Public speaking is the process of passing your knowledge to the listeners, usually a large audience. A public speech should be able to educate, entertain and encourage the audience, which determines the ability of the orator’s public communication skill. According to Lasswell’s model of communications, public speaking is defined by five elements, namely, the communicator or orator, the message or information, the medium of conveying, the audience and the impact or effect.
Traveling through the history
The first documented evidence of public speaking comes from Greece, written about 2000 years ago on the principles of Greek orators. The development and popularity of oration during the middle age period and Renaissance owe to Aristotle, one of the first teachers in history. Rhetorics was a common way of public speaking during those times in Greece and Rome, where reasoning and social tools were used by the citizens in their daily life without the help of any professionals. Aristotle and Plato taught the art of public speaking in their respective schools, The Lyceum and The Academy. Subsequent development included the introduction of grammar, speech preparation, the addition of humor and emotional inspiration. During those ages, the oration was a popular form of entertainment and Latin style was mostly used. After World War 2, the Latin style made way to ‘plain’ style.
The entry of public speaking tools
A simple raised platform has changed to podiums and stages as venues of public speech. Speeches are seldom written on paper now. They are projected on a screen with screen pens to highlight the running points. Satellite communication has enabled video conferencing and teleconferencing which deliver the speeches to a wider audience without the need to be physically present at the venue. This has become an important mode of functioning for business enterprises and corporate. Public address systems like microphones and loudspeakers have changed their form and the form of oration. They have become more compact, attractive and powerful with the capability to support a crowd of any size.
The audience is no longer witnessing a simple human oration, they are in turn entertained and educated into a virtual world of technology using visual aids such as the Google Cardboard. Such platforms increase the attention and interest of the audience in the topic being orated. A very simple example is the use of laser technology along with music and dance to explain the history of an ancient monument to the tourists gathered around. Public speeches have become more and more interactive with the audience response system which records the live response or participation of the audience along with the speech such as voting and polling. Satellites and telephones enable remote viewers also to interact live. Cloud technology has also entered the scene which enables the audience’s response to be analyzed, sorted and displayed while the speech is proceeding. The audience entries are fed and stored in a database from which information can be retrieved as and when desired. Many live competitions and political discussions widely use this technology and the information collected can be easily reproduced for conducting surveys.
Public speeches given in educational events utilize student response system consisting of ‘clickers’. These tools have reportedly helped in better knowledge retention and attention among the recipient communities. Academicians educate their students through smart classrooms and satellite communication. Learning management systems assess the performance of students based on the data given by the response systems. Political and religious public speeches are now increasingly using the psychological techniques of crowd manipulation to utilize the audience’s motion towards selective persuasion to any particular action. Motivational speaking is a very sought after career option now.
Diverse objectives of public speeches
The purpose of public speaking has now become broader. They are no longer done for entertainment or information transmission alone. They have become powerful enough to influence the legislatures; the audience for a speech may be worldwide who can send their responses easily in real-time. There are expert speakers in every field and an organization called the speaker’s bureau usually represents them.
The talent of good communication and the ability to transmit information to the public has transformed into an independent career and also the most integral part of other professions. So along with excelling in your subject, develop your interpersonal and public speaking skills to travel the long road of competitive life.