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, and 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 at 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 Requirements
- 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.
The Answer for Requirement Number 1
I can provide an example of how one might introduce themselves to an audience.
My name is John Smith, and I’m currently a senior at ABC High School. My key academic interests are in the field of science and mathematics, and I am particularly fascinated by physics and its fundamental principles that govern the universe. I am an active member of our school’s robotics team, which has fostered in me a love for problem-solving and innovation.
Outside the classroom, I’m a scout in Troop 123 and hold the position of Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. Scouting has been a significant part of my life for the past six years. It has taught me valuable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and resilience. I also value the opportunity scouting gives me to give back to our community through various service projects.
In my spare time, I enjoy orienteering – a sport that combines navigation and racing. It’s not just the physical challenge that I love, but also the mental aspect of navigating through diverse and unfamiliar terrains. I’ve recently competed in the state championships and am now training for the nationals.
Aside from these, I am a voracious reader and particularly enjoy historical fiction. Diving into different time periods and cultures helps broaden my perspective of the world and people around me.
I am thrilled to be here with you all today, and I look forward to engaging with each one of you, learning from your experiences, and making this a successful and enjoyable year together.
Please modify this template to suit your personality, experiences, and the context in which you’re introducing yourself. Remember that a good self-introduction provides a brief overview of who you are, your interests and achievements, and your goals or purpose for being in the group.
The Answer for Requirement Number 2
I can provide an example of how you might structure a talk on a topic of your choice – let’s say, the significance of the Mars Exploration Program – and suggest where to incorporate body language and visual aids.
Good evening everyone,
(Start by holding up a picture of Mars) Visual Aid 1: Picture of Mars.
This, as many of you will recognize, is Mars – often referred to as the Red Planet.
(Pause and make eye contact with the audience to engage them.)
Mars has been a topic of interest for scientists for many years, and especially so in recent years. The question that has everyone buzzing is – could Mars sustain human life?
(Use hand gestures to denote ‘question’ and ‘buzzing’ for emphasis.)
Let me take you through our journey of exploring Mars.
(Hold up a timeline poster showing key Mars missions) Visual Aid 2: Timeline of Mars Exploration.
In 1965, the Mariner 4, the first successful mission to Mars, gave us our initial close-ups of the Martian surface.
(Point to the Mariner 4 entry on the timeline.)
Fast forward to 2004, the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars and discovered evidence that there was once water on Mars.
(Point to the 2004 entry on the timeline.)
More recently, in 2020, the Perseverance rover landed on Mars. This mission aims to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for a possible return to Earth.
(Point to the 2020 entry on the timeline.)
So, why is Mars exploration significant?
(Gesture broadly with your arms to indicate the importance of the topic.)
Understanding whether life existed on Mars is critical because it helps us understand better the conditions that support life and how life originated on our own planet. In addition, studying Mars prepares us for possible human missions to the planet in the future.
(Use hand gestures to denote ‘future’ and ‘human missions.’)
In conclusion, Mars continues to be a beacon of exploration, holding many mysteries that scientists are eager to unravel.
(Pause, and then wrap up while making eye contact with the audience.)
Our quest for knowledge about the Red Planet is far from over, and the findings will only pave the way for exciting possibilities.
(End with a firm nod to signal conclusion.)
Remember, body language and visual aids are powerful tools in public speaking. They can enhance your message, provide clarity, and keep your audience engaged. Make sure your visual aids are clear, relevant, and easy to understand. As for body language, make sure your gestures, facial expressions, and movements align with the message you’re conveying. Use them to emphasize points and engage your audience.
Also Read: Space Exploration Merit Badge
The Answer for Requirement Number 3
This example of how you might give an impromptu talk on a topic you are not familiar with.
Let’s say your counselor has chosen the topic of “Modern Art”. Here’s an example of how you might handle this:
Wow, modern art, that’s an intriguing topic. I’ll be honest; I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m certainly interested to learn more.
(Start with an honest admission if you’re not familiar with the topic. This can make your audience more receptive to your thoughts.)
From my understanding, modern art is a style of art that began in the late 19th century and extended to the mid-to-late 20th century. It’s known for breaking away from traditional techniques and styles of the past, exploring new avenues of creativity and artistic expression.
(Draw on any general knowledge you have about the topic.)
An aspect of modern art I find particularly fascinating is its subjectivity. In contrast to traditional art, where a realistic depiction of the world was often the goal, modern art often leaves a lot to interpretation. It might focus on the emotions the artwork evokes rather than what is visibly presented.
(Make an insightful or thought-provoking comment about the topic.)
An example that comes to mind is abstract art, a subgenre of modern art, where artists like Picasso and Kandinsky used shapes, forms, colors, and gestural marks to achieve their effect, rather than adhering to visual accuracy.
(Give examples if possible. They can help illustrate your point.)
In conclusion, though my knowledge of modern art is limited, it’s clear to me that it plays an important role in our cultural history, pushing the boundaries of what we understand as art and encouraging viewers to engage in a more personal and introspective way.
(Finish with a conclusion that sums up your main points and offers a closing thought.)
Impromptu speeches can be challenging, but they’re excellent opportunities to practice thinking on your feet. Remember to stay calm, think before you speak, draw on any relevant knowledge you have, and try to make thoughtful comments or insights about the topic.
The Answer for Requirement Number 4
Let’s choose the topic: “The Impacts of Climate Change”. This is an important topic of global interest, relevant to everyone because of its effect on our planet.
Collect and Organize Information
Start with thorough research on your topic. Gather data and facts about climate change: causes, impacts, future predictions, and ways to mitigate it. Make sure your sources are credible. Divide the information into three main sections: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.
Prepare an Outline
An outline helps to structure your speech and ensures you cover all your key points. Here’s an example:
- Definition of climate change.
- Importance of discussing this topic.
- Causes of climate change.
- Impact of climate change:
- Global temperatures rising.
- Shrinking ice sheets.
- Sea level rise.
- More intense heatwaves and storms.
- Future predictions.
- Actions to mitigate climate change.
- Recap of importance.
- Call to action.
Write the Speech
Now, expand on each point in your outline. Remember, the speech needs to be engaging as well as informative. Here’s an excerpt:
“Ladies and gentlemen,
Climate change, a critical issue of our time, refers to significant changes in global temperatures and weather patterns over time. This topic is especially important for us to discuss today as its consequences are far-reaching and pose significant challenges for our future…
…(expand each point)…
… As we stand here today, we are faced with the immense responsibility of safeguarding our planet. Each one of us can contribute to the fight against climate change by reducing our carbon footprint, advocating for environmental policies, and educating others about this imminent threat. Together, let’s strive for a sustainable and prosperous future for the generations to come. Thank you.”
Practice the Speech
Rehearse your speech multiple times until you’re comfortable with the flow and delivery. Make sure your speech doesn’t sound like you’re reading off of a script. Be conversational and use body language to reinforce your points. Practice helps you maintain good eye contact, use appropriate gestures, vary your vocal tone, and manage your speaking speed.
Remember, the aim of your speech is not just to inform, but also to engage your audience, evoke thought, and inspire action.
Also Read: Environmental Science Merit Badge
The Answer for Requirement Number 5
Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules for conducting orderly meetings that respect the rights of the majority, minority, and individual members. One of the most widely accepted guides to parliamentary procedure in the United States is Robert’s Rules of Order.
Here’s an outline of how you might do it using Robert’s Rules of Order.
- Call the meeting to order: The chairperson should start the meeting at the appointed time by declaring the meeting to be open.
- Roll Call/Attendance: This step may be necessary for formal meetings where a record of attendees is required.
- Reading and Approval of Minutes: The secretary reads the minutes of the last meeting, and the group approves them.
- Reports: Committee members or officers give any necessary reports.
- Unfinished Business: The group discusses any business left over from the last meeting.
- New Business: The group discusses new topics. Members can introduce new topics by making a motion. Here’s how a typical motion process looks:
- A member stands, is recognized by the chair, and says, “I move that…”
- Another member seconds the motion.
- The chair states the motion and asks for discussion.
- Members discuss the motion. Once the discussion concludes, the chair puts the motion to a vote.
- The chair announces the result of the vote.
- Adjournment: The meeting is formally closed by the chair.
To answer questions about parliamentary procedure, you would need to understand various elements of it, including:
- Quorum: The minimum number of members who must be present to conduct business.
- Agenda or Order of Business: The structured plan for a meeting.
- Motion: A formal proposal that the entire membership take action on a certain matter.
- Second: An indication that at least one other member besides the mover would like to consider the motion.
- Debate/Discussion: The step in which the motion is discussed. Members may speak in favor or against the motion.
- Vote: The final action on a motion, usually done by voice vote, by show of hands, by roll call, or by ballot.
Understanding these elements will enable you to effectively answer questions on parliamentary procedure and lead a meeting successfully.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Public Speaking Merit Badge is an award in various scouting programs that encourages young scouts to learn and master the art of public speaking, enhancing their confidence, and communication skills.
To earn the Public Speaking Merit Badge, you should practice speaking in front of others, get feedback and make improvements, learn to use visual aids effectively, understand the basics of parliamentary procedures, and finally, be prepared and confident.
Fear of public speaking is quite common. It can be overcome by regular practice, understanding your topic thoroughly, using visual aids, practicing deep breathing techniques, and envisioning a successful speech.
You can choose a topic you are passionate about or one that is of interest to your audience. This could be anything from a personal experience, a hobby, a current event, or an issue that you feel strongly about.
Your speech should have an introduction where you present your topic, a body where you provide more detailed information, and a conclusion that summarizes your main points and leaves your audience with something to think about.
Body language and visual aids are essential components of effective public speaking. They can help to engage your audience, reinforce your message, and make your speech more memorable.