Spending a Sunday morning at the Speakers’ Corner of Hyde Park (map, wikipedia) is a very rewarding experience for public speaking enthusiastic of all levels. Here, people speaks about the topics they care about and try to put across their ideas to the passerby. They talk about amost everything: Religion, Politics, Economy, etc. you name it. What makes them really stands out is that they are able to seize a large crowd to listen to them, making them to stay for a very long time and getting people so interested that they argue with them. Set aside what they spoke about and if it is even right or wrong, they demonstrated superb public speaking skills that are unprecedented in our everyday life. Think about the situation when we do public speaking- it is usually fixed ahead of time, duration and audience. At the Speakers’ Corner, people come and go as they will, speaker only become one when they are able to attract a crowd to listen to them and making them to stay; not to mention that people would start arguing with the speaker even without politely letting them to finish first and sometimes, even try to put the speaker in shame from gainsaying their thoughts.
I felt that the Speakers’ Corner is one of the best place to observe public speaking and there are many useful tips can be applied in our speaking, so here goes:
1) MAKE THEM LISTEN: FIND A TOPIC WITH MEANING(S) – What’s in your mind? In the Speaker’s Corner, topics are usually related to Politics, Religions, Economy, Conflicts (War) that are quite easy to attract people to listen to – because that is what people thinks a lot about too! What would make your public speaking sounds great from the beginning is the topic that you choose could relate to other people. When you have something to talk about, try to zoom out and think of the genre or the category that you prepared to talk. For example, when you think of cooking, think about the meaning of it, ie. why you want to talk about it – is it about pursuing healthy lifestyle, cooking technique or about food culture? Try to find out the meaning and you would be able to attract the ears of your audience.
To put it in practice, try to do this: I want to talk about (the Topic) is because (the Meaning).
2) MAKE THEM STAY: THINK, READ, WRITE – When you are clear with your topic, you probably already know what you wanted to talk, but don’t be overjoyed! It is likely that you already narrowed by your own thoughts if you start preparing your speech. Spend sometime on information gathering, the internet is obviously a gold mine for information, so as other non-digital formats, books, newspapers, leaflets etc. and talk to people who might have the information you are seeking for too. The beauty is, you would be more knowledgeable on your topic and having more information to make them appeal to your audience. If you are lucky and pay enough attention on your source of information, you might be able to find something unjust to talk about it too.
Bingo! That’s exactly what you would listened from the speakers in Hyde Park, they usually start with the information or thoughts that are conventional that everyone thinks there’s nothing wrong with it, then they start to point out those common sources of information or thoughts were in fact, unjust, and they are the whistleblowers to tell you the truth! Curious to know more about it? Stay on and listen to them!
3) ESTABLISH YOUR AUTHORITY: QUOTES, FIGURES, FACTS – Don’t waste what you read! Referring to what other people said, researched, or even folklore/beliefs, are powerful ways in convincing your audience that your thoughts are unquestionable and worthwhile for listening! In Hyde Park, people who talk about Religions are obvious to use their holy books to reiterate their beliefs in gods and why those words are important to you, so as people would quote “our newspaper said that our economy is looming” in debates for economy policy, or “researcher said our oil reserve could last for another 70 years” to raise the importance of conservation, these are Quotes, Figures and Facts that are undoubtedly making the speaker sounds more professional and their thoughts are being backed by other people already. Make references to someone’s work would strengthen your image as a legitimate speaker!
One word of caution though, is that when using references of some other people’s work, it would, one way or the other, stripped the original meaning of their works and make it into the advantage of the speakers. This might sound very advantage to the speakers in strengthening their stance; however, if the original meaning was heavily stripped or even altered, it would in the same time, violates the original authors ideas or stance in their works that a backslash in disapproving your speech would happen too. When using references, it is the speakers responsibility to be as pertinent as one should.
4) LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE AND POLISH YOUR SPEECH AGAIN, AGAIN AND AGAIN: – Feedbacks are important to improve your speaking skills. While you are less likely to be interrupted by your audience as instantly as they would in the case of Hyde Park, you should be prepared to listen to your audience for their feedbacks. In many ways, when we are preparing a speech, we spend a lot of time in polishing our thoughts that might not even appeal to our audience – that is because we only prepare it in our brains and can be very different from what would make the audience listen. Ask your audience how they think about your speech after speaking is vital for being a competent speaker! Through accepting feedbacks with an open-mind, you would be able to gain insights to your audience’s thoughts and tailor your future speeches that would be more impactful!
5) BE IN THE MOMENT, ENJOY IT! – Public speaking is no easy job for everyone – even for very well trained, very well prepared speakers. In Hyde Park, think of the stress they would face from their audience that people are both eager to listen to them and literally eager to tear them apart from defeating their ideas. Even in such very harsh situation, the speakers are always enthuses on what they talk about and try to response to arguments that even policing people with ill manners. Being enthuses on what you say, even in the utmost arms-crossed situation is very important to convey your message through public speaking. Your attitude counts and you need to be in the moment when you speak. Or else, you won’t be able to convey your message and will just like speaking someone else’s script.
6) VISIT THE SPEAKERS’ CORNER, HYDE PARK – As the name already suggested, Speakers’ Corner is a land of Speakers from all walks of life. You would be able to see different techniques and skills in public speaking and observing the reactions from the crowds. Of couse, it would be easier to post some videos here to demonstrate the tips mentioned above. However, concerning the sensitiveness of the topics and cropping their rather long speaking into short clips would also lost the original meaning and the proposes of why their speak in that certain way, I would rather suggest you to visit the place yourself if you are near London. Of course, you can always find the videos in YouTube for your discoveries and here’s the link http://goo.gl/n8R2S.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Royce is the award winning, past Governor of Area H2 (District 89) and past President of the MDC Toastmasters Club. He started his Toastmasters journey with the Vienna Toastmasters Club, Austria in 2007 and enjoys public speaking ever since. He places great emphasis on meeting experiences and members development for speech deliveries. He applies his public speaking skills in his work for wildlife conservations and makes killer presentation slides to convey his ideas. He has been accredited as a Competent Communicator (CC) and has accomplished the level of Advanced Leadership Bronze (ALB) titles. You can find more information in his blog.