Archive for July 29, 2008

Theoretically Speaking… (Addressing The Theory-Concept Issue In Public Speaking)

July 29, 2008

In one of the comments from my public speaking article was a question regarding the application of theories. I’ve decided to answer it here as one of the postings so that more information can be included. You can find the actual comments to my postings here.

Question: What if you are talking about theoretical subjects that we cannot apply in our life?

Answer: This marks the difference between a public speech and an academic or theoretical lecture.

A public speech is thus designed to help the audience understand the concepts better. The focus is upon the audience. Therefore while the original “raw” information can be highly theoretical, the speaker therefore uses the various “tools and forms of public speaking” such as metaphors, examples, analogies, comparisons, etc to help audience relate and where possible, apply.

For example, let’s take it that the topic is about ‘Cohomological Physics As Contrasted to the Eilenberg-Moore spectral sequence and supported by the analysis of quasi-isomorphism ”. (If you can make sense of this topic in its theoretical terms, please let me know)

Since the background scope of this talk is primarily designed for the public, the speaker will have to first understand the type of audience he is speaking to. This information is then followed by adjusting and refining his materials to fit the comprehension level of the audience.

He might hence have to the different tools and forms as highlighted previously into his speech, to make it more ‘layman’ and ‘digestible’ to the masses.

What then does it imply about public speaking?

This implies that speaking is both an art and a science. It is thus a form and reflection of the creativity of the speaker. It then becomes a challenge for the speaker to make it relevant and turn the concepts, not matter how theoretical, academic or abstract, into something that work and make sense for his audience.