Tips on oral communication
In various social situations communication occurs almost always. They mainly take place in two forms - written and oral. When we speak we communicate orally. Speaking occurs, again, in two forms- formal and informal. Informal speaking does not require any special attention. It is only when we are speaking formally, i.e. before an audience that we have to be careful and prepare our speech. It is learnt that Abraham Lincoln revised and adjusted at least nine times before delivering the famous Gettysburg Address.
What are the things or aspects of a good speech? How can we prepare ourselves to face an audience? In the first place it is necessary to consider and take into purview the audience. It is important that we assess the skill that is the language skill of the listener. It surely would be a mistake to address five year old children with big words and long sentences. Similarly, it would be embarrassing to address literate adults as though they were children and young learners. We must have an idea as to the level of the language skills of the listeners. This can be determined by considering the age, education and the intelligence of the listeners. When we are addressing young listeners we should maintain a controlled vocabulary. Such words ought to be used with which we think, the listeners are familiar. Also for young listeners who are learners too, the sentence structures should have a limited range. The process will change and develop as we move towards educated and intelligent grown-ups.
The next important thing to take into consideration is the knowledge and understanding of the subject by the audience. We must have an idea as to how much the listeners know about the subject. It is important they are made aware and a basic knowledge of the subject be imparted to them beforehand. Let us take an example. Suppose the subject is 'AIDS'. It is not mandatory that everyone in the audience is aware of the topic and its medical or pathological analysis. Though the subject mainly pertains to medical science, it is essential all should have an idea of it and be aware of the dangers that it can do. Hence the subject should be explained in simple terms for all to understand. Journalists who write for general public and professors who give lectures on various subjects have to keep this in their minds as part of their preparation. Writing long sentences or reading it aloud causes diverse and harmful results. It is difficult for any one to remember long tedious sentences. It is, therefore, advised to use short and meaningful sentences.
One last, but in no way least, aspect to be taken into consideration is the relationship the speaker has with the audience or the listeners. This relationship affects and frames the speaker's language. The audience may range from unknown people to very intimate and personally related people. Knowing the audience better offers the speaker a relaxed situation. The atmosphere becomes congenial and one comfortably proceeds to explain his subject more informally and yet informatively. While speaking before an audience whom we know or understand less, we have to be careful in using language and example that we offer. With practice and caution it is, however, possible to overcome the sense of 'alienity'. It is, therefore, advisable to measure the closeness and distance between the speaker and the audience. This will invariably help to determine the length of formality or informality the speaker will venture.
Keeping the above ideas in the mind will help communication to take place effectively and successfully. It will be only wise to remember that the audience is as important as the subject or topic to be communicated.
(Professor & Chairman
Department of English Bangladesh University)
Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio, replied:
"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."
--"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
--If A equals success, then the formula is _ A = _ X + _ Y + _ Z. _ X is work. _ Y is play. _ Z is keep your mouth shut.
--"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
-- "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible."
--"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."
--"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."