Moving Beyond Novice

by Stephen Boyd | October 15, 2004

At what point do you go from being a novice speaker to an experienced and effective speaker? One does not simply arrive at that point because he or she has spoken a magical number of times. To have delivered fifty speeches does not necessarily mean you have become an effective speaker. I think there is one major criterion for getting to that point: when you are more audience-centered than self-centered.

In your early speeches, your main goal was probably to get through the speech without passing out. Then you began somewhat to enjoy the adrenalin rush as you went to the front of the room to speak. Next you relied less on your notes and had more eye contact with your audience.

But you really reach the effective speaker range when in each presentation your major concern is your audience. Will they understand? Is this material that will help them improve or be persuaded? What questions will they want answered? Which terms need to be defined and explained as I speak? What will they do as a result of my presentation? How can I deliver this material to keep them engaged throughout the presentation? How much evidence will I need to convince the people in this audience?

Even if your speeches are similar, each presentation is different because each audience is different. Your major concern is to influence that specific audience. You consistently make sure that you have content to fit the situation of each new audience.

Sometimes you need a break from delivering speeches or you need to include new material in the presentation. You can recognize this when your thoughts are about getting through the material and how boring it is to deliver this report for the tenth time. Your thoughts have again become self-centered.

As you go about preparing and delivering speeches, remember this important consideration: be audience-centered, not self-centered, when you speak.

About the Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.

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