Article: The Greeks had a word for it …

Most public speakers need to do one or more of three things:

  • to inspire – formal announcements, sermons, keynote speeches, political speeches, rallying calls to action …
  • to inform – training sessions, team briefings, press announcements, presenting academic papers …
  • to entertain – after dinner, best man, thank you and prize-giving speeches, performances, reading poetry or fiction aloud …

Of course, the Ancient Greeks had a word for everything and they knew a lot about public speaking. Their term ‘glossophobia,’ or ‘tongue terror,’ is the perfect description for the fear of speaking in public.

They also made it clear that to be a successful speaker you need to establish three points from the start for the audience to accept you and your message, and these still hold true today – Ethos, Logos and Pathos:

Ethos – where we derive our term Ethics. An audience needs to trust and believe you, to feel that your values and beliefs chime in with their own.

Logos – where we derive our term Logic. They need to fully understand your language and your message before they can buy into it.

Pathos – where we derive our term Empathy. They need to feel that they like you.

Your words, voice and body language all need to be working in harmony to fulfil all these needs from the moment they first see you stand up to speak.

If they believe you, you’ll find it easier to encourage them, help them take heart and change their attitude.

If they understand you, they’ll be able to follow, learn and take the message away with them.

And if they like you, they’ll feel relaxed, engaged and attentive.

So whatever form your public speaking takes, you’ll want your contribution to be inspiring, informative and entertaining – the public speaking hat trick!