SPEAKING & WRITING with Effectiveness
As experienced by D.A. Sharpe
These are some principles, useful in the art of public speaking and writing. They are composed for anyone who addresses a public audience. This document was created primarily for coaching political candidates running for office. However, most of the principles apply to public speaking and writing venues in general. Perhaps these ideas will enhance your ability to communicate.
1. Prepare yourself mentally for each presentation.
2. State a specific purpose for the talk, and how you plan to pursue it.
3. Plan to make your address without reference to hand-held notes.
4. Do not rush to open your mouth the moment you reach the podium. Pause, look over the audience, and then begin.
5. Review your speech and enunciate clearly.
6. Practice enunciation of your words, particularly consonants.
7. When addressing an audience, speak more slowly and distinctly than you do in casual conversation at the office.
8. Limit your points to about three that are well supported with stories, examples and/or illustrations, but not excessively.
. . . . . . .This section 9 is about practicing good grammar!
Why is good grammar so important, especially if you feel that most of your audience does not practice good grammar, nor does that seem to concern them? It matters, because you do not want to limit your message to those who don't mind incorrect grammar! Those people fare just as well when good grammar is used in their presence. The key element to know is, as soon as you use bad or secondary quality grammar, you lose the attention of and the credibility from the more refined or more educated people in the audience. The moment you begin speaking, people begin judging you, estimating your background, your probable education, and perhaps your acquaintance with what people consider culture. This applies to writing as well.
9. For example: (a) use personal pronouns correctly, (b) avoid splitting infinitives and (c) watch how you use prepositions.
(a) Personal pronouns need to be used correctly: _
(b) Avoid splitting infinitives.
(c) “Never use a preposition to end a sentence with!”
10. A very important statement, which may be controversial, first should be written carefully, so that wording can be chosen wisely.
11. If you are provided a microphone, keep it close to your mouth.
12. Vary your pitch (highness and lowness of voice), pace (speak slower sometimes, and then a bit more quickly on "common phrases"), loudness (increasing volume is sometimes less effective than decreasing it._
13. Dress appropriately for the occasion.
14. Visualize yourself with a natural smile, a straight back, head held high and a stomach pulled in, walking to the platform, speaking and leaving the platform. _
15. In most cases, avoid having a stern appearance on the countenance of your face.
16. Be prepared to follow-up important matters.
17. Remember what your mother probably said, “If you can’t say anything good about a person, don’t say anything at all.”
18. Audience engagement is often helpful. Consider involving someone by asking a pertinent question, “What do you think about the benefits of the tax proposal?”
19. Never speak too softly. Sufficient loudness to reach the back of the audience is what you need, especially when no sound system available.
20. Pauses really add to audience attention.
21. Being on time is extremely important.
22. In concluding remarks, restate the specific purpose of that occasion in the same phrasing or in reasonably close phrasing to what you announced at the start. Thank the audience for coming, and ask them to support your cause or your candidacy.
23. It is good, if you can, to visit the site of the address earlier, perhaps the day before, or at least earlier than the audience begins to arrive. It helps you to have a sense of the setting.
24. An expressed “thank you” is important.
These are principles that I strive to follow. There still is work to be done in me with them. They include suggestions from friends who shared their ideas about this document. They are cited on the last page below.
The public speaker who masters most of these principles is a step-ahead of the competition. It’s a good way to have the last word, simply by being pleasant to have been at an event. It’s another way of creating impressions beyond mere words.
Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe,
Wise County Republican Chairman 2000-2008
805 Derting Road East
Aurora, TX 76078-3712
This document originally was composed by me about 2004. In my role at that time, as Chairman of the Wise County Republican Party, it was used to coach political candidates in preparing themselves for public campaigns. Below is a list of some 13 citizens and political leaders who gave input for this document to give it credibility. Adjustments have been made up to 2017 to indicate those positions now that are former. Acknowledgements and my gratitude go for contributions to the composition of this article from the following friends:
Jeff Fisher Former Executive Director, _ Republican Party of Texas,
Dick Dzina Former Executive Director, _ Highland Park Presbyterian _ Church Foundation
J. Ralph Wood, Jr. Retired Attorney, Dallas, Texas (now deceased)
Will Hartnett Former Texas State Legislative _ Representative, District #114,
Now in private law practice
Janelle Shepard Texas political commentator, _ former Republican County Chair, _ Parker County.
Becky Farrar Former Republican leader, Hood County, _ Texas
Peggy Bell Contributing editor, Christianity
Today Women’s magazine_ (Mrs. B. Clayton)
Carolyn M. Former Administrative Asst. to _Orlebeke the Sr. Pastor, Highland Park
Presbyterian Church, Dallas,
Trip Jones Dallas area businessman
Rev. Sharon Horne Presbyterian Minister, Atlanta, Georgia_
Becky Shaw Former Administrator in the State_ Legislature, Louisville, Kentucky
Francis D. Moise Dallas investment advisor
James L. Griffith Former Governor of Rotary District (North Texas), former President, Rotary Club of Dallas (now deceased)