Public Speaking Merit Badge – You might not think of yourself as a public speaker, but every time you speak to a group of your friends, classmates, or at a Scout meeting, you are presenting yourself and your views in public.
Even if you haven’t stood at a podium on the stage and find the whole idea scary, sooner or later, someone is going to ask you to get up and say a few words. If you are prepared, it won’t be scary. It can even be fun.
One day you might be asked to give a toast at your best friend’s wedding or speak in front of your local community about something you believe in strongly.
You might have to lead a formal business meeting or speak at the worst of times, such as someone’s funeral.
A lot happens during the course of every person’s life, and your ability to communicate your feelings and ideas is the best way to connect to the larger world.
After you have earned the Public Speaking merit badge, you can go further into the field by earning the Communications merit badge.
Public Speaking Merit Badge Requirement
- Give a three- to five-minute introduction of yourself to an audience such as your troop, class at school, or some other group.
- Prepare a three- to five-minute talk on a topic of your choice that incorporates body language and visual aids.
- Give an impromptu talk of at least two minutes either as part of a group discussion or before your counselor. Use a subject selected by your counselor that is interesting to you but that is not known to you in advance and for which you do not have time to prepare.
- Select a topic of interest to your audience. Collect and organize information about the topic and prepare an outline. Write an eight- to 10-minute speech, practice it, then deliver it in a conversational way.
- Show you know parliamentary procedure by leading a discussion or meeting according to accepted rules of order, or by answering questions on the rules of order.
Sample Outline Speech
Let’s say you are giving a speech to boys who are not Scouts on the value of Scouting. Your purpose is to convince them to join your troop by telling them how fun and exciting Scouting is.
Your topic will be, in one sentence. “Scouting is fun and helps boys become valuable citizens and leaders in their community. Begin working on your idea list, adding all of your thoughts on the values of Scouting.
When you have them written down, eliminate the weakest arguments, Next comes the outline, which might look like the following:
- Thank the person who introduced you.
- State your appreciation for the chance to speak.
- State your argument or topic briefly.
- Scouting provides citizenship training
- By teaching boys to live and work together
- By teaching skills useful in helping others, such as first aid
- By stressing our American heritage in its activities
- By teaching respect for patriotic symbols such as the flag
- Scouting develops character
- By teaching Scouts to live by the Scout Oath and Law
- Through service projects and Good Turns
- By teaching skills that emphasize self-reliance and preparedness
- Scouting develops physical and mental fitness
- Through outdoor activities
- By patrol competition
- By providing standards of physical fitness by which a Scout can measure himself
- Scouting is fun!
- It offers camping and hiking.
- Scouts learn many outdoor skills.
- It offers swimming, canoeing, and boating. d. It gives boys a chance to do things with their friends.
Summarize the four main points. Make an appeal for boys to join.
Notice that this speech was developed so that the most important point-“Scouting is fun!”-comes last. This way, the best ammunition is saved for last so that the audience is still thinking about it
before the speaker calls them to action: Join up!
Remember, the outline is not the speech. It’s just the skeleton on which you can hang all the supporting facts, personal stories, opinions, and examples.
Delivering Your Speech
Now that you have prepared your speech and practiced in front of friends and family, you are ready to deliver your speech to the intended audience.
1. Prepare the Room
Your first task is to prepare the room where you plan to speak. Arrive at least an hour early.
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare mentally, and correct any mistakes in lighting, the sound system if you are using a microphone, the seating arrangements, and any audiovisual equipment.
If your equipment uses electrical outlets, be prepared! Bring a three-prong/two-prong outlet adapter and an exten sion cord with you.
You never know when you will need one. Also, bring a small flashlight or penlight in case you have to darken the room and still need to refer to your notes.
Check the seating arrangement before anyone arrives. If you expect 10 people and you have 40 chairs, move 30 of them away from the area where you will be speaking.
Arrange small-group seating in a semicircle so that all participants can see you and one another. For larger groups, seating arranged in straight rows works best.
Sit in a chair in the front row, back row, and at the sides of the seating arrangement. If you can, have someone stand for a minute where you will be speaking so you can check for distractions.
Anything that looks weird or busy might draw the audience’s attention and should be removed. If you are using visual aids, check that nothing will block the view of your slide show or overheads, and adjust the projector accordingly.
Make sure the equipment works. Check everything twice, be sure you know how to operate the projector and the microphone.
The trick is not to be fussing around with anything when the audience arrives, Greet each person and shake hands. Introduce yourself if you don’t know someone.
The preparation process should help you feel relaxed and in control because you will know the room and will have prepared the equipment and presentation from every angle.
2. Making and Leaving a Good Impression
When the Scoutmaster or teacher introduces you, stand up and smile as you walk toward the place where you will give the speech, Shake hands with and look directly at the person who introduced you, if this is appropriate.
If not, thank the person and then smile as you establish eye contact with the audience. You don’t need to look like the Cheshire cat up there, but there is some truth to the phrase, “Smile and the world smiles with you.” A sincere and confident smile and an upbeat introduction can melt the coldest hearts,
Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart and arms relaxed at your sides ready to emphasize a point with a gesture.
Lean slightly toward your audience to show you are engaged and confident. If you still feel a little shaky, hold on to the podium, but not so tight you look like you might bench-press It through the floorboards.
If you are giving, an informative or persuasive speech, questions will likely follow. At the start of your conclusion, tell the audience that you will take questions after your concluding remarks This will get the audience to start thinking of questions to ask. The audience will clap as soon as it’s clear you are finished.
After the applause, thank the audience, smile, and stride confidently off the stage and back to your seat. This is the last impression you will make. Don’t let the audience know you were scared by the experience. Leave the impression that you enjoyed speaking to them.
3. Visual Aids
Coordinate the content and timing of visual aids-slides, drawings, or product and equipment examples with your main points.
Concentrate on one slide, chart, or object at a time. The audience will need about 20 seconds to view each item to register what they have seen. Don’t use too many visual aids, and keep them simple.
Slides that display words should use clean, readable type. Use uppercase letters when it is appropriate to capitalize a word; otherwise, use lowercase letters because these are easier to read than blocks of uppercase type.
If you discuss a point that is not covered in your slides, turn the machine off or put a blank slide in place while you talk about that information. (The blank slide will look dark on the screen.)
This way, the audience won’t focus on a slide that has nothing to do with what you are saying.
On flip charts, use thick blue or black markers and make sure your writing is neat. Don’t put too many words on any one slide or chart.
If the audience can see it, don’t read it to them word for word, but do refer to the information. Remember to check and recheck the spelling and accuracy of all information you present beforehand.
Use bar graphs to compare data and line graphs to show change over time. Flow charts can help walk the audience through a series of steps necessary to effect change.
How to Speak Persuasively
Do you want your words to move people to action? Change their minds? Persuade them! These powerful speaking techniques can help accomplish your goal.
1. Deductive Approach
State up front what you want listeners to do vote for a candidate, save a river, host a foreign exchange student, sign up for Scouting. Then spend the rest of the speech giving reasons or arguments for doing so.
2. Inductive Approach
Use reasons and arguments to lead up to the conclusion, where you will tell the audience what you want them to do. This might be called the rolling thunder approach, followed by the ka-BOOM at the end.
3. One-Sided Approach
State the side of the issue for which you stand. Instead of talk ing about opposing views, focus on your side alone. Support your position with plenty of reasons and examples. State clearly what you want the audience to do.
4. Two-Sided or Multi-Faceted Approach
Most issues have more than one side. This approach addresses both sides, or perhaps, three or four different facets of an issue. Champion your side and argue against others by using fact and reason.
Your chances of winning folks over to your side greatly increase when you ask them to make a small change rather than a big one.
5. Let Your Body Language Do the Talking
Regardless of your approach, use body language to encourage change and call people to action. In a persuasive speech, it’s good to move around a little on stage and use gestures to emphasize major points.
You don’t want to pound the podium with your fist, but you can, for example, put your hands together in a triangle shape to draw attention to the main point. Or number the points and check them off using your fingers.
Any number of natural open gestures where your arms and hands reach out toward the audience can help draw people’s attention toward you. If you can get someone to videotape your presentation during a practice run, watch the tape and take special note of your body language.
How genuine do your gestures look? Does anything look wooden, forced, or just plain odd? Think about ways to improve your body language so it matches or enhances your message. The main thing to remember is that you must believe sincerely in your subject before you can persuade others to join your cause.