Speaking publicly requires more than courage and fluent English. Sometimes the addition of breeziness, humor, even silence can increase the impact of your argument. Experts at the 21st Century Cup shared their advice on making speeches a success.
Arthur McNeill, PhD (Question Master): Director of the center for language education and associate dean of the school of humanities and social science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
“A challenge for Chinese speakers is to make their speeches sound natural. When a speaker has spent many hours memorizing a text, it can be difficult to deliver it with a sense of spontaneity. And if a speaker is worried about recalling a memorized speech, there is a risk that the communication with the audience will be less direct and sincere. Audiences like speakers who give the impression they are enjoying themselves on the stage.”
Liu Dailin (Judge): Professor at the Open University of China and director of the Advisory Committee of Foreign Languages Teaching in Vocational Education of the Ministry of Education.
“Quite a number of contestants used quotations in their speeches. This is a very effective tool, but before quoting someone else’s words you must ensure you have fully understood their meaning. Only then can you include a quotation in your argument and deliver it in a persuasive manner that informs the audience.”
David Quartermain (Question Master): Deputy director of the MPI-Bell Centre of English at Macao Polytechnic Institute in China.
“A constant flow of words delivered in a monotonous tone is likely to send audience members to sleep. Keep them interested by varying the tone of your voice, the pitch and tempo.
Rui Chenggang and Charlotte MacInnis, both from CCTV, host the national competition on March 24 in Xiamen. Remember that you’re speaking to an audience. So create a relationship with your listeners by addressing them directly, using facial expressions or telling them a personal story. Pausing at the right moment can also be more effective than rushing straight into the next sentence. Besides, adding breaks gives you time to think about your arguments.”
“Humor and depth are both important for a successful speech. A good speech should have something that enlightens audience members and makes them laugh heartily.”