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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

0010-ETIQUETTE OF HUMAN RELATIONS (PART III)

Lecture to 4th year medical students at the Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Malaysia 14th October 2000 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.

 

18.2.4 COMMUNICATION

A. NATURE OF COMMUNICATION

What is communication?: Communication is transfer of information from one communicator to another through the use of symbols. The meaning behind the symbols is interpreted subjectively by the recipient. Humans have the most advanced form of communication. They communicate in different languages and in various forms. You may communicate consciously or unconsciously. Communication may be verbal (oral or written) or non-verbal (body language & appearance). The elements of communication are: the sender. The message, the medium, the receiver, and feedback. The functions of communication are: informing,  controlling, expressing emotions, and motivating.


Communication and leadership: Communication is an essential leadership function. Leadership can be looked at as communication to modify the attitudes and behaviors of others in order to meet group goals and needs. Communication failure rapidly leads to leadership and organizational failure.

 

Types of communication: Conscious communication is planned and the communicator is aware of the message. Unconscious communication is not planned and the communicator is not aware of the message. It may not even be verbal, it may use body language. Verbal communication, oral or written, uses words as communication symbols. Non-verbal communication conveys ideas without the use of words. Non-verbal communication can take the following forms: body language, physical appearance (hair, nails, cleanliness, and wardrobe), manner of greeting (voice, hand-shake, smile), image/impressions (public speaking, letters, faxes, behavior in public, behavior in crisis, quality of work delivered).

 

Language and communication: The structure of human language and its use in communication is the object of many disciplines of research and study. Phonology is  the study of the pattern of sounds, pronunciations, and intonation. Syntax is how words are arranged in phrases and sentences. Semantics is meaning of words and sentences . Pragmatics is interpreting language according to social and contextual factors. Much is now known about human language. The simple fact however remains that the language is exceedingly complex.

 

Reception of communication: Any communication is not received as it is transmitted. It is perceived instead. Perception is organizing and interpreting incoming information. Perception is selective being influenced by environment, background knowledge, and background attitudes. Thus the same information may elicit different perceptions in different people.

 

Communication channels: Communication channels may be personal static such as a letter, impersonal static such as flyers, direct interaction such as face-to-face discussions, and indirect interaction such as a telephone conversation.

 

B. COMMUNICATION PROCESS

Communication process: A communication process starts with conceptualization of the ideas to be communicated. The ideas or message are then encoded, put in a transmissible form. The message is then transmitted and is received. The receiver decodes or interprets the message before understanding it and taking action on it. The process is completed by feedback from the recipient to the sender. Communication is a circular process involving a feed-back loop. Every communicator must monitor the feed-back to make sure that the communication process is effective. There is a need for further research in human communication. Much remains to be learned about communication. It is a complex phenomenon. It is not confined to humans; other animals do communicate. It may not be confined to the 5-6 human senses that we know. Communication with the unconscious mind is little understood.

 

Irreversibility of communication: Communication is irreversible; every communication has a lasting impact. Think before you communicate. A negative impact can never be fully wiped out by later retraction or correction. A lingering negativity, however small, always persists. You should be very careful and prudent in selecting the information communicated, the target of the communication, the timing and circumstances of the communication to make sure the impact is positive.

 

The power of words: The terminology used restricts and determines the limits of the thought process. It is therefore necessary to stick to the terminology of the Qur'an in our communication. New terminologies should be developed and understood in the same context. Use of foreign terminology either directly or in translation leads to confusion in thought to the uninitiated.

 

Use of appropriate language in communication: The language used varies by intimacy, professional circles, age group, and gender. When communicating make sure you use language appropriate to the communication situation. It is not hypocrisy of pretension to communicate to different people in different ways. It is a great mistake to communicate with everybody in the same way forgetting their special background and peculiarities.

 

Precise communication: Communication must be precise to be useful. Precision indicates that the mind is active and is dynamic. Precision indicates that the communicator has a definite communication objective. There is non need to use more words than necessary once the defined objective has been conveyed. Verbosity not only wastes time but creates a mistrust for the speaker in the minds of the listeners. You can always improve the precision and hence the effectiveness of your communication by training and experience.

 

Pleasant communication: Communication of pleasant information is different from communication bad news. The impact of the information depends on how it is communicated. Misuse of even one word or symbol can change the content and impact of communication. Communication must be pleasant in order to be absorbed and appreciated. Good and positive words are more effective. A good disposition, friendly greetings, smiling, shaking hands, all help the communication process. The voice should be pleasant and convey warmth and friendliness.

 

Humor in communication: A sense of humor helps communication. You must however know where to draw the line. Too much or inappropriate humor indicates lack of seriousness and is negative. Humor usually involves laughing at human follies better yours or anonymous but not the recipient of your communication. Never laugh at anyone however good the justification. A sense of humor can get you out of a difficult situation. It can disarm an angry person. A person who insults or puts you down can be disarmed by an appropriate joke.

 

Personality and social intercourse: Your communication style reflects your basic personality. You may learn a lot about improving your communication style. Never try to develop a phoney personality. Be genuine and be yourself. Communication is the basis of social intercourse and the overall functioning of society. A good word is charity. Say good or keep quiet. Avoid bad words. Use polite words even with people who have done wrong to you. Always have a personal touch.

 

Degradation of information quality: Content of communication is degraded as it is passed from one person to another because of the increase of the noise component and the decrease of the information content. Noise refers to those factors that distort the intended message.

 

Different understanding, perceptions and behaviors: A receiver of information may benefit more than transmitter: The receiver of a message may understand it at a deeper level and benefit from it than the messenger. Behavior is the result of perception which in turn depends on selection and interpretation of information. The same information can elicit different behaviors in different individuals depending on different perceptions. Background knowledge, attitudes, and environment affect the way the recipient perceives and interprets information.

 

Communication technology: Communication is changing with technological advancements and leaders have to face new challenges every day. Information overload is a problem today; you must guard against it by having clear objectives and knowing what information you need to perform your work well.

 

Barriers to effective communications: The following are common barriers to effective communication: prejudgment before communication, differences between communicators (self-image, status, roles, personality, cognitive ability, physical situation, social status, culture, vocabulary, and language), distractions, emotional resistance to being on the receiving end, time constraints, poor listening, poor speech, bad timing, and unsuitable circumstances. Other causes of communication failure are: multiple meanings of words, information overlord, verbosity, value judgment, and filtering. Prejudgment is one of the most serious causes of failure to communicate. As recipient of communication you must avoid assumptions and pre-judgments. Listen to the data and then judge. Cross-check information to be able to reach right conclusions.

 

C. COMMUNICATION IN SMALL GROUPS

Face to face communication is unique: Face-to-face communication is usually the best form of communication because of immediate feedback. Important messages should be both oral and written. Writing never conveys fully what is conveyed by direct face-face interaction. In a face to face situation the recipient is able to evaluate the honesty of the speaker by carefully observing behavior. 

 

Believable communication: Some communication is credible and is believable. Some other lacks power and conviction. There are approaches than can enable you have believable communication. Own up your positions by not being afraid to stick out your neck and taking a position. Be emotionally honest such that your outward emotions reflect your inner feelings. This however does not mean that you should display aggression when angry. Islam teaches us to control our aggressive instincts. Be focussed in your communication, an indication that you have an objective. Try not to be selfish in your communication by avoiding making your person and your concern the center of all communication. Give others a chance also. Be evidence-oriented and always concentrate on facts and avoid speculative talk. Be respectful towards others and make sure your level of intimacy is appropriate for the person you are communicating with.

 

Successful oral communication: Measures can be taken to improve individual communication. These require training and constant practice. Success of oral communication (speaking and listening) is affected by language use, voice and inflexion, speed and volume, periods of silence, active listening, and body language. For successful communication speak clearly, be specific, objective, repeat to ensure understanding, and ask for feedback. Make sure your have clarity of speech to be understood by trying to speak clearly. Be concise and specific. Focus on the topic of discussion. Do not say too much and thus create an information overload. Repeat yourself for emphasis as well as clarity and make sure you are understood. Use simple but precise language. Repeat to ensure understanding. Base your communication on objective facts. Feedback is necessary to ensure that your message is going through. Watch for, ask for, and welcome feed-back. Take the initiative to ask questions to make sure you are understood. Listen more than you talk. Do not talk continuously, pause for questions and comments. Stop talking so that moments of silence may make the message sink in. Communication with people you know already or those who are close to you is likely to be more successful. Choose the time of communication carefully. People who are in a hurry or are engaged in another activity will not listen to you with attention. Your pitch, voice inflections, volume, and speed must be appropriate for the listener, the type of message, and the circumstances. The speed of conversation is important. Too rapid is difficult to follow. Too slow is boring and the listener's mind to wander off. Learn to use body language to enhance your verbal communication and make sure that the verbal and non-verbal communication cues are coordinated and are not contradictory. Be very careful about non-verbal communication. Your body language and appearance make statements about you. The message conveyed by body language may support or contradict that conveyed verbally. The body language message is more believable.

 

Using the telephone: When using the telephone, start with a pleasant but short greeting. Establish rapport immediately. Project a positive and credible image at the beginning; this will facilitate further conversation. Speak with a powerful and confident voice. Sound interested and motivated. Be brief and get to the point immediately. Pause and allow for responses. There are words and expressions used in face-to-face communication that will lead to misunderstandings in a telephone conversation because there is no supporting body language. Train yourself to signal that you want to end the conversation without offending your listener. You must learn technics appropriate to your culture of cutting off a rambling caller tactfully. When an angry, aggressive, and obnoxious person calls you, be careful not to get emotional. Listen him out and ask clarifying questions to understand his motives then act appropriately. It is always better to end such a talk quickly and plan a follow-up at a later time when the caller may be in a better emotional situation.

 

Difficult circumstances: Communication in difficult circumstances requires care, special tact, and knowledge. For example interviewing a new employee, informing an employee that he has been dismissed from work, disciplining a poorly-performing employee, termination of an employee, and the exit interview require tact to make sure the message is delivered but that the encounter does not become emotionally charged or even violent. It is very important to understand that in such circumstances you must separate the person from the problem. You attack the problem and solve it without attacking or in any way diminishing the dignity of the human even if he or she be at fault and common sense tells us that humiliating treatment is deserved

 

Careless talk: Communication becomes careless when Avoid careless talk. It is better to keep quiet than to say something that is wrong, offensive, or misleading. Not every correct things should be said. There are things that can confuse some people in some situations; these are better left unsaid.

 

Arguing your case: When arguing your case, start by establishing some common ground on which to build. Use only logical reasoning and avoid being emotional. If you have strong arguments be careful not to prove anyone a fool. That is the quickest way to lose an argument. Do not be defensive. Try to show advantages for others in agreeing with you. Plan: why? what? who to argue with? how? Choose the time carefully. Discuss with the aim of reaching agreement. Define area of disagreement. Watch for feedback. Do not talk about subjects you do not know (al imran:66). Concentrate, listen well, give undivided attention, paraphrase what others say to show you respect them, and be polite. Be calm, sympathetic, kind, and lower your voice. Avoid words that hurt. Do not be diverted to branches. Do not prejudge or judge hastily. Do not stereotype. Be brief and concise

 

THE ART OF LISTENING

Listening: Listening activity involves comprehension and 3 transactional processes (direct feed-back, indirect feed-back, and delayed feed-back). Listening can be active or passive. In active listening the listener shows obvious interest and asks questions. An active listener must ask questions to understand. The questions should seek clarifications or additional information. Questions that pre-empt the speaker or that are hypothetical should be avoided. Questions remove ambiguity and create clarity. The speaker can not know whether a passive listener is following or not. Listening can be empathic or critical. Empathic listening could be active or passive. Critical listening involves appreciation and discrimination and is always active.

 

Improving listening: Improve your listening skills in face-to-face communication. Analyze your listening behavior, analyze the speaker’s style and analyze the message and see how they relate to your listening behavior. The following behaviours or attributes of the speaker can improve listening:: appropriate rate of speaking, fluency, visibility, credibility, likability, and similarity in values with listeners. The message can encourage better listening if it is clear, organized, and is captive. As a listener you can improve your listening in various ways. Talk less and listen more. Clear your mind of other matters before start of the conversation and give undivided attention to the speaker. Let the speaker know you are listening. Write notes. Ask open-ended questions for clarification and also for encouragement of the speaker. Give feed-back. Summarize or paraphrase some of what the speaker says. Be open-minded and not judgmental. While listening avoid the mistake confusing content with feelings. Separate and deal with each accordingly knowing that each is important. Do not verbally or by use of body language show the speaker that he is ignorant or crazy. Do not be too argumentative even if you do not agree with the speaker. Listen, then think, then respond, and then comprehend.

 

Barriers to effective listening: The following are barriers to effective listening: weak extrinsic motivation, personal constraints, environmental constraints, and poor timing of the message. Whenever any of these situations arise, it is better to stop the communication process in a polite non-offensive way and resume at some other time.

 

ETIQUETTE OF THE MAJLIS

On the first meeting: The first impressions that people get about you on first meeting are lasting. Make sure you project a positive but true image of yourself. Take care of your physical appearance. Your hair must be combed well, the nails clipped, your clothes and face clean and appropriate. Your greetings must exude warmth and confidence. Eye contact with those of the same gender enhances communication. Before starting communication in small groups you can do somethings that facilitate the process: Greetings, shaking hands, standing up as a sign of respect, kissing, and embracing. Take the initiative to greet or shake hands first. Be personal and informal; the personal touch has a lasting impact. Meet others with a cheerful countenance and maintain it throughout the communication process. Express emotions and love for your partners.

 

Being in a group: When in a group gathering always talk about Allah. Try to always sit and talk with the pious. Do not exclude the weak and the poor from your gatherings. When sitting in a group, do not ignore anyone. People hate being ignored. Try to involve everybody in the conversation. You can not engage in secret talks in the presence of others. You should also not use a language unknown by some of the people in the group. Be kind and generous to the young and respectful to the elderly. Never embarrass anyone in a gathering. Always pray for those who say or do something good. Make a dua at the end of the gathering. When sitting in a gathering, give place to the newcomers and let them feel welcome. The newcomer should also avoid displacing anyone. it is better he sits even at the end.

 

D. PUBLIC SPEAKING

PUBLIC SPEAKING: NATURE AND CHARACTERISTICS

Purpose of public speaking: Public speaking serves several purposes that help in leadership situations: informing, entertaining, inspiring, convincing, motivating, teaching, training, and convincing. Speech can be used to define issues and bring about a change

 

Model of public speaking: Speaker. Message. Situation. Feed-back. Listeners

 

Impact of public0 speaking: Public speeches make a major impact if made well. Speaking is metaphorically a type of magic.

 

Fear of public speaking: Very few people are gifted speakers. Many people are afraid of public speaking. With good preparation, practice, and building self-confidence, you can overcome your stage fright. Stop being pessimistic. Do not procrastinate. If you have a speaking engagement prepare early. Train in speech-making. Taking care of your physical appearance builds your self-confidence.

 

Factors of success in public speaking: Success of public speaking is affected by the speaker, the delivery technic, the message, and the audience.

 

The speaker: The speaker must have integrity, knowledge, positive attitude, sensitivity to the audience and the situation, oral skills, self-confidence and self-control. A successful speaker must have a purpose. Repeat of some one else's great speech verbatim may turn out to be a dismal failure. A tired exhausted speaker with a well-prepared speech may not do as well as one in good mood. You may be a poor speaker because of lack of commitment to the topic though it may be well prepared. As the speaker you must be in control. Acknowledge tension as a normal phenomenon. You should remember that tension reduces as you start speaking. When tense think about things that interest you. You must be yourself and avoid an artificial disposition. Look at the audience. Establish eye contact. Communicate with both body and voice. As a speaker you must have interest and commitment to what you are communicating to talk well about it. You must in short be sincere and real. A good message delivered with superb technique but with no sincerity may leave the audience unimpressed. The audience can feel the speaker's sincerity and attune to him. You must be able to establish your credibility for your message to have an impact. The physical appearance, posture, gestures, movements and voice quality establish credibility and determine the success of the delivery. They should be appropriate to the audience being addressed and must fulfill the audience’s expectations. As a speaker you must understand that your appearance has a big impact on the audience; they may judge you even before hearing you. Dress appropriately. Maintain proper posture. Use natural gestures, maintain eye contact with the audience and avoid bad mannerisms such as fidgeting, meaningless movements, licking lips, picking your nose etc. Your voice must be confident, mature, and serious. You must appear accessible, be sincere and genuine, and be enthusiastic. Speak as long as there is interest. Do not bore the audience. Watch out for signs of audience disinterest such as sleeping, yawning, or walking out. Cut your talk short if the audience is clearly not interested. Learn from the current speech to improve the next one.

 

Audience: A great speech to one audience may bore another to sleep.  You may have a good topic and deliver it is a masterful fashion to an uninterested audience. A less well-prepared speech delivered in less than perfect style may go well with a positive and expectant audience. The speech must be related to the audience, the speaker, and the topic. The speech must be adapted to the audience as individuals and as a group. Adapting a speech to an audience does not mean pandering to their vanities. The audience benefit depends on: purpose of listening, knowledge of the subject, listening skills, and attitudes. As a speaker you must choose your audience carefully. There is no point in speaking to an audience you know is not interested. If you are in the audience you must know that listening is more than hearing. Listen for ideas and not words. Take notes. Suspend judgment. Advance publicity can increase audience interest. The publicity could define who can benefit from the speech so that people who would otherwise be bored do not turn up

 

Message: Three parameters concern the message: content, structure, and style. You can learn a lot of technics of speaking effectively, being interesting and captivating the audience. All of these are necessary but can never be a substitute for substance. You must have a useful message to communicate to others. Each speech must have a clear mission. Do not talk for the sake of talking. Talk if you have something to achieve. A captivating title must show benefit to the audience. It must reflect objectives relevant to them. It must deal with real problems and must suggest solutions. It must be action-oriented, easy to remember titles that stimulate the imagination, phrased in a 'catchy' way attract audiences. Good preparation is always the key to success. There is no short-cut substitute to knowledge of the subject material to be presented. You must demonstrate that you are the expert. Do not exaggerate. Be honest about limitations in your knowledge. Make sure you tell the audience what are facts, what are opinions, and what are ideas or theories. The message must be innovative and creative.

 

Channels: Verbal. Visual. Pictorial

 

Situations: Physical setting. Social context

 

Short and simple speeches: A good speech is usually simple, short, and to the point. The importance of the message conveyed can not be judged by the length of time it took to convey it. Use repetition instead of giving too much information. Do not overlord the audience with information. Concentrate on a few main points but present them well and effectively

 

Sincerity: Professional speakers and politicians tell the audience what the audience wants to hear and sometimes get away with it. Specific packaging or customizing a speech is of paramount importance to them. You are not in that league. You may only customize the delivery techniques, the intellectual level, or even content of the message. You however can never compromise the truth just to please the audience. You are a leader and the audience are followers. It is a failure of the leadership process if you tell then what pleases their ears instead of talking as a leader and showing them the way ahead. Pleasing audiences is the work of performers and entertainers. Body language such as hand gestures can be put to good use but could also be misused with negative impact.

 

PUBLIC SPEAKING: PREPARATION AND DELIVERY

Preparation: Preparing a good speech takes time and effort. Some estimate that one minute of speaking requires one hour of preparation. Familiarity with the subject matter or experience in delivering similar speeches help reduce the time of preparation. Start by planning a time-table and setting specific goals. The following are steps in speech preparation: selecting and narrowing down the subject, determining the general and specific purposes, determining the central idea, analyzing the audience and the occasion, gathering material for the speech, making an outline, and practising the speech. Prepare an outline dividing your presentation into three parts: introduction, body and conclusion.

 

Topic: Narrowing a topic involves selecting 2-3 points that you can discuss well in the time allocated. You must have the purpose of the speech very clear in your mind. Choose a title for the speech that is relevant to you, the audience and the occasion. The title should be provocative and brief. When planning a speech start by deciding what you will speak on. Choose what to talk about being guided by subjects you know about, ideas you believe in, or what interests you and the audience. Audience interest is evoked by: concerns over health, security or happiness; solutions to recognized problems; controversy of conflict, a subject appropriate to the occasion.

 

Introduction: The introduction is an overview of the speech. It is concise. It raises interest and expectations. You must preview background, special terms, and key points at the start. Plan to capture audience interest at the start or risk losing it forever. Humor is one way of capturing audience interest. Other methods are: starting with questions, telling stories, anecdotes, and personal experiences

 

Body: In structuring the body, outline your ideas. The following approaches may be used in outlining: chronology, questions (what?, where?, how?, when?), cause and effect, narration, process, definition, classification, analogies, illustrations, problem-solving scenarios, deductive logic (general to specific), inductive logic (specific to general), time and place characteristics. A thesis must be developed. The thesis statement is the controlling idea, the central theme of the speech. It must be a single declarative sentence. Since it sets the cue for the whole speech, it should be presented early in the speech. Ideas must be organized as main points and linking ideas or transitions from one idea to another must be included for smooth flow of the speech. The language must be clear and appropriate for the topic, situation, and audience.

 

Conclusion: The conclusion must summarize the material and end with humility. A good conclusion summarizes the key ideas, gives a sense of completeness, and appeals to the audience.

 

Supporting material for a speech: The best speeches are those that are original ie the central ideas are from the speaker. Supporting material is needed to make the speech more effective. Examples of support material include: opinions (public or expert), specific examples or instances, comparisons, and statistics. The speaker must research to obtain support material. The following are possible sources of library support material: books, magazines, periodicals, government documents, newspapers, computer data-bases.  Non-library sources include: interviews,...

 

Rehearsal: Rehearsing a speech before delivery increases the speaker's confidence, helps find difficult parts, assists in identifying mistakes, and helps time the duration of the speech. Rehearsal helps you modulate your voice, improve your gestures, and check visual aids. The most important benefit from rehearsing is the feeling of self-confidence in the knowledge that you have prepared well and have rehearsed and are sure you can deliver a good speech. The following are methods of rehearsal that can be used: reciting aloud, using a tape recorder, silently talking to yourself,

 

Delivery: Delivery involves both physical and vocal aspects. The physical aspects include: gestures, posture, facial expression. The vocal aspects include: pitch, volume, rate, fluency, and pronunciation. A good presentation must be natural, dynamic, articulate, and displays emotion. As a speaker you must aim at getting and maintaining audience interest. You must capture the attention of the audience from the start if you are to keep it through the speech. Make your topic specific and unique. Either establish yourself as an authority on the topic or quote authorities. To keep the audience interest, tell them what interests them but not in a hypocritical way. Do not pander to their vanities. You must convey your message even if you differ from them. Show interest in your audience by mentioning facts that indicate you did take the trouble to find out about them. The following also help maintain audience interest: activity, reality, proximity, familiarity, novelty, suspense, conflict, humor, issues that affect vested interests. Reinforce and repeat your main points throughout the presentation.  Be human, personal and accessible. Try to link your personal experiences with the presentation. When speaking, define technical terms and avoid jargon as much as possible. Use anecdotes & examples, give details, speak as if you are in conversation, use simple everyday language. Use natural gestures and maintain eye contact. Talk only when there is interest. Stop talking as soon as there is a distraction.

 

Powerless talk: Avoid powerless talk that loses you audience interest. Powerless talk makes you lose authority and credibility in front of the audience. Matters may become so bad that they ask themselves even why you came to talk to them at all! Do not hesitate. Hesitation indicates lack of knowledge or confidence. Do not hedge by using phrases like 'I guess' or 'I think'. Do not use tag questions like 'isn't it?' or 'wouldn't it?'. Do not make any disclaimers like 'I am not the most knowledgeable on this topic', 'I did not prepare'. Do not make any excuses like 'I was not the scheduled speaker; I am substituting', 'I do not know the subject well' etc

 

Methods of presentation: Choose a method of presentation (memory, reading manuscript, ex-tempore, impromptu) and rehearse. Try to personalize the delivery method. Know what works best for you. The most effective delivery would be from memory. There is however a high risk of being confused, forgetting some parts, or saying things you did not plan to say. The very effort of memorizing a speech is also not easy. Memorization is appropriate for short oft-repeated speeches such as election campaign speeches or toasting. Success requires constant practice. It is a good precaution to keep a piece of paper in case you get stuck. Use of a manuscript is precise but interferes with active interaction with the audience and could be boring.  Use a written speech should be used only for the most important and sensitive matters especially when details are important. Try to memorize certain sections and do not read every word. Try to speak in as natural a way as is possible. The favored delivery is ex-tempore. Extempore delivery uses notes as points to guide the speaker and this is the best. You should have a manuscript with which you are very familiar but you however speak from notes and outlines. Direct quotes should be written out in full to avoid making mistakes. Practice is needed for a perfect delivery. There is no impromptu speech. What does for impromptu speech has usually been planned and thought about a long time ago and is not spontaneous to the speaker. An impromptu presentation must be brief. Essentially it involves stating a main idea, developing an argument, and stating a conclusion. Practice is mandatory. Impromptu delivery should be avoided except for very experienced speakers who are very knowledgeable about the subject and have delivered a similar speech before.

 

Increasing retention: Try to make your speech unique so that it can be remembered. The following can be used to increase retention: audio-visuals, repetition, periods of silence to allow internalization, audience participation. The following speech characteristics also help retention: short and simple, use of examples and stories to illustrate, Use of acronyms, memorable quotes, and illustrations, appropriate language use. The following speaker characteristics help retention: sincerity, appropriate body language, and emotion

 

Audio visuals: The following audio-visuals can be used: hand-outs, charts, maps, models and exhibits, chalk-board, slides and the over-head projector, computer graphics, and personal demonstrations by the speaker. When using audio-visuals be careful that they do not overwhelm you and your message. Do not be so pre-occupied with the A_V that you forget to focus on the audience. The A-V must be displayed such that the audience can see it clearly

 

Use of language: The following measures help improve language use. Words must be used parsimoniously. Be accurate in your word use. Choose words carefully. Avoid loaded words, slang and colloquial expressions. Use vivid language by employing analogies, allusions, alliterations, parallelisms, metaphors, and similes. Verbosity and pompous language should be avoided. Your language must be clear. Use appropriate abstract or concrete language depending on the audience and the topic. Your voice must be active.

 

Emotion: Speaking with emotion captivates the audience. They may share in the emotion. However too much emotionalism may be negative. You must know the audience and its culture. Some cultures are associated with high emotions whereas others are more subdued. The language employed must be appropriate to the emotional level. The emotion must be appropriate to the subject of discussion and to the audience.

 

Examples: Liberal use of relevant examples helps illustrate points and also increase retention. The examples must be relevant and not offensive. The example must not become a point if controversy or introduce a new idea that distracts from the topic

 

Stories: A story especially if humorous helps understanding and retention. The story helps build a visual image; visual images are better retained. The story should be simple and brief and should not itself become the focus of interest. The story should be relevant to the speech and should only emphasize one of the points already made. The story should present only one non-controversial idea that does not allow more than one interpretation. The standard used is that any story told in a speech should be understood by a child even before the telling is completed.

 

Audience problems: The following are common audience problems: heckling, experts in the audience, hostility by the audience, people speaking among themselves. You must learn how to deal with problems from the audience firmly and tactfully. Stay cool when you are heckled. Try to understand the motivations of the heckler. In most cases they want to draw attention to themselves. Sometimes they want to provoke you to react in a way that will reflect negatively on you and the message you are trying to convey. Acknowledge people in the audience who may be experts on the topic and do not try to compete with them. When you make mistakes admit them immediately and even joke about them. If the audience is hostile, listen and ask polite questions to understand the motivation. Try to find some areas of agreement and build on them. It is better to end the speech early and in an organized way than to continue speaking to a hostile audience and may be end in an acrimonious brawl. There may be people in the audience who want to draw attention to themselves by asking too many questions or making too many comments. They need to be handled with tact. Accommodate them however be firm and polite in stopping their interruptions. Be prepared to interrupt your speech for a good reason. Late comers should not interrupt the speech. When people in the audience are talking among themselves, try to show them you notice like looking at them. If this does not help, draw them into the process by asking them direct questions. It sometimes helps to stop speaking until the noise abates. You must maintain your gaze at them so that they realize that they are the cause of the silence.

 

Responding to comments and questions: Comments could be positive or negative. The comment must be related to the topic. Make sure comments are not too long or themselves turn into mini-speeches. Questions may be framed to seek information or to express disagreement. Answering questions successfully is an art. It involves ability to empathize with the questioner and showing them you understand them. You must think fast on your feet. The best technic is to anticipate questions and prepare for them. Make it a point to respond to every question and comment. Answer only those questions that are related to the topic. Politely reject those that are not related. Listen very carefully to questions. Ask to clarify. Rephrase the question and inquire from the questioner whether you have rephrased the question right. Answer briefly. Respond to the entire audience and not only the questioner. You may sometimes give more information than was asked for to pre-empt similar questions. Be prepared for follow-up questions. Be tactful in answering questions. Do not be defensive.

 

Physical facilities and arrangements: As a speaker you should take interest in the physical arrangement of the hall. An uncomfortable atmosphere interferes with the success of the speech. If people come late, they should be accommodated as much as possible. They however should not try to force a person who came early to give up a seat.

 

Emergency and panic situations: Every public speaker will sooner or later run into a crisis and emergency situation. Examples of such situations are: losing your notes, the microphone does not work or has annoying acoustic feed-back, slides are out of order etc. The problems may be more serious. You may have prepared a speech for a specific audience and you are surprised by a completely different audience. The featured speaker may be late or not turn up altogether. The first rule is that you do not panic. While sorting yourself out you must make light of the situation. An appropriate joke may relieve the tension. Study the situation carefully and take the appropriate measure.

 

E. EFFECTIVE WRITING

Importance of writing: This chapter deals with writing letters, internal memos, reports, and papers. Clear writing reflects clear thinking...Written communication projects image about the writer. Written communication leaves a permanent record

 

Precise and brief writing: The aim of official writing is to express and not impress. Writing must be brief, precise, direct, forceful, accurate, and result-oriented. Long convoluted sentences should be abandoned; instead short powerful sentences should be used.

 

Simple language: Remember that some of your readers may not be subject specialists like you therefore do not use too much technical jargon

 

Believable communication: The following are characteristics of believable written communication: the writer owns his positions ie expresses his opinions and stands clearly and does not hide behind vague words and expressions, the writing must be emotionally honest, evidence-oriented, and directed at solving problems.

 

Two processes in writing: Creating. Revising

 

Purposive writing: Written communication must be purposive. Avoid no-results writing. Write to inform but not to impress. Each letter must be written with a specific purpose in mind. Letters are written for one of the following purposes: persuade, complain, reject, good will, ask for something, report, or propose.

 

Types of letters: Persuasive . Complaint . Reference . Rejection . Good will . Application . Reports . Proposals

 

Using faxes in communication: Do not send long faxes to people not expecting them. Provide your telephone and fax numbers on the cover sheet . Number pages . Treat incoming faxes as urgent . Do not fax sensitive information

 

Writing good memos: Ask yourself if the memo is necessary . What are the communication needs of the recipient?: approval - information . Be personal . What do I want to say? . End with good will . Politely mention what actions & responses you expect and when . Arrange ideas logically . Keep opening paragraph short . Vary length of subsequent paragraphs. Be consistent in organizing the memo. Do not communicate negative matters in writing

 

Writing good letters: The letter must be organized to show the date, name, address, and subject. The subject must be written upfront. A personal or spiritual salutation is necessary. The body should contain the message being communicated. The letter should have a polite and friendly conclusion. A letter should generally be no longer than 2 pages. Details can be attached as addenda instead of being put in the body of the letter. A check-list or readability, correctness of language and format, appropriateness, and thoughts should be used to check the letter before it is sent off. A letter must have a smooth flow of ideas...

 

Writing to difficult persons: When writing to difficult persons or about difficult subjects, you must aim at conveying the message without making the situation worse or creating new problems. Try to personalize the communication. Be positive. Avoid use of the first person because it sounds dictatorial. Do not explain negative news because that could lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations; just deliver the news and no more. Conclude with specific directions on what to do next.

 

Problems writers face: Blank page/writer’s block. Lack of motivation. Lack of perseverence. Fearing the reader. Lack of information. Fear of errors

 

Writer's block: Writer's block is common and should be dealt with forcefully. It is advisable to develop formats and formulas for writing usually undertaken.

 

Models of good writing: Reading good model letters helps you develop your style

 

Logic in writing: Logic whether inductive or deductive is used in producing precise effective writing. Writing is helped by thinking logically of blocks of ideas and then translating them into a document.

 

Writing papers: Quote or paraphrase source material if it is clearly not your thoughts and document carefully. Write a draft first. Divide the paper into introduction, body, and conclusion. The structure of the body: narrative, description, exemplification, process, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, classification/division, definition

 

Technical writing: Reports and manuals: Reports and manuals are more difficult to write than ordinary letters. Errors in them are of a worse consequences because many people and operations depend on them. They also require strict documentation: sources, lists, tables, figures, etc. Technical reports should be reader-friendly and avoid cliches and jargon that non-specialist readers do not understand. Reports have their own styles and formats designed with the end-user in mind. A report must have an executive summary. Important points must be emphasized. It must be organized in a logical order.

 

Revision and proofing: All documents must be proof-read. Proofing involves checking for: spelling, punctuation, grammar, style, syntax, data cross check

 

Writing by assistants: As a busy executive you can not find the time to write documents. You must rely on assistants to draft them. The assistants must learn your style so that their drafts are like yours.

 

Go to Part IV

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr October 2000