My reflection

The activities I found most useful during this course was recording my own voice and listening to how it sounded in the beginning to present in the context of a professional communicator.

At this stage of the course, I do feel that I am improving with every recording of my voice.  It is not just my voice, but also the tone and how something is said.  Understanding when to emphasise a certain word/s is important when reading the news.  Talking slower, pausing at certain intervals and taking a breath is important when conducting a speech so that viewers can hear and understand me.

I enjoyed watching the King’s Speech and the challenges he faced when he had to deliver a speech.  Both formal and impromptu speeches require good preparation as they both can be nerve wracking when faced with an audience.

Always watch the audiences’ response.  To ensure success, the speaker must always be conscious of the reaction or response of the audience and adjust the level, pace and perhaps the form of the message to suit the audience.  The speech must have substance otherwise the speaker will lose his/hers integrity.

The PAIBOC of speech was a useful way to help plan a script for a speech.  What is the purpose, audience, information, benefits, objects and context?  It is not only used for speech but is a overall life mechanism for planning.

Creating a blog and writing on it regularly has yielded my learning process.  I have not only read the information, but have become inspired by the different writing styles when I look back at what I wrote on my blog.  It has been an interesting experience as I have never blogged prior to this course.

What inspired me with blogging was that I could read what the other students had blogged and that gave me a change to think differently on the subject.  I do believe that this is the first course that has challenged me at every angle, and allowed me to continuously enhance my speech and writing skills.

In examining individual to audience communication we must be aware that the style, vocabulary and tone of the speech may vary according to its purpose.  Various purposes could be to interest or amuse; to inform or teach; stimulate or impress; to motivate; or coerce and persuade.

With a clear understanding of the purpose of the speech, it is important to analyse the audience.  Speaking is a natural and integral part of daily life, fear of speaking is an unnatural, acquired behaviour.  Speaking, whether to one or one thousand requires the same basic communication skills:

–       Our personality – the “this is me” aspect of communication;

–       Body language, expression, posture and other non-verbal communication

–       General appearance – dress, grooming, hair style, physical attitude;

–       Use of language;

–       Voice quality;

–       The clarity with which the intended messages comes across;

–       Level of confidence generated when talking;

–       The degree to which we participate and involve ourselves in public speaking situations.

There are certain pitfalls to be avoided:

–       Be honest with the audience.  Do not misuse statistics;

–       Illustrations are remembered;

–       Talk to the point – stay on the main line;

–       Tell the truth.  Do not misplace emphasis or tell a half-truth story to create a false impression.

–       Do not argue in a circle.  Get straight to the point;

–       Give proof when required.  Do not mistake assertion or contradiction for proof.

–       Be concise.  Do not use a dozen words to say what can be said in one or two.

Hosting a program can be difficult as transgression comes into play as can be seen on the Ellen Degeneres show “You put that on Facebook”.  TV hosts have to be careful what they say to audiences so as not to offend them.  Tasteful wit and humour as in the Ellen show is accepted as audience members are attracted to the entertainment.

I feel more confident with the second assignment as the course was interactive and had a ‘hands on’ approach.  It is important to be professional in communicating at all times.  Speak confidently and with heart to gain credibility from the audience.

With my final assignment, I will have to practice more as I am still not loud and clear enough (due to my South African accent).  One task I was uncomfortable with was the Piece to Camera.  I didn’t know where to look when talking to the camera and I was unsure of how natural I should sound.  I hesitated often and had to search high and low within myself for the words and I still could not find them.

One aspect I am confident in is that although I enjoyed the first assignment, I will not pursue a career in hosting or reporting news.  To be a good TV presenter or host, you need a certain type of personality.  Most hosts started their careers as a journalist.  I would prefer to work behind the scenes and draft scripts for the people who are on the front line.

News Script – Could Biochar be the ultimate solution to our world

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESdmI7DVTQQ&feature=plcp

I believe I sound more confident in this clip than I was when I first started the course.  I still have a lot of practice before I am able to master my voice and sound like a news presenter, however I will be more prepared and knowledgeable on this subject when Assignment 2 has to be submitted.

News Script: Can Biochar change the world

“Can Biochar be the ultimate solution to saving our planet”?

Tons of research is still needed to answer this lagging question.

Biochar has numerous benefits in the Murrumbidgee area as it can improve the area’s soils, reduce greenhouse gasses.  The local government and communities around the area support the production of Biochar.

Biochar, according to scientists is a highly absorbent charcoal derived from organic waste.  Its’ raw material can be any forest, agricultural or animal waste.  Some examples are woodchips, corn husks, peanut shells and chicken manure.

So, how is it produced?  The waste called “biomass” is fed into an metal barrel where it is cooked under extreme temperatures.  The organic matter is cooked through a thermochemical process called “pyrolysis”.

Within hours, the waste is transformed into charcoal-like pellets.  Farms can then turn these pallets into fertilizer for their land.  One huge benefit is that the gasses during the production can be attached to fuel vehicles of power electric generators.

Biochar is considered by many scientists to be the “black gold” for agriculture.

Biochar helps clean the air by preventing rotting biomass from releasing harmful CO2 into the environment, and encourages plants to securely store CO2 they pull out of the air during photosynthesis.

If the world had to use biochar, we could cut CO2 levels by 8 parts per million within 50 years, according to NASA scientist James Hansen.

The process of making biochar can also lead to other valuable products.

 

The PAIBOC of speech

PURPOSE

The purpose of the script is to talk about Biochar and its’ features and what it means to the agricultural industry.  Advantages and disadvantages of producing Biochar will be discussed so as to create some controversary.  A controversial topic stimulates audience minds and keeps them interested. The speech needs to be written in plain English with no technical jargon so that rotary members can understand the purpose clearly.

AUDIENCE

Þ      Policy makers for national, state and local governments

Þ      Australian Agricultural systems

Þ      Landcare/rotary members

INFORMATION

The primary goal is to provide information to the audience about biochar – the benefits, risks and limitations need to be understood.

Information such as processes and feedstocks available for biochar production:

Þ      physical and chemical characteristics of biochar

Þ      effects of biochar application to agricultural soils

Þ      economic considerations of biochar production and use

Þ      risks associated with using biochar in agricultural systems

BENEFITS

The benefits of biochar will be discussed, such as having the potential to improve livestock growth rates, while decreasing nitrogen outputs.

The benefits include improvements in physical and chemical soil characteristics, nutrient use efficiency and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions derived from nitrogenous fertilisers.  Generally, research has shown biochar has been found to improve infertile and degraded soils. It can also be used as a soil conditioner and a climate change mitigation tool.

The speech needs to be delivered loud and clear so that it can be understood.

OBJECTIONS

The risks and limitations of producing and using biochar must be discussed.  According to Sparkes and Stoutjesdijk (2011), there is no consistent evidence that biochar can be relied upon to make soil more fertile or to be used as feedstock.  The process for making charcoal and energy (pyrolysis) can result in dangerous soil and air pollution.  There are still gaps in research whether or not biochar will not harm the environment and it’s species or animals.  This could be a discussion on its own and audiences may have questions.

CONTEXT

Murrumbidgee Landcare Inc. (ML) is an umbrella organisation supporting vibrant, financially sustainable communities, ensuring the environment is not harmed in any way.  The speech will be delivered in an environmental context.

References

Sparkes, J, Stoutjesdijk, P 2011, Biochar:  implications for agricultural productivity, Australian Government:  Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Technical Report 11.06

Murrumbidgee Landcare, ‘About’, viewed 03 September 2012,  http://www.murrumbidgeelandcare.asn.au/about

Facilitators & Facilitation

The features of facilitation:

 Facilitators are educators in adult, community, youth work and informal education.

A facilitator remains neutral and does not take sides or discriminates.  These educators are not teachers and have to listen to their pupils and determine how their reasons for or against an argument differ to engage in a productive conversation (Schwarz 2002: 41).  Facilitators are not the decision-makers, nor mediators.  They must not overrule group decisions as they will lose credibility and their assignments will not be effective.

Facilitators must encourage reflection around experiences and process, the task or to other aspects of the group.  Their role is to empower learners to learn in an experimental way.

Learning is achieved through reflection upon everyday experience or direct encounter ‘with the phenomena being studied’ rather than merely thinking about the encounter, or only considering the possibility of doing something about it.’ (Borzak 1981:  9 quoted in Brookfield 1983).

The main responsibility for learning is with the learner.  Facilitators’ emphasis is self-direction.  This is different to traditional education in that teachers are responsible for students learning.  As discussed by John Heron, facilitation is a holistic intervention.

In summary, facilitation helps people to explore, learn and change which builds a range of skills.  There are three core conditions for facilitative practice.  These are as follows:

Þ    The facilitator must be seen as a real person for learning to be effective.

Þ    Prize the learner, encourage feelings, build and maintain trust

Þ    Compassion plays a big part in learning – the teacher must understand the students emotionally and know how the learning is affecting the student.  Students want to be understood – not evaluated, not judged, simply understood from their own point of view, not the teacher’s. (Rogers 1967 304-311).

Certain incidences need formal meetings to search for answers or make decisions. They are more group sessions and needs planning. These meetings must be flexible to address the needs of students.

So, what do facilitators have to think about?  The answer is a simple EFFECT

Environment

What will the setting be?  What resources do we need for students to learn and understand what is being taught?

Focus.

Þ    Purpose of discussion

Þ    Subject and action- what needs have been identified?

Feelings

Þ    What sense do people have of what they want and need?

Þ    What emotions will be evokes?

Experiences

Þ    There should be a mixture of experiences and or activities to support and inspire study

Þ    Focus on important points and at the same time meet the needs of students

Þ    Assist with starting group work, exploration and expression.

Changes

Þ    In what ways should the students change?

Þ    Do students want to change and how?  Is there a change – if at all – by participating in the sessions?

Timings

Þ    Allocate the correct amount of time for different learning situations and experiences.

Facilitators that adhere to these main points; the environment, focus, feelings, experiences, changes and timing will gain respect and credibility from their students.

Reference:

Smith, Mark K. (2001; 2009) ‘Facilitating learning and change in groups’, the encyclopedia of informal education, viewed 22 August 2012, www.infed.org/biblio/b-facil.htm

Talk in Action – Interactions, identities and institutions

Research proves that to speak successfully in public, eye contact with audience is crucial.

The contrast is the most common and diverse weapon in a speech.  Contrast is a play on words in which the meaning of words is phrased.  The audience has time to foresee the applause.

Types of contrast:

–       Contradictions – not this but that:  advice is judged by results, not by intentions.  Ronald Regan stated “The house we hope to build is not for my generation but for yours”.

–       Comparisons – more this than that:  Aristotle famously said “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies”.

–       Opposites – black or white:  Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever (Napolean)

–       Phrase reversals – John F. Kennedy’s words “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’”.

Contrasts are powerfully linked with the audience response.

Lists can also predict when the audience should react.  The most important point about lists is that they negotiate in threes, both in speeches and in normal conversations.  In normal conversations, lists are associated with emphasis.  The receiver hesitates for a speaker to generate the third item of a list, and frequently start to respond on a completed third item even though the speaker may continue the list.

Three-part lists are active in speeches, and combine emphasis and predictability of the response on the third item.  For example Bob Dole 1996 Repulican National Convention said “I can tell you that every family, wage earner and small business in America can do better”.

Lists take several shapes and are more helpful in motivating audiences’ to respond after a short delay prior to when the last item is mentioned or when the last item is longer than the other three.  In both cases, the audience has a little more time to get ready to applause, and the chances are that other members will do the same.

There are four types of lists:

  • Three identical words:  first delivery, second delivery and third delivery (Cicero)
  • Three different words:  I came, I saw, I conquered (Julius Caesar)
  • Three phrases:  Government of the people, by the people, for the people (Abraham Lincoln)
  • Three sentences:  dogs look up to us.  Cats look down on us.  Pigs treat us as equals (Winston Churchill).

Researchers Heritage and Greatbatch announced that approximately 6.5 percent of all applause events at the British conventions were twice as likely to be applauded as unformatted statements (Heritage and Greatbatch 1986:  142).

The puzzle-solution is another speech arrangement.  The speaker awakens the audience by instituting a problem or puzzle.  Then delivering the point as the solution to the puzzle, the speaker stress the point while giving the audience advance warning that an applauded point is coming, so this invites applause at the first point at which the solution starts evolving.  Puzzle-solutions can fix problems and gain solutions to combine humour with a political message, and produce laughter and applause.

Puzzle- solutions are less regular than lists but have higher success rates (Heritage and Greatbatch 1986:  142).

The above systems can send the message.  Combinations can bond puzzles with contrasts.  Not every contrast or list has a positive effect.  Mistakes in the making and implementation of the speech can cause any one of these rhetorical systems to be unsuccessful.  But all is not lost – the audience can have a second chance.

  • First there is the argument structure – most likely against opponents.
  • Second, there is a level at which certain points are made and are rhetoricaly structured to build towards a specific slot.
  • Finally, there is a micro-structural level of inflection, rhythm, timing and gesture which guides the audience towards an exact opening in the talk where response can be initiated.

Great speakers link all these levels to produce a faultless argumentitive structure.

Form and content are equally important in a speech.  Content is needed to allow the audience to applaud, however it is not always enough to make a successful speech.  Form is also required to improve applause as this allows individual audience members to express their support for positions that they feel strongly about.  In summary, the rhetorical formats serve both the interests of speakers and their audiences.  The researchers concluded that speakers want immediate, substantial and enthusiastic bursts of applause in response to their assertions.  Audiences want to show their support for speakers while reducing the risk that they will be clapping alone.  This is a “game of pure coordination”.

Chapter 18: Interaction en Masse: Audiences and Speeches in Heritage, J and Clayman, S 2010 Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, pp. 263-287.