- Do you express your feelings of anger while speaking?
- Do you assume that others have the same thoughts as you do when you talk with them?
- Do you talk without any preparation or consideration?
- Do you belittle yourself excessively?
- Do you monopolize the conversation without giving others a chance to speak?
- Do you repeat words that have no actual meaning?
- Do you use hypothetical expressions often?
How many times did you answer "Yes" to the questions above? If you have any of the habits they describe, you may need to work on your speaking skills.
People have long tried to look good to attract other people's interest. However, now the ability to speak well has also become an important criterion used by many to judge attractiveness. This new trend has become especially prevalent among university students. So, recently the number of private speech institutions has sharply increased and various speech clubs have become popular around campus.
Ewha Debating Society (EDiS) is one of those examples. EDiS holds regular sessions every week, and practice thinking and orating critically and persuasively. Na Young-hui (International Studies, 2), who is a member of EDiS, said she joined the club because she was attracted to the academic dynamism and witty delivery when a debater speaks on the podium. "Debaters naturally learn to overcome stage fright. In addition, because you have to prepare your speech within 15 to 30 minutes' time, you practice efficient time management, teamwork and lenient correspondence to an impromptu challenge. Keeping up with the current affairs, competing and befriending debaters all around the world at the same time are other merits of debate that can never be overlooked. Debate is often called an intellectual sport, and it can teach you how to effectively communicate your logic, humor and intelligence to the audience." Moreover, classes for developing speaking skills have been opened for students at universities nationwide. Sogang University and Sungkyunkwan University have organized such classes as a requirement for graduation and at Yonsei University, speech classes fill up the minute they open because there are so many applicants.
Ahn Seo-hee (English Lang. & Lit., 2), who took Korean and Writing last semester, said "The class was somewhat demanding but I think I have not studied in vain. I learned how to organize my thoughts together and deliver them to others effectively. I believe this is very important because to know is one thing, to speak is quite another." Another student Choi Ji-eun (English Lang. & Lit., 2) said, unlike other classes, speech classes allow more communication among students and able us to think logically and creatively. "I think these classes induce students to develop their speaking abilities and practice them as well." Then what is causing people to be so eager about becoming an eloquent speaker?
Professor Yu Sae-kyung (Journalism) says the cause of this trend is the development of various mass media. For instance, the Internet provides more chances for people to express their opinions than they had before and these ideas also form public opinion because they spread instantly.
Professor Lee Young-ae (Psychology) says, "Communicating has long been recognized as a significant factor in maintaining relationships, and interviews are given a great deal of weight in the job application process. Also the tendency for needing to do presentations at work has increased." But even if you fall under the category of "bad public speaker," based on the questions above, you don't have to worry too much. If you are concerned about your speaking ability, try following three steps recommended by Choi Byun-hak, an entertainer famous for his brilliant conversational skills. They are easier than you may think. First, speak loudly. Second, try to organize your thoughts. Third, make yourself amusing to others. If your voice is loud and your thoughts are well organized, you will be more persuasive and reasonable. And if you can season your conversation with a sense of humor you will get more attention from people. However, you must not forget the fact that a good speaker always takes others's feelings into consideration and is a keen observer of his or her counterparts's response.
On the other hand, try to avoid being a speaker who drives other people away. People who talk without a pause, chatter about their private life when, actually, no one is concerned, chews others's ears off without any point, or badmouth others are some examples of unwelcome speakers.
Professor Rha Eun-jean (Korean Lang. & Lit.) advises those with poor speaking skills, to always be aware of the speaking situation. By understanding the situation and grasping the point, you can lead the conversation. "Making complete sentences and pronouncing every word correctly and clearly are also important. You should consciously pay attention to these while you speak," she adds.