Audience Contact and Use of Notes
1. Explain the importance of audience contact and the part use of notes plays in this.
1 Having good contact with your audience is a great aid in teaching. It wins their respect and enables you to teach more effectively. Your contact with them should bring you into such close touch that their every reaction is immediately felt by you as speaker. Your use of notes plays an important part in determining whether you have such audience contact or not. Extensive notes can be a hindrance; but skilled use of notes is not disturbing, even if the circumstances require that they be somewhat longer than usual. That is because a speaker who is skilled does not lose his contact with the audience by looking at the notes either too much or at the wrong time. On your Speech Counsel slip this is given attention, and it is listed as “Audience contact, use of notes.”
2-5. What makes for effective visual contact with the audience?
2 Visual contact with the audience. Visual contact means to see your audience. It means not just looking at the audience but looking at the individuals in the audience. It means seeing the expressions on their faces and reacting accordingly.
3 Looking at your audience does not mean simply a rhythmic movement from one side to the other so that no one is missed. Look at someone in the audience and say a sentence or two to that individual. Then look at another and say a few more sentences to that person. Do not stare at anyone so long that he is embarrassed and do not concentrate on only a few persons in the entire audience. Continue to move throughout the audience in this way, but, as you speak to a person, really talk to that one and notice his reaction before you pass on to another. Your notes should be placed on the speakers’ stand or in your hand or Bible so that you can look at them quickly, with only an eye movement. If it is necessary to move your entire head to see your notes, audience contact will suffer.
4 Your counselor will observe not only how often you use your notes but when you look at them. If you are looking at your notes while you are reaching a climax, you will not see your audience’s reaction. If you are constantly consulting your notes, you will also lose contact. This generally indicates either a nervous habit or insufficient preparation for delivery.
5 There are times at which experienced speakers are called on to give an entire talk from a manuscript, and, of course, this somewhat limits their visual contact with the audience. But if they are well acquainted with the material as a result of good preparation, they are able to look at their audience from time to time without losing their place, and this is a stimulus to expressive reading on their part.
6-9. Point out another means of gaining audience contact, and the pitfalls that must be guarded against.
6 Audience contact by direct address. This is just as essential as visual contact. It involves the words you use in addressing your audience.
7 When you talk to one person privately you address him directly by saying “you,” “your” or “we,” “our.” Where it is appropriate, you can speak in the same way to a larger audience. Try to view your talk as a conversation with one or two persons at a time. Watch them closely enough so that you can respond to them as though they had actually spoken to you. This will personalize your delivery.
8 A word of caution though. Avoid the danger of becoming too familiar with your audience. You need not become intimate any more than you would in dignified conversation with one or two persons at a door in the field ministry, but you can and should be just as direct.
9 Another danger. You must be judicious in your use of personal pronouns and not cast your audience in an undesirable light. For instance, in a talk on delinquency, you would not use a form of address that would infer your audience were the delinquents. Or, if you were discussing low hours in the service meeting, you might include yourself in the talk, using the pronoun, “we” instead of always saying “you.” Thoughtfulness and consideration should easily overcome any danger of this sort.
10, 11. What should encourage us to learn to use an outline?
10 Use of outline. Few beginning speakers start out by speaking from an outline. Usually they will write the talk out in advance and then either read it or deliver it from memory. Your counselor will overlook this at the beginning, but when you come to “Use of outline” on your Speech Counsel slip he is going to encourage you to speak from notes. When you master it, you will find that you have taken a great stride forward as a public speaker.
11 Children and adults who cannot even read give talks, using illustrations to suggest ideas. You can prepare your talk with a simple outline too, the same as the Scripture presentations that are outlined in Kingdom Ministry. You speak regularly without a manuscript in the field ministry. You can do it just as easily in the school, once you make up your mind to it.
12, 13. Give suggestions on how to make an outline.
12 Since working on this quality is to help you to get away from a manuscript, both in preparation and in delivery, do not memorize your talk. It will defeat the purpose of this Study.
13 If you are using scriptures, you can ask yourself the adverbial questions, How? Who? When? Where? and so forth. Then, as they fit your material, use these questions as part of your notes. In giving the talk simply read a scripture, ask yourself or your householder these questions, as appropriate, and answer them. It can be as simple as that.
14, 15. What factors should not discourage us?
14 Beginners often are concerned that they will forget something. However, if you have developed your talk logically, no one will even miss a thought if you do overlook it. Coverage of material is not the main consideration at this stage anyway. It is more important for you now to learn to talk from an outline.
15 It is possible that in giving this talk you will feel you have lost many of the qualities already learned. Do not be alarmed. They will return and you will find yourself more proficient at them once you can learn to speak without a manuscript.
16, 17. In making notes, what should we remember?
16 Just a word about notes used for talks in the ministry school. They should be used to recall ideas, not to recite them. Notes should be brief. They should also be neat, orderly and legible. If your setting is a return visit, your notes should be inconspicuous, perhaps inside your Bible. If it is a platform talk and you know you are going to be using a speakers’ stand, then notes should be no problem. But if you are not sure, prepare accordingly.
17 Another aid is to write the theme at the top of your notes. Main points should also stand out clearly to the eye. Try writing them in all capital letters or underlining them.
18, 19. How can we practice using an outline?
18 Your use of only a few notes in delivering your talk does not mean you can skimp on preparation. Prepare the talk in detail first, making as complete an outline as you wish. Then, prepare a second, much briefer, outline. This is the outline that you will actually use to deliver the talk.
19 Now put both outlines in front of you and, looking only at the abbreviated outline, say just as much as you can on the first main point. Next, glance at the more detailed outline and see what you have overlooked. Go on to the second main point in your abbreviated outline and do the same. In time, the shorter outline will become so familiar to you that you can recall everything in the more detailed outline just by looking at your few brief notes. With practice and experience you will begin to appreciate the advantages of extemporaneous speaking and will use a manuscript only when absolutely required. You will feel more relaxed when you speak and your audience will listen with greater respect.