Public speaking is an art. I will tell you why and it is my hope that you will engage yourself in learning and enjoying public speaking.
When I was young, I was not into public speaking. It was a chore. It was something you have to go through each day during class recitations. Though it feels great when a teacher says ” very good”, it was never an enjoyable experience. That’s because I had no control. I did not know how to become an effective public speaker.
But I gained more exposure when I was in high school. I was a member of a Marian group. We pray every day. Seminarians visit our school once a week. They taught us about leadership and Christian piety. At the same time, I was a member of Patronato, a Sunday class at the Church of Antipolo.
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I got many opportunities to speak without being graded. I was free to speak my mind and express my feelings. Those experiences helped me appreciate public speaking. But it took me 20 more years to pay attention to developing skills in public speaking.
When I entered the seminary after high school, I was amazed by the number of hours seminarians invest to prepare themselves for public speaking engagements. For example, one seminarian who was to deliver a one-hour challenge talk had to practice his speech for two days, six hours each day. His speeches were remarkable. He owns it. No one speaks like him. And I can say the same for others.
During this time, I was an ouido player as a public speaker. I hear something from speakers and I can tell the story myself. I tweak stories for new audiences. New seminarians are copycats. Until I realized that there was an Easter Sunday, two years before I entered the seminary when I was original.
Public Speaking Is An Art
Public speaking is an art. It is a visual expression of who you are, what you believe the world to be, and how it means to you and your audience. You speak because you want your audience to see the world you see, to experience what you experience, to be one with them.
The public speaker is an artist. You can use the word walk to describe yourself when walking. Everyone knows what it means. But as a public speaker, you explore other words to paint meanings. You will choose between amble or bounce, clump or falter, hike, hobble, limp, lumber, mince or march, pace, parade or promenade, peregrinate, plod, pound, prance, ramble, roam, saunter, and wander. Hues are many, and you the artist decide what you want us to hear, see, feel, smell, and experience.
As an artist, you go beyond what words can paint.
You use gestures. You gesticulate to show how big is big and how small is small. You use gestures to show fast and slow, chaos and flow. You show us how many or how few, how high or low. The artist knows how and when he can use his hands.
You use your face to show when you are cheerful, contented, delighted, ecstatic, elated, glad, joyful, peaceful, pleased, thrilled, upbeat, blessed, captivated, gay, gleeful, gratified, intoxicated, jolly, laughing, light, looking good, or on cloud nine. You have a thousand faces. You don’t have to wear a mask to show that you are guilty or sad, the artist in you can make us see and feel what you see and feel.
You use your voice. With your voice alone, you tell us that the message is “for our ears only”. You hint. You gossip. You insinuate. You scream, howl, roar, cry, yap, yell, and yammer. We can close our eyes, but we can’t close our ears to you. You create a visceral experience with your voice.
You use your body. You don’t just walk. You bounce, march, prance, or mince. To show how you feel, you walk away, walk around, or walk forward. You jump. You kneel. You sit. All because you want your audience to see what you mean.
Rearrange your words and you can change meanings. You stop talking, and you will create meaning.
You can choose to tell stories. You can pick a pencil and tell a story about it. You can pick an avocado seed and you can make your audience imagine that it grows. You can give each of them a can of soda and have everyone shout “I CAN! For public speaking is a participatory art too.
It is an art about us and for us.
Public speaking is an art and every art has its patrons. Through your speech, you create a world we all truly care about. Think of the public speaking artist Martin Luther King Jr and his art “I Have A Dream”.
Most of us remember the second part of his speech, not the first part. The first part was propaganda. It was created by a committee. It was meant to achieve a political objective. That it was made by a committee does not make it less art. But every art has its audience. The second part of his speech was the art meant for the people in his audience. It was heartfelt because it was what everyone was dreaming about, deep in their hearts, be they white, black, yellow, brown, or whatever color.
This is why I love public speaking. It is a lifestyle, a discipline, a science, and an art. I breathe it and smell it and feel it.
You Are the Art of Public Speaking
As I have said earlier, public speaking is a “visual expression of who you are, what you believe the world to be, and how it means to you and your audience.” You can study the many elements of public speaking and make people see your message. But there is something that I want you to realize today.
You are not just the messenger, you are the message in public speaking. You are not just the artist, you are the art of public speaking.
This is very important, because whoever you think you are you communicate to the world. You will form your words around your beliefs. You will use your hands, arms, body, facial expressions, and voice around your beliefs.
As artists, we have to know ourselves so we can share our art.