Is public speaking as subjective as art?

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For everything we learn about public speaking and all that we are taught about so-called ‘best practice’, is public speaking really as subjective as art?

One person may enjoy a speech that is made up of repeated, booming sentences with very little change of pace, whilst another audience may appreciate a well-crafted speech with thought-provoking content. We all have different tastes and like different things.

Add to this the influence that the circumstances under which we are hearing a speech (is it for work, entertainment, something else?) may also have on our enjoyment or appreciation of a speech and it begins to raise some very big questions about just ‘what is a good speech?’.

In my opinion, a great speech is one in which the speaker understands his audience fully and so tailors and crafts his speech exactly for their tastes, whatever the circumstances. This might mean that content is tailored, delivery is tailored, or even the appearance of the speaker is tailored.

If you understand your audience and deliver your content in the way that best suits them, then they will always judge your speech as a truly brilliant piece of art.

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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