Speaking is a communication skill that enables a person to verbalize thoughts and ideas. There are two instances when such a skill is required and these are: interactive and semi-interactive. In the first instance (interactive), this would involve conversations with another person or group of persons whether face-to-face or over the phone, wherein there is an exchange of communication between two or more people.
In the second instance (semi-interactive), this happens when there is a speaker and an audience such as in the case of delivering a speech, wherein the speaker usually does all the talking, while the audience listens and analyzes the message, expressions, and body language of the speaker.
Importance of Speaking Skill
We have established the importance of communication skills in any and all aspects of our lives. What one needs to remember is that communication is a two-way process involving the speaker and the listener. Communication can only be considered effective if both aspects are achieved successfully.
Every single day, we are given opportunities to speak. At home, we interact with family members and neighbors. We ask driving directions from passersby. We converse with the waitress at the local pub. At work, we talk to colleagues and superiors. We discuss business issues and concerns during business meetings. We educate customers on products and services being offered. Indeed, such skill is being utilized anywhere and everywhere.
Now imagine if a person does not possess good speaking skills. It would be very difficult to express thoughts and ideas to others; it would be almost impossible to gain understanding from these people if we cannot even convey our message clearly and accurately.
People with below average communication skills, particularly speaking skills, will have difficulty presiding over gatherings, whether social, personal, or business-related. It is either that he does not know how to put his thoughts and ideas into words or he simply does not have enough confidence to speak in the presence of other people. Regardless of what may be the reason for this, it leads to one thing: ineffective communication. And a person who cannot communicate effectively would find it difficult to strike a good impression on others, especially on their superiors.
Assessment of Speaking Skill
In order to objectively assess one’s speaking skill, there has to be a basic understanding of the speaking assessment criteria, which are enumerated below. Gauge your speaking skill based on these.
• Pronunciation – This refers to the way each word is uttered correctly and clearly.
• Stressing and Intonation – This refers to how certain words and phrases are given emphasis, as well as the correct rise and fall of pitch.
• Correctness – This refers to grammar, syntax, and construction. These aspects need to be correctly used; errors and mistakes can give a negative impression on the listeners and create confusion.
• Vocabulary – This refers to the choice of words; the speaker must have a wide vocabulary to effectively verbalize thoughts and ideas.
• Voice Quality – Aside from the speaker’s physical appearance, the quality of his voice also affects the impression of the listener on him. The voice must be clear, crisp, and full because it is the medium by which the message is relayed to the listener.
• Fluency – This refers to the ability to use the required language in a manner that is smooth and spontaneous.
• Appropriateness – The speaker must be able to gauge the audience properly, in terms of what type of audience they are and match the message to this classification. For example, if the listener is a top-level executive, then the tone and content of the message should be appropriate to this person. Ideas and information must be relevant and interesting to the audience.
How to Enhance Speaking Skill
Oftentimes, speaking skill is poor because of one’s lack of self-confidence. Therefore, one of the best ways to enhance it is to gain confidence. Make an effort to speak up during gatherings, and practice speaking even at home so as to be able to improve on delivery.
One technique that usually works is by developing a can-do attitude and mindset. When given a responsibility to speak before a crowd or a VIP, envision this prior to the event itself. Visualize yourself speaking in front of these people, with you delivering your speech or message calmly and confidently. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do it just as well as anybody else can. Speaking is a skill, not a talent. It is a continuous process that can only be achieved with the right attitude and sufficient practice.