I am a public speaker. And here are my discoveries about my blossoming relationship with the craft of public speech.
Though I already did have quite a number of talks for experience, and some of them were big talks with big audiences, I cannot say for sure exactly how many talks should I make still in order to be an official, legitimate speaker. I had no formal training except for the times my mom made me join the declamations/orations/elocution contests during grade school until high school. I am not even sure if one can count that as formal training. From there on, all I had was the continuous flow of opportunities to speak. The talk proper became my precious practice as well.
Preparing for my big talk in the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) which happened last September 2 in Landbank Plaza, Manila, was an eye opener in the way I have been loving this craft.
I call it a craft, because public speaking is an art. The speaker is the canvas. The message is the inherent value. The way it is delivered– the words, the non verbal gestures, the pauses, the emphasis on some ideas– is the different strokes and varying colors.
The way it is delivered depends largely on personality. How a speaker concocts her talk, how she prepares for it, how she delivers it, what words or style she uses, depends on the uniqueness of her personality. One can see the quirks here: the jokes, the wit, the seriousness, the profundity, the ease, the energy. Each talk is bound to be different from one another despite trying to communicate the same message, because each person is unique. Each one has her own experience. Each one has her own way of understanding the message and communicating it across the audience.
Although the fun and entertaining trait of the talk can be found in the different strokes and varying colors, alone it cannot suffice for the worth of the message. I am not impressed by speakers who are highly entertaining and makes the audience laugh, takes off splendidly but fails to land the points of her message to the audience. She was in there for theatrics and performance, not for communicating value.
I think the most important responsibility a speaker must be able to do is to communicate the inherent value of the message. And to try to communicate it wholly as to how she understands the message. Why is the message important to her? And why should the audience know its importance? The inherent value of the message is the big rock of any talk. Failing to communicate the “why” of the message empties the whole talk. It becomes flimsy and forgettable.
The speaker is the canvas. It is in her mind that she forms the words. It is in her heart that she derives her passion. It is in the lens of her experiences that she sees through the value of her message. She is not a tabula rasa. Everything she says is pre-formed by previous experiences, tainted by the hopes of her dreams and influenced by the maturity of her character. Her thoughts, ideals, dreams even the broken ones are there to substantiate and make whole the message. She makes her own self the moving canvas: to paint on and to paint with.
When the speaker, the message and the way it is delivered harmonize into one to form the talk, that is creation. The speaker unites herself to the message, becomes one with it in the process of preparing for it and actually delivering it. The pain of the preparation, the laboriousness of thinking, writing and practicing, are likened to the pangs of birth. Once the message is formed, the words into place, with the right pauses and emphasis on some parts, the talk stands to become a living entity of art pronounced to life by the speaker. Its spikes of fire in the hearts of the listening audience is its manifestation of being alive.
I am glad of this newfound perspective. I hope to still learn a lot from these. I pray for more speaking engagements to come.