Department of Communication

Chapter 1 Notes



Speaking in Public

1. The Power of Public Speaking

* Those who do it well are highly compensated for it.
* Companies want it in employees; the ability to communicate effectively is vital and communication skills ranked #1 for career development.
* It becomes a foundation for civil life as well as our working world; something we truly cannot escape.
* Gives you a sense of empowerment - a sense of confidence and ability to “make a difference” when you learn some of the basic skills.

2. The Tradition of Public Speaking

* Dates back to ancient times; Greeks and Romans
* Aristotle was key factor in influence and with his Rhetoric text
* Still influences communication today in the speech textbooks we use in classrooms.

3. Similarities between Speeches and Conversations
How they are similar:

* Both are logically organized
* Both are tailored/adapted to audience
* Both tell a story for maximum impact
* Both adapt to listener feedback

How they are different:

* Speeches are more highly structured
* Speeches require more careful use of language
* Each uses a different mode of delivery

4. Developing Confidence: Your Speech Class

Nervousness is normal; the anxiety you feel is a natural part of this kind of experience. Our bodies have a physiological reaction to public speaking. Our heart rates go up, our nonverbal behavior changes slightly, and we feel this affect on us. All that being said, this is normally something that can be managed quite easily.

Two types of anxiety - 1. situational and 2. trait. Situational anxiety is normal and we all feel this. Certain situations like job interviews, blind dates, meeting the in-laws, and public speaking often make us anxious. We all understand this kind of fear. Trait anxiety is a more personal, deep-seeded fear that requires more intervention to solve but fortunately is far less common than is situational anxiety.

Managing anxiety: (Situational)

Acquire more experience—the more you do anything (properly, that is) the less anxiety you feel doing it.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare - the less enjoyable but the best way to control situational anxiety.
2. Most anxiety is not visible. Studies estimate that audiences sense only about 10% of the anxiety that we feel. So no matter how badly you might feel, your audience is sensing only a small part of it.
3. Don’t expect perfection - none of us is perfect and we can always go back and find something in a speech we can improve. We prepare our best and then live with the effort we make. And the vast majority of the time the effort is acceptable.

Managing anxiety: (Trait)

1. The power of visualization - seeing yourself being successful; seeing yourself start, move through and complete an assignment. Used by sports psychologists to help athletes overcome certain “mental blocks”
2. Thinking positively - sometimes called cognitive restructuring and is a cousin of the visualization. Instead of seeing ourselves being successful, this works at changing our mindset and how we think. Not just thinking good thoughts, but being convinced we can succeed.

5. Public Speaking and Critical Thinking

There are may college classes that will or can teach you good critical thinking skills. This is one of them. A good public speaker learns to evaluate a message for logic and reasoning and is not swayed by emotional, irrational arguments.

6. The Speech Communication Process

* The Speaker - this is the first step in the process; the success of your message depends on your credibility or trustworthiness. Your ethos or credibility is vital. If an audience distrusts the messenger, the message will not be heard or evaluated. We will talk about what you should and should “not” do to ensure this first step is a positive one.
* The Message - what you have to say. The key is to find a way to make your intended message be what is actually communicated or received by the audience. It is not good enough to merely have good intentions. An effective communicator makes every effort to have the audience understand the message the way it was intended.
* The Channel - Messages can be delivered via many channels such as e-mail, telephone, letter, billboard, etc. But the only one relevant to public speaking is face-to-face. To communicate effectively using this channel we need certain skills not needed with other channels.
* The Listener - the audience. Every audience member brings his or her own frame of reference; or sum total of their life’s experiences. The more our audience shares a frame of reference similar to our own, the easier it is to effectively communicate with them. In all cases we must analyze our audience (Chapter 5) before we can fully organize, develop, and present our speech.
* Feedback - the message the audience gives the speaker; either verbal or nonverbal. We need feedback to determine if our message was received. Speakers notice audience feedback, so as an audience member we have a responsibility to respond with respect when listening to a message.
* Interference (Noise) - anything that interferes with the intended message. Noise can be external, internal, or semantic.
External - stimuli that affect our ability to pay attention to the speaker. Things like other voices, television sets, stereos, loud fans, etc. Easy to recognize and generally easy to control.
Internal - stimuli from ourselves; occurring in our mind…often referred to as “day dreaming.” Often hard to recognize and hard to control. Audience members have to concentrate on the speaker and the speaker must ensure the message is meaningful to the audience. There is a 50-50 or mutual responsibility for controlling or minimizing internal noise.
Semantic - similar to internal; but semantic refers to “word” noise or interference that causes us to stop paying attention. Calling someone a “boy” or “girl” when they are a man or a woman, might create this type of noise. It is very personal and very subjective.
* The Situation - this refers to the setting, the environment, the time, the surrounding elements that can impact any message. Easy to overlook this element in the process and then not realize why the message was not as successful as you might have anticipated.

7. Public Speaking in a Multicultural World

* In today’s world - school and work - we are likely to be interacting with people from a variety of cultures. You can believe and feel whatever you wish, but when words come out of your mouth or flow from your word processors, you are responsible for them. So it is best to think first and speak later.
* Be conscious of ethnocentrism. Extreme levels can present some real problems for communicators; they indicate our belief that our culture is superior to others and we show it. Communication works best if we show pride in our own culture while also acknowledging that others - while maybe not to your liking - have a right to exist as well. We can all agree that if we perceive that we, or our culture, are under attack, we will defend ourselves. And in the process stop listening to the speaker. So in essence, moderate levels of ethnocentrism can be healthy. High levels will promote defensive reactions from the audience. Low or no levels of it will not produce a defensive response but will cause any culture to eventually die out over a long period of time.