Monday, November 17, 2003

Speeches Must Be Short, Precise and Interesting

Many of us have experienced boring speeches given by ministers. Some are long winded, beating around the bush. Some speeches are given without theme and objective, let alone not relevant to the function the speaker is attending.

Therefore, it is not surprising that at most functions, the only one listening to the speeches is the young inexperience reporter. The senior ones would get the speaker’s text at the end of the speech. The rest of the audience are either dozing off, reading unrelated materials or playing with SMS.

VIPs who are invited to speak during functions are normally annoyed and irritated by the attitude of his or her audience for not paying attention. The organiser might be blamed for not telling the audience to behave themselves. True, being the guest, they might have the right to feel disappointed but they too, must find out the reasons why.

Most audience does not pay attention during speeches is due to the problem caused by the speakers themselves. Speakers make a lot of mistakes which put their audience to sleep. The common practice is to start off a speech with a long list of greetings and salutations. By the time he finishes his greeting list, almost half of the time allocated has been used up. Imagine if there were 5 speakers and 6 with the master of ceremony, and each one make a long list of greetings, how bored could one get into?

We should only specifically greet the guest of honour and the chairman or organiser before starting a speech. The rest of the audience, be they datuk or whatsoever, should only be greeted generally. The best way would be “ladies and gentlemen”. Unless those datuks feel that they are not gentlemen, they should be happy to be greeted that way.

Even though some datuks are very sensitive when their presence is not specifically acknowledged, the society must not let this practice been continued. Genuine datuks are normally humble and understanding. Only those ‘title-cazy’ datuks are sensitive. These bunch of datuks, are the one where their datukships are questionable. There is no reason why the society should pay respect to these commercial datuks.

Some ridiculous people even have three four titles attached to their name and expect all their titles to be mentioned. If we have a few of these people in a single function, how much more longer the time is needed to acknowledge them before a speech could begin?

In line with the call of Prime Minister to cut red-tape in government department, it is right to also give short greetings and go straight on to the content of the speech. This will surely improve on efficiency, save time and avoid being branded as a boring speaker.

Of course, speakers themselves, especially ministers and VIPs, must learn to give short, precise and interesting speeches. Being a minister or someone important, or even having the authority doesn’t necessary mean having automatic power to capture the audience’s attention. Attention during speeches, is like respect. It ought to be earned and not force upon. If a speech is read like a primary school student, then the speaker (reader) must be prepared more audience falling asleep.

A good speaker interacts with his audience, speaks with sincerity, keeps to its objective and delivers with good intonation.

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