Oral Communication as a Process
Communication is the process by which people create and send symbols that are received, interpreted, and responded to by other people. A process is a series of stages or steps during which something is transformed. People includes the sender/speaker/source and the receiver/listener/audience. The speaker initiates the message…and the listeners are those for whom the message was intended. Ideas, opinions, information, etc. are encoded; they are transformed into verbal and nonverbal symbols. Symbols are the verbal and nonverbal signs used to represent thoughts, things, and actions.
The combination of symbols forms the message. Messages are sent through verbal and nonverbal channels, such as physical senses or media. Frame of reference affects a person’s interpretation of the message. Frame of reference includes the listener’s experiences, knowledge, goals, beliefs, feelings, values, attitudes, etc.
Noise or interference (both internal and external) may disrupt transmission of the message. Internal interference could be sleepiness, hunger pains, pre-occupations. External interference could be the sound of a snowplow outside the window. Feedback (both verbal and nonverbal) is the receivers’ response to the message, and includes facial expressions, questions, and comments.
Communication is symbolic and personal: although we create shared reality, meaning is never the same for two people within that shared reality. We each have different fields of experience and use different encoding and decoding processes. The sender and the receiver are affected by the situation and context: time, social environment, and physical setting.
Communication is transactional. The linear (or historical way of looking at communication) model is simple: the source sends a message to the receiver. If we add feedback, however, the receiver becomes the sender and the sender becomes the receiver. The model changes from linear to transactional.
The model starts with a speaker and some listeners. The message travels along a channel, as does feedback from the audience. Interference can impede the communication process, and the situation (the time and the place, among others) can shape the message. Communication is not static—and it is not the mere transmission of messages.
Communication is both verbal and nonverbal, intentional and unintended.
Three levels of communication are contained in messages. At the content level is the explicit subject and content of the message. At the relationship level is the way the speaker views the status relationship with the other participants (dominant, equal, or subservient). This is often revealed in tone of voice or word choice. At the affective level are the emotions, or how the speaker feels about the message, the participants, and the situation.
Public Speaking as a Process
Steps in the Speech Design Process: It’s one step at a time. For speeches in class and for speeches you give in other situations, start with the basics and add the fine points.
1. Select a topic
2. Narrow the topic
3. Identify your goal or residual message
4. Audience analysis
5. Finalize your residual message
6. Develop and support your main points
7. Structure main points
8. Plan introduction and conclusion
No one starts from scratch—whenever we communicate with a goal in mind, we always organize our thoughts, adapt the message to the audience, and use feedback.
Learning Public Speaking is a Process
It’s one step at a time. We’ll work on each step and build up toward making the first speech. There is no such thing as a perfect speech, and there is no single, right way to speak on a particular topic.
Methods of Speech Delivery
Extemporaneous Speaking means “working from a prepared outline.” This is what we do in SpComm 100A. It’s flexible, can include supporting material, and preparation can result in clear organization. But, you might forget points, or slip into imprecise language.
Manuscript Speaking means “reading from a script.” We don’t do this in SpComm 100A. Language can be very precise, and you know how long it will be. But, it’s not as flexible, the less natural delivery can be a little dull, and it can actually increase nervousness.
Impromptu Speaking means “making it up on the spot.” We don’t do this, either. It requires less preparation time, uses more natural delivery, and the audience is less critical. But, there is potential for disorganization and a lack of polish (and the lack of preparation can be a little unnerving).
Memorized Speaking means “memorizing the manuscript.” We don’t. As with a manuscript, it can be more precise, and it has better eye contact. But, it’s inflexible, you can forget what you memorized, and it can actually increase nervousness.
The five characteristics of effective speech (or, to sum everything up) are based on Cicero’s 5 canons of rhetoric. Invention is “discovering the best arguments.” Disposition is “the arrangement or organization of the material.” Elocution is “delivery, language, and speaking style.” Pronunciation is “voice and body movement.” Memory is “remembering what you planned to say and how you planned to say it.”
This is based on the idea that the speaker has some Truth that he or she wants to get across. A more recent idea is that through the process of figuring out what you want to say, and figuring out what the audience already knows or is expecting from you, truths are created between the speaker and the audience.
This section examined three different processes that are part of public speaking, described different kinds of public speaking, and laid out some of the characteristics of effective public speaking. In the next section, listening will be the focus of the discussion. And in coming sections, we’ll talk about topic selection, researching information, and organizing the parts of the speech.