Of the four-language skills, speaking skill is of vital importance because it includes both verbal and non-verbal communication clues. Through vocal sounds, we can express our thoughts and feelings and can give information also. People having expertise in speaking skills are often effective communicators as it is one of the basic ingredients of effective communication. When a speaker speaks, chances of misunderstanding information can be there because of poor communication skills. So, it is the duty of speaker to communicate exactly and effectively. Analysis and absorption of information also plays a key role in speaking process. Positive thinking also fuels speaking process because thinking before speaking clarifies our feelings, emotions and thoughts.
Essential steps for improving speaking skill
As for catering a dish, there is need to know a proper recipe, in the same way, for effective speaking, a speaker should follow these steps:
Be an active listener
“Be a good listener, if you want to be an effective speaker” is a famous quote that clearly explains the importance of effective listening. Effective listeners listen to words along with tone, logic and emotions behind the words.
Be a quick organizer of thoughts
Human mind has the capacity to think faster than any super computer. But to take work from mind, speaker has to follow some model or framework to adjust new information into a logical and coherent structure. Breaking down issues and ideas into present, past and future is an example of such model.
Structure your speech in your mind
The general pattern of any speech is opening, body and conclusion. Introduction of the topic comes in opening, details and supporting examples make body of speech and wrapping up is conclusion. If a speaker is given the chance to speak, he can follow this pattern to say a few sentences regarding any topic.
Be prepared and practice
“If a person is not over prepared, he is under prepared” is quite appropriate for speaking skill. Brainstorming the topic can be of key importance regarding outline organization. Speaker can jot down the main points and practice speech 3 to 5 times with loud voice. Such practice can boost the confidence of speaker and ultimately, he performs well because perfect practice makes a man perfect.
Know your audience
While speaking, grabbing attention of audience is of great importance because this quality of speaker makes a good connection between speaker and listeners. And for building connection, a thorough research on audience can be helpful to know about the qualification, interests, expertise, hobbies etc.
KISS principle (Speaking skills)
Keep it short and simple is the acronym of kiss principle. During speech, short and simple speech wins the laurels because beating about the bush is not appreciated most of the time. Use of complex metaphors makes speech difficult to understand. Including stories having an element of humor is also effective if it is suitable according the demand of the situation.
Interact with your audience
While speaking, interaction with audience is of key importance to communicate effectively. Eye contact with listeners or viewers also plays a significant role in making connectivity. Involvement of audience during speaking breaks the barriers of effective communication because they start taking more interest in the process of communication. Asking questions for validation like, “Are you getting my point of view? Or have you ever experienced this thing in your life?” are of great value in this context.
Speaking with passion and sincerity
Words coming out of speaker’s heart have a significant effect on listeners. So, truthfulness and sincerity of speaker regarding target audience is of great importance for effective communication.
Memorable end of speech
Finishing a speech with an inspiring story or quote or thought-provoking question leaves an everlasting impression on audience’s mind.
Fluency (Speaking skills)
Between the two aspects of speech i.e., speaking with fluency or speaking with correct grammar, speaking with fluency is more significant because this quality of speaker catches the listener’s attention. Grammatical aspects of language are easy to learn but fluency needs a lot of practice.
While speaking, not only words but also the tone, gestures and facial expressions are of great significance. Normally, we find ourselves in three kinds of situations which are as follows:
Face to face talking and telephone calls come under the category of interactive speaking situations. In this situation, both listener and speaker listen and talk alternately and listener can say to speaker for repetition, clarification or slower down the process of speech.
When speaker delivers a speech and listeners keep on just listening without any kind of interference, it is partially interactive situation.
In this scenario, listeners listen to the speaker but don’t intervene speaker. Along with this, speaker is able to judge the understanding and participation level of spectators from their body language and facial expressions.
Non-Interactive (Speaking skills)
The ratio of non-interactive situations is very low as is in radio broadcast or some television program. During this speaking situation, speaker is neither able to be intervened nor can see the responses of listeners in the form of expressions and gestures.
Barriers to Effective Communication
Effective communication is of vital importance in a successful life but there are some barriers to effective communication. For effective communication, knowing about these barriers is of much significance. So, following are the barriers of effective communication:
Physical and Physiological Barriers:
Malfunctioning equipment, distance from listeners and background noise are some examples of physical barriers. Such physical barriers can interrupt the process of effective communication. Problems in the organs of speech, bad hearing, poor eyesight etc. are physiological barriers.
Emotional and cultural noise:
Different emotions like fear, anger or sadness can affect objective approach of listeners. Listeners’ attitude (either positive or negative) towards speaker is also very important in effective communication. If listeners have different background and are biased regarding speaker’s culture, communication will impede.
Language (Speaking skills)
Difference in language or accent can hinder the process of effective communication. Along with this, use of jargon or slang can be an obstacle in effective communication.
Nothing or little in common
When speaker gives such allusions and shares those stories and anecdotes which are familiar to listeners also, can have a good impact on the process of effective communication.
Lack of eye contact
Eye contact of speaker with audience is very supportive in non-verbal communication and enhances trust of listeners regarding speaker.
Information overload and lack of focus
Sometimes speakers cannot decide what to speak and what to remove from the speech; and as a result, overload information where it is not necessary. Focusing on the main point is the secret of effective communication.
Not being prepared, lack of credibility
Some speakers take the help of just power point presentations and are not over prepared to present in the best possible way. Under preparation results in the lack of credibility; even listeners feel disrespected and will not believe what you say.
Talking too much
To persuade people, listening to audience is necessary but when speaker speaks, he does not listen to the audience.
Trying too hard, seeming desperate
When a speaker tries too hard to convince audiences, he seems desperate and people lack interest in your speech.
Lack of enthusiasm
Enthusiasm, passion and energy are contagious; so a speaker’s enthusiasm is shifted to audience and makes them enthusiastic. In the same way, lack of passion demotivates listeners also.
Characteristics of Spoken Language
Following are the characteristics of spoken language
- Non-standard grammar and mistakes in grammar which include concord errors also are common in spoken English. e.g., he don’t listen and pronoun mistakes e.g., me coming to see you.
- Sociolect and dialect use is usual in spoken English.
- Swear words are also used commonly.
- Instead of formal and literary language, informal and colloquial language is common.
- Contractions are common in spoken English. e.g., we’ve discussed the matter. I’m with you etc.
- Fillers like uh, ah, fill the gap when speaker wants to speak and does not have words on the tip of tongue.
- Some sentences remain incomplete e.g., you know; it was like etc.
- Intensifiers increase the beauty of spoken language. E.g., really sweet, totally cool etc.
- Discourse markers such as well, oh, like, of course, yeah right are used in spoken language.
- Ellipses (the omission of a part of a sentence) are usually used in spoken English to have flow and lucidity. e.g., I’ll order a laptop and you can, too.
Reader’s background knowledge, grammatical structures, vocabulary and experience with text all are vital to understand the exact meaning of text.