Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rhetoric in Public Speaking

Over 2000 years ago, Aristotle came up with his idea of rhetoric. These were the elements of speech that people used to persuade others. Here are a number of links to different parts of rhetoric that you can use when you are next making a presentation, or doing so public speaking.

There are 3 elements to Rhetoric. These are:
  1. Ethos - defined as personality and stance. The "who are you" and "What are you trying to convince us of?"
  2. Pathos - this is the appeal to the emotions; &
  3. Logos - this is the logic in your argument.

There are many websites that offer hints about rhetoric and public speaking. Some links are below:

  1. Professionally Speaking. This website looks at rhetoric in Public Speaking, mainly American and British.
  2. Bob Jones University
  3. Yahoos Rhetoric and Public Speaking listings;
  4. Aristotle's Rhetoric.

Once understood, the elements of rhetoric can be used to become more persuasive and convincing. They will also help you to negate persuasive arguments that you need to argue against.


Darren Fleming

Australia's Public Speaking Coach

Public Speaking courses

Who is the best Public Speaker of all time?

There have been debates for centuries over who is the best orator of all time. While it is pretty much impossible to compare speakers across generations, it is possible to have a favourite from each age.

Bill Clinton is often quoted as being the best public speaker of our time. He has the ability to capture and hold the attention of any audience and deliver his message in a convincing way. Compare him to George W Bush, and it is like comparing chalk and cheese. Bush has no idea about presenting, and has to have his speeches tightly scripted. Otherwise he will stray further from the point, and get himself into even more trouble.

Nelson Mandela is also quoted as a great speaker of our time. Of the speeches that he has given, he is renowned for having a strong message that motivates us to action. This is essential in a speaker. While he may not be as technically 'correct' as Bill Clinton, his message is just as powerful. And after all, is that not what it is about? Getting your message across to your audience.

Not all great Public speakers are great people. Take for example Hitler. He was a purely evil man. However, he had the ability to speak to his nation and turn them against another race. He motivated a whole country to murder. I have an old German friend who saw Hitler give a number of speeches. He says that Hitler was hypnotic in his ability to control his audience and make them do as he wanted. He knew how to manipulate an audience to do what he wanted them to do. Unfortunately, as Get Smart would say, "he used his power for evil and not for Good".

Who is your favourite public speaker?


Darren Fleming
Australia's Public Speaking Coach
Public Speaking Courses

Friday, June 15, 2007

Should you follow the rules of Public Speaking?

Many people are of the opinion that there are a number of sacred rules in public speaking that should never be broken. You should never race through your speech, you should never hold the lectern and you should never turn your back on the audience.

I would like to challenge the validity of these rules.

I have been a Toastmaster for over 13 years, and have often pushed these rules on others. But I firmly believe that there comes a time when you must break the rules to reach the audience.

Case in point: The rule that you shhould never turn your back on the Audience while speaking.

At face value this seems like a good rule to follow as it helps you to engage the audience more.

However, it is possible to turn your back on the audience and engage them even more than when you are looking at them.

Recently I competed in the Disctrict 73 Toastmasters annual convention in Perth Australia. I was competiting in the Table Topics competition final. About 2000 people from across Asutralia had competed in this impromptu speaking competition, and I was one of just 7 people left standing. In this competition, you are given the topic and expected to start speaking on it straight away. The only preparation time you have is while you are walking across the stage.

The topic we had was:

"If you obey all the rules, you miss out on half the fun.
Is this a good philosophy to live by?"

As I walked across the stage, I decided that I would break some rules myslef. As I approached the centre of the stage, I turned and put my back to the audience and started speaking. I spoke about the rules that we should not break when speaking. The main rule was about keeping eye contact with your audience. I then proceeded to make fun of the rules about ensuring that you move across the stage so everyone sees you. Next was my favourite rule - the need to pause. I paused so long that even I forgot what I was going to say next. However, the audience laughed heartedly as I broke the rules that they all held so closely to themselves.
Whats more, when the judges returned their decision, I was the winner! from speaking to the others in the audience (and not just my friends!) I was a clear and unanimous winner.
So, it just goes to show, you don't need to follow all the rules to achieve your objectives.
However, might I suggest that you have a good understanding of the rules of Public Speaking and know how they operate before you go out and break them. If you don't understand the rule and how it operates, you may be doing your cause more harm than good it you decide to break the rules!
Darren Fleming

Saturday, June 9, 2007

What are the best way to improve your public speaking skills?

There are a number of great ways to improve your public speaking skills. Below is a list of some of the best.

  1. Toastmasters: Toastmasters is the worlds leading organisation for teaching public speaking. Based in the USA, it has clubs all over the world. This link will take you to Toastmasters in Australia. I have been a member of Toastmasters in South Australia for years and have benefited greatly from it. Another organisation that can help with this is Australia's Rostrum. Rostrum has their own program designed to improve your public speaking skills

  2. The second way to improve your public speaking skills is to attend a "private" public speaking course. This link will take you to a one-day course. You can get extended public speaking courses that offer more information.

  3. One-on-one public speaking coaching will allow you to really improve your skills. Often CEO's and the like use one-on-one coaching to refine their skills to allow them to be the leader they need to be.

  4. You can visit various public speaking websites to get information for free on them. Some great ones are Executive Speaking, David Brooks, the public speaking blog, Tom Antion, and of course this blog as it grows!

  5. Read articles on public speaking. You can get great articles on public speaking by trawling the net.

  6. Join the National Speakers Association. While this association does not teach public speaking in the same way that Toastmasters does, it will give you the skills that build on Toastmasters training. There are National Speakers associations all over the world. I am a member of the National Speakers Association of Australia

  7. Finally, you can just get out there and practice. As the the 2001 Word Champion of Public Speaking Darren LaCroix says, "Stage time, Stage time, Stage time" is the best way to improve. Just get up and have a go. You wont be as bad as you think you are - no one ever is.

'til next time.


Darren Fleming

Australia's Public Speaking Coach

Friday, June 8, 2007

Stories in Public Speaking


As a speaker, it is your duty to connect with your audience when public speaking. It does not matter what the topic is, or who is in your audience, if you are not connecting with your audience your message is not getting through.

One of the easiest ways to connect with your audience is with the use of simple stories. Simple stories are anecdotes that illustrate the point that you want to make.

We use stories in our daily conversations, and public speaking is no different. Have you ever told a work colleague what happened on the way to work; your partner what you did at work, or the kids about what you did when you were young? These are all simple stories that people share.

People are drawn to these stories because of the emotion that is contained in them. Your story of the trip to work may generate the emotion of laughter; you may share the emotion of frustration or success when describing to your partner what happened at work. And your kids love the emotion of excitement from when you were younger.

But where are the stories for your public speaking needs? Simply look at the facts and figures and ask yourself, “What do they mean?”, “What is the storey behind them?” It is story behind the facts and figures that people want. If you “facts and figures” tell you that your clients can save 10% by switching their services to you, tell them a story of someone who has achieved that. That’s a story!

Very few people will feel warm and fuzzy about facts; however, they will remember your stories long after the facts have been forgotten.

By using stories, your public speaking will become easier and more enjoyable for you and the audience.

You can get more information on public speaking by visiting Australias Public speaking coach