How often had you heard the premise in public speaking that you should tell your audience what you want them to hear, tell them again what you want them to hear and finally tell them once more what you have already told them? The reasoning behind this advice is that your listeners will only remember between 10% and 30% of your message; thus, it is to your advantage to repeat the information which you want them to remember.
That being the case, another tip to keep in mind is to keep your language simple. The purpose of public speaking is to communicate your ideas, your thoughts, your beliefs, or your opinions to an audience. That being the case, if you strive to impress your listeners with ‘big’ words, you will lose them in the process. Audiences are not impressed with words they may not readily understand; however, they are impressed with a message that is clear, concise, direct and easily remembered.
The only time I would advise speaking in an ‘erudite’ manner is if your topic was actually dealing with vocabulary and words not often used. There is a particular radio host that I listen to who often uses words that the general population may not be familiar with. In addition, he will give the definition of the word. The difference with this particular host is that his audience expects it of him. We listen to him knowing we will learn more vocabulary. He is a very well-read man and listening to him is indeed an education and a pleasure.
Most public speakers, however, do not have the goal of improving the vocabulary of their audiences. In many cases, they have something to sell. Be it their ideas, their beliefs, or their book or CD at the back of the room, their objective is to get you to agree with them and then motivate you to action. Using ‘big’ words will make it that much more difficult to make the sale because you will be leaving your audience frustrated and possibly even embarrassed if they do not understand your speech or presentation.
Newspapers are supposedly written at a 6th grade level. I would suggest not going much beyond that unless you are teaching a university or masters level English or Literature course. Do not try the patience of your listeners if you plan on a career in public speaking. Wow your audience with your message and your delivery by keeping it simple and speaking in plain language.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Voice Dynamic.
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