Secrets give great speeches


By Joe Palmer

Ask any graduate what their least favorite course was at NIU and you’ll often hear the same name repeated: COMS 100.

The same, however, can be said of their favorite course. COMS 100 is the most universal of general education courses, and it is usually one of the most divisive of all NIU experiences. Whether you love speeches or can’t handle the idea of a crowd, here are some useful speech tips that COMS 100 professors don’t want you to know:

1) Don’t take yourself too seriously. No speech is ever that important; no situation is ever that big-time. Whether it’s a toast at a wedding or the State of the Union, a speech is just a speech. You’ll live.

2) A speech is just a conversation with the voices in your head. Being a good public speaker is as simple as fooling yourself into believing that you already are one. Speeches are 20 percent verbal, 60 percent mental and 20 percent lies. It’s just math.

3) Move around as much as possible. Regardless of whatever your COMS 100 professor may tell you, audiences love activity. Flail your arms, take dramatic steps in every direction and, most importantly, accent every word with some form of action.

4) Whoever you are, be the opposite. Nothing grabs a crowd’s attention more than a good twist. If you’re a band member, give a speech on the importance of proper cheerleading techniques; if you’re an art major, give a speech on statistics. Keep your audience on their toes; they’ll love you for it.

5) Use as many big words as possible, regardless of their actual definitions. It will make you seem both intelligent and mysterious when you use phrases like “your iPod accoutrements are top notch,” and “that man is quite saxicolous.” Nothing excites an audience more than the joy of getting to Google a word after your speech.

All of these tips will make you more successful as a public speaker, and I’ll leave you with this one last tip:

Public speaking is a lot like making love. At first, you’ll be nervous, sweaty, overdressed and way too quick to finish. After your first few rodeos, though, you’ll have the stamina and moves to leave everyone with their mouths open and toes curled.