Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Speech Construction

  1. Before you start on any speech, presentation etc., ask yourself some questions:
    1. Why… have you decided to do this? (For fun, to raise money, to help a friend, a professional obligation etc?)
    2. Who… are you speaking to? What age, sex, profession etc? How many people will be there? What are the common links amongst them, and between them and you?
    3. What… are you aiming to do? Persuade / entertain / impress / inspire…etc?
    4. Where… are you speaking? How big? What are the facilities – lighting, sound system, data projector etc? Do they work? Can you check them out personally? Do you need special advice about it (eg are you on TV or radio)?
    5. When… are you speaking (eg at 10am or after dinner) and how will that affect your audience? How long have you to prepare for this? How long do they want you to talk?
    6. How… are you doing it? A speech / presentation / discussion / debate…etc?
  2. Material
    1. If you have choice of subject, think of what you might talk about.
    2. Collect your ideas on the subject(s) – lists or mind maps or pictures – whatever works for you. Don't exclude humour. (If you don't know about mind mapping, look into it, it works).
    3. Research – books and publications, internet, newspapers, talk to other people; expand your ideas.
    4. Decide what material you want to use – but throw away nothing in case you change your mind.
    5. Think about/draft a possible order for your material - a logical progression for the beginning to the end.

  3. Introduction
    A speech will usually have a beginning, a middle and an end. But before you begin to speak you should be introduced to the group. Write your own introduction, ask the person introducing you to use it.
    Write it to enhance your speech and support what you are trying to achieve. So it might explain your qualifications to speak on the subject; make you sound like a person the group can identify with; raise questions you will be addressing in your talk etc.
  4. Beginning
    1. If you start with something like ‘Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen’,  it gives people time to tune into your voice and it gives you time to get to grips with the microphone / acoustics (if you haven’t has a practice run).
    2. The beginning is important, try to make it make it clear, relevant and attention grabbing.
    3. How much of your time will you give to your beginning?
  5. Middle
    1. There is a balance to a well constructed speech. 3 or 5 main points seem to give it. Decide what they will be and put the rest aside – but throw away nothing in case you change your mind.
    2. Consider how to link your main points – a speech should flow, not jump, from one idea to another.
    3. How much time is available for each point?
  6. End
    1. The end should (rather like the beginning) be clear, relevant and memorable. Sometimes switching your planned end and beginning works well.
    2. Make the end clear to the audience – beware of letting them think that you have ended when you have more to say.
    3. How much time will you give to your ending?
  7. Review and refine what you have drafted, until you are happy with it.
    1. Stand up in your biggest space and read it out loud, listen to it. Maybe record yourself.
    2. Are you comfortable with it? Do you believe it will achieve your purpose?
    3. Does it sound right spoken out loud? (e.g. isn’t or is not; we or you; short words or long?)
    4. Is the timing going to plan?
    5. Is there a place for more topical references or humour? (Keep listening to the news).
    6. Take any help or advice going.
    7. Be ruthless in getting rid of what isn’t working for you, even if you love it.
  8. And some final preparations.
    1. Are you using notes? (Why would you not?)
    2. Print or write them on – cards? top part of A4 paper? Practise to find what suits you.
    3. Ensure that you can read notes in bad light and number them in case you drop them.
    4. Give someone a 2nd set, in case you forget or lose them.
    5. If you are using IT equipment / pen drives / autocue etc, try to have spares and a run through before the meeting starts.
    6. Decide an appropriate outfit for the event – have it clean and ready.
    7. Have clear directions to where you are going and plan the journey – recce it in advance?
    8. Arrange for feedback on how your speech goes from someone you trust; learn from it.
    9. Whatever goes wrong – keep smiling. Audiences are both forgiving and slow to recognise mistakes!
Ruth Maltman, DC, FITC,
POWERtalk Pollokshields

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Simple Guide to Newsletters in Word


Online, On Paper or Both?

Are people going to be reading your newsletter on a computer screen?  If so any web addresses should be hyperlinks i.e. the reader should be able to click on a link to be taken to the web address. If it is to be printed you may want the number of pages to be a multiple of four especially if it is to be professionally printed. One sheet of A3 can accommodate four A4 pages (this is the advantage of the ISO system of paper sizes over the ANSI standard used in North America).

Tick TOC

If you want to use a table of contents insert a TOC field. It will make life much easier for you. Why? because the table of contents is updated Automatically. By default the TOC entries will be based on the heading styles so make sure that you use the correct heading rather than arbitrarily changing the size and weight of the font to match a heading. The page number will be a hyperlink to the item and you can add the \h option to make the entire entry a hyperlink (this is the default in newer versions of Word).

As an alternative to mapping the TOC to headings you can set the \f option to use TC fields.  This means that you insert a TC field before any item that you wish to appear in the table of contents.

Add Your Own Style

You may wish to add a style for a particular purpose for example a byline style might use right-justified paragraphs and bold text to display the author of an item.


Columns can complicate the layout of your newsletter but you may prefer this style of presentation. Use section breaks to separate collimated parts of the newsletter from non-collimated parts.

At the Drop of a Cap

If you leaf through a magazine you will notice that the first paragraph of an article and possibly some of the other paragraphs start with a large capital letter. This is a dropped capital or "drop cap". In word you can format the first letter of a paragraph as a drop cap. Do not use it on every paragraph and especially avoid it on short paragraphs. You might want to use drop caps as a way to break an article into sections.

Pull Quote

That eye-catching quote in your magazine highlighted in large print is known as a pull quote. You can add a pull quote in Word by inserting a text box and choosing a large font style. Format the text box to allow text to flow around it.

Format Painter

If you incorporate a submitted article into a newsletter you can use the format painter to copy the paragraph style from elsewhere in the document. The format painter is a brush found on the home ribbon or standard toolbar.  Select a piece of formatted text and then click on format painter. Select the text to be formatted and when you release the mouse button the format is applied. If you want to apply the format to several places you can use a double click to activate the format painter. It then stays active until you press the escape key.

An alternative to format painter is to use Ctrl-Shift-C to copy the formatting and Ctrl-Shift-V to paste formatting to other places.

Take care with formatting paragraphs containing hyperlinks. The hyperlinks will still be active but will have the appearance of the surrounding text.

Compatibility Issues

Somebody’s just got a brand new shiny computer and suddenly you cannot swap files. What’s wrong? The chances are that the recipient is using an earlier version of Word. If you are the sender you can fix the problem by ensuring that you send files in Word 97-2003 document format (Instead of “Save” choose “Save As” from the file tab and find said format in the pull-down list for “Save as type”). If you are the recipient of a “docx” file and your version of Word can only load “doc” files, do not despair; you can download a compatibility pack from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/open-a-word-2007-document-in-an-earlier-version-of-word-HA010044473.aspx


Insert your picture and experiment with the different formatting options until you are satisfied that it is presented the way you want it.

The Devil

… is in the detail so they say and the detail will depend on the version of Word you are using. Use what I have said above in conjunction with the help system to add a little sparkle to your newsletters.

Distinguished Communicator

Congratulations to Liz Duncan who has joined the elite band of POWERtalk International Distinguished Communicators (DCs). In order to complete Level 5 - the highest on the Accreditation programme - Liz had to pass an oral examination. This she did at the Great Britain Region Conference. There are only 40 DCs worldwide and Liz's award is a well-deserved recognition of the quality of her communication skills. It's also a mark of her diligence and dedication. Well done Liz!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Persuasive Speaking Part 3 - Charm and Hex Words

To understand persuasive speaking you have to understand the power of words. If an advertisement for a food product claims it is “full of natural goodness” they are trying to make you believe the product is wholesome. The phrase is meaningless but it circumvents laws against making demonstrably false claims.

Words can have emotional resonance that strikes deeper than rational argument. When a tabloid journalist talks about “Frankenstein food” he or she is trying to stir up revulsion at the idea of “tampering with nature”.

Words like pure, natural and hygienic are what I call charm words. Words like artificial, synthetic and “germy” are what I call hex words. The former have a positive connotation, the latter a negative one.

A vitamin made by artificial means is no different to the same vitamin from a natural source. Is it meaningful to describe a soap dispenser as “germy” if it harbours a few hundred bacteria? If it harboured a few thousand the advertisers might have a point.

In a TV studio discussion programme they were talking about whether obese pregnant women should be given a drug hitherto given to diabetics (including pregnant diabetic women) in order to prevent the foetus from receiving too much insulin. One of the panel said that if she were pregnant she would want to make sure that anything she took was “pure”. Pure what? Pure poison?

When I hear words like “chemical” being used a hex word I take it with a pinch of sodium chloride (that’s a chemical commonly known as salt by the way). If you want to avoid chemicals, avoid the sugar and spice and go for the healthy protein of the rats and snails.

To recap, in Part 2 I explained that an Adult-Adult transaction at a social level can also be an Adult-Child transaction at a psychological level. As a persuasive tactic you can appeal to the Child in us through charm words, words that make us feel safe and comfortable or you can use hex words to frighten the Child (scary monsters – hide behind the sofa).

In debating think about the use of words and the resonances that certain words have. Don’t forget about humour. sometimes the charm words that work best tickle the Child.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Persuasive Speaking Part 2 - Transactional Analysis

In his book, Games People Play, Dr. Eric Berne described ego states as being “a system of feelings accompanied by a related set of behaviour patterns”. He tells us that ego states are categorised as exteropsychic, neopsychic or archaeopsychic. The first resemble ego states of parental figures; the second are autonomously directed towards the objective appraisal of reality and the third are ego states that remain from early childhood.

The expression of the three kinds of ego state may be referred to colloquially as the Parent, Adult and Child respectively.

Berne defines a transaction as a unit of social intercourse. Parents indulge in gossip. Adults solve problems together. Children or Parent and Child play together. These are known as Complementary Transactions. However a Crossed Transaction occurs when one party addresses the other as Adult-to-Adult and the other party responds as Child-to-Parent or Parent-to-Child.

What does any of this have to do with persuasive speaking? In Part 1 I talked about Aristotle’s three types of persuasion. Ethos (moral character of the speaker) is an appeal to the Parent, Logos (reasoned argument) is an appeal to the Adult and Pathos (an emotional appeal) is an appeal to the Child.

Berne points out that transactions involving the activity of two ego states simultaneously (Ulterior Transactions) are the basis of games (games are complex social behaviours with their own rules not necessarily games in the literal sense). He cites the following example:

Salesman: ‘This one is better, but you can’t afford it.’
Housewife: ‘That’s the one I’ll take.’

On a social level the transaction is Adult-Adult but on a psychological level the salesman’s Adult is addressing the Housewife’s Child. Notice that there are two sets of Complementary Transactions here. Berne states that “the first rule of communication is that communication will proceed smoothly as long as transactions are complementary; and its corollary is that as long as transactions are complementary, communication can, in principle, proceed indefinitely.”

Perhaps now you can see why the emotional appeal is particularly powerful. In Part 3 I’ll examine the use of language in persuasion and how we are easily persuaded using words with a positive connotation (charm words) or those with a negative connotation (hex words).

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Persuasive Speaking Part 1 - Aristotle's Rhetoric

The Greek Philosopher Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion”. Aristotle’s Rhetoric was a very influential work in the development of the art and now, millennia after it was written, it is still regarded as an important work in the academic study of rhetoric.

Aristotle identified three types of persuasion that a speaker can use:-
  • Ethos: Persuasion based on the moral character of the speaker,
  • Logos: Persuasion based on logical argument,
  • Pathos: Persuasion based on emotional appeal.
By far the most powerful persuader is pathos. If you want to win people over trying to appeal to reason can be difficult as can relying on your reputation – would I lie to you? Emotion will trump these almost every time.

Friday, 18 March 2011

POWERtalk on You Tube

A video presentation from members of Trends Club, Austria on how POWERtalk can change your life. If you didn’t think that public speaking could be fun the enthusiasm of these ladies might just change your mind!

For clubs in Great Britain see the panel on the right – Where Are We?