work alone, because of the spectacular development in the electronic media, means of mass-communication, and globalization.  Today, the specialist does not only read, write, and work; he has to speak also and that too to heterogeneous audiences.

             Oral communication by a scientist – administrator may range from an informal talk to employees to a technical key-note address but in any case it must have a format.  Here are a few guidelines to assist scientists, especially senior administrator-scientists, who have to hold the mike more often than others.

Public speaking is the process of communicating information to an audience. It is usually done before a large audience, like in school, the workplace and even in our personal lives. The benefits of knowing how to communicate to an audience include sharpening critical thinking and verbal/non-verbal communication skills.

Public speaking (also called oratory or oration) is the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience. This type of speech is deliberately structured with three general purposes: to inform, to persuade and to entertain. Public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face-to-face speaking of a single person to a group of listeners

There are five basic elements of public speaking that are described in Lasswell’s model of communication: the communicator, message, medium, audience and effect. In short, the speaker should be answering the question “who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?”

Public speaking can serve the purpose of transmitting information, telling a story, motivating people to act or some combination of those. Public speaking can also take the form of a discourse community, in which the audience and speaker use discourse to achieve a common goal.

Public speaking for business and commercial events is often done by professionals. These speakers can be contracted independently, through representation by a speakers bureau, or by other means. Public speaking plays a large role in the professional world; in fact, it is believed that 70 percent of all jobs involve some form of public speaking.

The Importance of Public Speaking

Even if you don’t need to make regular presentations  in front of a group, there are plenty of situations where good public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create opportunities.

For example, you might have to talk about your organization at a conference, make a speech after accepting an award, or teach a class to new recruits. Speaking to an audience also includes online presentations or talks; for instance, when training a virtual team, or when speaking to a group of customers in an online meeting.

Good public speaking skills are important in other areas of your life, as well. You might be asked to make a speech at a friend’s wedding, give a eulogy for a loved one, or inspire a group of volunteers at a charity event.

In short, being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence , and open up countless opportunities.

However, while good skills can open doors, poor ones can close them. For example, your boss might decide against promoting you after sitting through a badly-delivered presentation. You might lose a valuable new contract by failing to connect with a prospect during a sales pitch. Or you could make a poor impression with your new team, because you trip over your words and don’t look people in the eye.


            Each type of speech demands a different orientation and different preparation, but prepare you must; never go to the stage off-hand, even if you are a master of the subject.  First prepare an outline of the speech, lecture, or talk in a logical way.  Make a proper sequence of your ideas.  Among those scientists, who speak impressively are the ones who not only prepare well, but even rehearse them properly before coming to the stage.  The speech should be mentally framed beforehand.

            If it is a seminar, a symposium or a technical lecture the preparation would extend beyond the subject matter and would include preparing the slides, their sequence charts, maps, graphs, their sequence, the probable questions and answers and other matters allied to the main subject, etc.  A good speech can be marred by poor physical arrangements regarding proper electric connections, mikes, leads, etc.  Check the leads, plugs, sockets, connecting-board pointers, tape recorders, projectors, screen etc.  before hand.  More often than not a learned lecture is ruined either because a switch was not working or a pointer was not available. The speech must have a beginning, middle and a conclusion.  One may begin with an anecdote, or quotation or sharing of some salient information related to the subject.

There should be no deviation from the main themes, no repetition, unless for emphasis.  Rehearse the speech to have a proper mental picture of the whole speech. Even when preparation has been made there is a tendency to deviate fro the main subject and loose track of the main theme.  To avoid this some good scientist-speakers first write down (or dictate) their talk/lecture in full, read it, and re-read it.  The lecture or talk is sub-divided into different heads.  One may even write them down on small cards or stiff half-sheets of paper, carefully tied together to prevent their getting mixed up in the courses of the talk.  Important passages and the peroration may be written out fully or in outline.  This will help in not getting astray from the main subject and in maintaining logical sequence.  

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