Paper at the International Leadership Training Program held at Islamabad 22 December - 6 January 1996 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.  MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Faculty of Medicine International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan Petaling Jaya Selangor DE 46700 Fax (603) 757 7970




Purposes and elements of public speaking










Short speeches

Body language and gestures

Speaking with  emotion



Check-list of a public speech

Methods of speech delivery

Check-list for speaker






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. Public speeches make a major impact if made well. Speaking is metaphorically a type of magic. If the khutbat al juma fulfilled its role properly the ummat would have been different from what it is now. The elements of public speaking are: Speaker, Message, Delivery Technic, Audience, and Feed-back.



As a speaker you must have integrity, knowledge, positive attitude, sensitivity to the audience and the situation, oral skills, self-confidence and self-control. You 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 your sincerity and attune to you. 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, sincere, genuine, and 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.



The audience is very important. 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. 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.



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



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 practicing the speech. 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. Prepare an outline dividing your presentation into three parts: introduction, body and conclusion. Rehearsing a speech before delivery increases your 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, and silently talking to yourself,



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


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. The conclusion must summarize the material and end with humility. 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,informal interviews, and interactions with others. A good conclusion summarizes the key ideas, gives a sense of completeness,and appeals to the audience. You must work on making the conclusion effective; it is often the most remembered part of the speech.




Delivery involves both physical and vocal aspects. The physical aspects include: gestures, posture, and 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..


Avoid powerless talk that loses you audience interest. Powerless talk makes you lose authority and credibility infront 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


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.  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 goes 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.



Try to make your speech unique so that it can be remembered. The following help increase retention: audio-visuals, repetition, periods of silence for emphasis, audience participation, short and simple speech, use of examples and stories to illustrate concepts, appropriate language use, appropriate body language and emotions, and sincerity of the speaker.


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


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.


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.


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.


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. 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.






                "Ammar b Yasir said: The Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) commanded us to shorten the speeches"

Abu Daud 1:285, Chapter 382, Hadith # 1101



"Narrated Sahl: Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) said, " I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise," showing his middle and index fingers and separating them"

Bukhari 7:171, hadith # 224



"Narrated Abu Masud al Ansari: Once a man said to Allah's Apostle ( may peace be upon him ) " O Allah's Apostle! I may not attend the ( compulsory congregational ) prayer because so and so ( the Imam ) prolongs the prayer when he leads us for it. The narrator added: " I never say the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) more furious in giving advice than he was on that day. The Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) said. " O people! Some of you make other dislike good deeds ( the prayers ). SO whoever leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them there are the sick, the weak and the needy ( having some jobs to do"

Bukhari 1:75, hadith # 90





Think of a public speech that you delivered recently and indicate whether you undertook the following:


Understanding the speech event

Thinking about the speech situation

Preparing the speech



Questions and answers

Analysis of the speech experience



Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the following speech delivery technics:


                                                                                ADVANTAGES                   DISADVANTAGES











Think of a speech you delivered or listened to and evaluate it using the following criteria:

                Speaker's appearance

                                proper dress


                                face: (smile, eye contact)

                                hands: (natural gestures)

                                voice: (loud, diction, breathing, speed)

                Speaker's mannerisms

                                meaningless sounds

                                meaningless phrases eg 'you know'

                                licking lips

                                meaningless hand gestures

                                playing/toying/fidgeting with things

                Speaker's style

                                accessibility (aloof, accessible, candor)


                                word selection



                                be himself and genuine

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule January 1996