Introduction

As citizens, we witness many speeches during our lives, be they Presidential Addresses, university guest speakers talking on various subjects, inspirational team talks given by a coach, or yes, even a stern lecture recited by a ticked-off parent.  Given that the human attention span is, sadly, not very long, and that we hear so much talking in our lives, what is it that separates a good speech--or essay--from the mass of mundane ones?

From taking this class, I have learned the importance of starting a speech or essay with a good attention grabber and to keep the audience's attention throughout the remainder of the composition by using inventive, exciting wording and by relating the topic to the audience.  I can do this in creative ways such as through visualization, pathos, or asking a question.  When giving a speech, I can vary tone, speaking softly at times so that the audience almost strains to listen, and at other times speaking forcefully so that the audience snaps quickly to attention.  I can also pause (between separate thoughts, or to add emphasis, or to break up one long thought), use hand movements, walk, or add facial expressions.  Eye contact is key.  All of these different methods are important in making a speech conversational, easier to pay attention to, and more exciting.  As a speaker, it is important that I know my audience, know where I hold them in their attentions and their interests, and play off of that to hold their (ideally) enraptured attention throughout the duration of my speech.  Other ways to keep the audience's interest during a composition is to add strong feelings (humor, sadness, anger), or situations that many people can relate to and remember experiencing, or descriptive imagery that the listeners can picture in their minds.  These things would help the audience form a physical response to my speech or essay, a personal attachment to the ideas I convey.  If I can achieve this, my composition is not only interesting, but relatable, and therefore, memorable.  I think gaining and keeping the attention of the audience is extremely important because it helps to get my point across and makes the audience actually want to absorb a memorable speech or essay.

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