Differences between Public Speaking and Other Forms of Communication
It is important for you to understand the differences between oral and written presentations, and the differences between speeches and ordinary conversion. You are probably already aware of some of these differences through your own experiences of written and spoken communication. We include them here simply to draw your attention to them. See (section 3.41 and 3.4.2).
Difference between private and public speaking: Public speaking is to a general audience. Private speaking is to certain individuals.
Differences between Conversation and Public Speaking
Despite their similarities, public speaking and daily conversation are not identical. As the size of your audience grows, the manner in which you present the story will change. You will find yourself adapting to three major differences between conversation and public speaking. First of all, public speaking is more highly structured. It usually imposes strict time limitations on the speaker. In most cases, the situation does not allow listeners to interrupt with questions or commentary.
Therefore, public speaking is very much a one way communication. The speaker must accomplish her or his purpose in the speech itself. In preparing the speech, the speaker must anticipate questions that might arise in the minds of listeners and answer them. Consequently, public speaking demands much more detailed planning and preparation than ordinary conversation. Secondly, public speaking requires more formal language. Slang, jargon, and bad grammar have little place in public speeches. Even though a principal is very angry about the vandalism in school, he does not say, “We should send those idiots who vandalize the school property to hell.” Listeners react negatively to slang, jargon, or poor grammar, so speakers must polish their language and choose words for the greatest effect. Lastly, public speaking requires a different method of delivery.
When conversing informally, most people talk quietly, interject stock phrases such as “you know,” “it’s like,” and “really,” adopt a casual posture, and use what are called vocalised pauses. Effective public speakers, however, adjust their voices to be heard clearly throughout the audience. They assume a more erect posture. They avoid distracting mannerisms and verbal habits. In conclusion, with study and practice, you will be able to master these differences and expand your conversational skills into speechmaking. Public speaking is when you speak it out loud to the world. Private speaking is when you keep it to a group or a person you know.
The Difference between Oral Communication and Public Speaking
Public speaking is generally defined as speaking in front of a group, usually in an open setting. Oral communication is any form of speaking.
Ethics and Public Speaking
Have you ever thought about the implications of giving people inaccurate information on which to base important decisions or of persuading people to do something that could have an influence on the rest of their lives, or of denying them the right to express a point of view that differs from yours. You hear people say things like: “You can’t believe what he says – he’s a car salesman”, or “she’s an estate agent – she’ll say anything to make a sale”, or “you can’t discuss anything with him – he won’t let you get a word in edgeways”. In fact, we consider such behaviour to be unethical. In the same way that there are guidelines for ethical behaviour in other areas of life, so are there guidelines for ethical behaviour in public speaking.
Here, we have presented guidelines to evaluate the ethics of your behaviour as a public speaker. Make the questions relevant to you personally by putting yourself in the place of the listener in each case, and think about the possible consequences of a public speaker using unethical means to persuade you to make a decision that was not in your best interest. Let us study these guidelines that can facilitate the ethics of your behaviour as a public speaker:
Have I investigated the subject fully before expressing opinions about it?
This question relates to giving and receiving inaccurate information or faulty advice. For example, think of a union official explaining a new contract to workers. If the official does not fully understand the contents of the new contract, and its benefits and limitations, the workers will not obtain the information and advice they need to make an informed choice that could influence their future in the organisation.
You will probably find that it is easier to make listener ethics personally relevant to you because most of us are more in the audience than doing the speaking. Approach your study of listener ethics by, once again, providing concrete examples from your everyday experiences. Please note that the guidelines for listener ethics can be summarized into two broad categories:
- the obligation to give the speaker a fair hearing
- the obligation to evaluate the speaker’s message ethically.
Listening in the Public Speaking Context
This section focuses specifically on listening in the public speaking context, rather than on listening in the interpersonal context. Nevertheless, the knowledge you already have will make it easier to understand this section of the unit. For example, you may find that you can pay less attention to some subsection because you have studied them before but take note that most of the information is presented in a different way because of the emphasis on the public speaking context.
During the course of each day we are constantly called upon to listen in a variety of situations. We listen to the sounds of nature, to traffic noises, to music, to advertisements, to persuasive speeches from politicians, and to our family, friends and colleagues. In fact, studies show that we spend most of our communication time engaged in listening rather than in speaking.
However, we do not always listen as efficiently as we should. Test this statement out. Have you ever been lost because you did not follow the directions someone gave you correctly? Have you missed an appointment because you got there at the wrong time? Have you ever given inappropriate feedback because you were not listening to what was being said? When was the last time you jumped to a wrong conclusion or felt that you were misunderstood? All these situations involve your ability to listen attentively.
“Critical” in this context does not mean finding fault for the sake of finding fault. It means that, to assess a message, you should listen to both the positive points in a message and to its limitations or shortcomings. Most advertisements, for example, only stress the positive qualities of a product. In order to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the product – whether it is the right product for you – you have to listen for what is not explicitly stated in the advertisement. In other words, you have to “listen” for the shortcomings yourself in order to evaluate the product. “Evaluate” is about judgment – how you rate or assess the quality of something. For example:
is the knowledge conveyed by the speaker useful to you? Will you support the proposals recommended by the speaker? Why and how? The ability to listen critically is linked to how well you can evaluate your own and other people’s messages. Research has shown that learning to listen critically to other people’s speeches is one of the most effective ways of becoming more critical of your own oral presentations. This ability will go a long way towards helping you to speak in public with greater confidence.
Hearing and Listening
The reference to “deaf” ears brings us to the difference between hearing and listening. Make sure that you understand the following two points:
- while hearing is described as a passive process, while listening is the active process of interpreting sounds, that is, converting sounds into meaning in the mind.
- while we listen or give meaning to both the verbal part of the message and to the nonverbal part of the message.
Types of Listening
There are many names for different types of listening. Here is a collection of types and the different names that get ascribed to them, along with a brief description of each.
Active listening: Listening in a way that demonstrates interest and encourages continued speaking.
Appreciative listening: Looking for ways to accept and appreciate the other person through what they say. Seeking opportunity to praise. Alternatively listening to something for pleasure, such as to music.
Attentive listening: Listening obviously and carefully, showing attention.
Biased listening Listening through the filter of personal bias.
Casual listening: Listening without obviously showing attention. Actual attention may vary a lot.
Comprehension listening: Listening to understand. Seeking meaning (but little more).
Content listening: Listening to understand. Seeking meaning (but little more).
Critical listening: Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
Deep listening: Seeking to understand the person, their personality and their real and unspoken meanings and motivators.
Dialogic listening: Finding meaning through conversational exchange, asking for clarity and testing understanding.
Discriminative listening: Listening for something specific but nothing else (eg. a baby crying).
Empathetic listening: Seeking to understand what the other person is feeling. Demonstrating this empathy.
Evaluative listening: Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
False listening: Pretending to listen but actually spending more time thinking.
Full listening: Listening to understand. Seeking meaning.
High-integrity listening: Listening from a position of integrity and concern.
Inactive listening: Pretending to listen but actually spending more time thinking.
Informative listening: Listening to understand. Seeking meaning (but little more).
Initial listening: Listening at first then thinking about response and looking to interrupt.
Judgmental listening: Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.
Partial listening: Listening most of the time but also spending some time day-dreaming or thinking of a response.
Reflective listening: Listening, then reflecting back to the other person what they have said.
Relationship listening: Listening in order to support and develop a relationship with the other person.
Sympathetic listening: Listening with concern for the well-being of the other person.
Therapeutic listening: Seeking to understand what the other person is feeling. Demonstrating this empathy.
Total listening: Paying very close attention in active listening to what is said and the deeper meaning found through how it is said.
Whole-person listening: Seeking to understand the person, their personality and their real and unspoken meanings and motivators.