CAREER GUIDE Friday, September 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India

Tricks for effective public speaking
UBLIC speaking is an art. And like any art, it has to be cultivated and chiseled to perfection. This can be done through practice and by mastering some of the tried and tested strategies used by successful speakers. Mastering the technique of making good notes is as important as the speech itself.


Tricks for effective public speaking

I am the most spontaneous writer and speaker in the world because every word, every gesture, every retort has been carefully rehearsed.

George Bernard Shaw

PUBLIC speaking is an art. And like any art, it has to be cultivated and chiseled to perfection. This can be done through practice and by mastering some of the tried and tested strategies used by successful speakers.

Mastering the technique of making good notes is as important as the speech itself. Notes serve as perfect cues to remind you how your talk should proceed and help you sail through the ordeal. On the other hand, using excessively long or detailed notes will only bore your audience to tears.

As you gather information and data for your talk, make notes on your index cards as you would for a project paper. But in order to be effective, you need to use some different techniques to ‘tell’ your story. Just follow these simple tips to make your next talk a roaring success:

1. Don’t make your topic too broad: Narrowing the scope of your talk will help you research and organise it more effectively.

2. Don’t overuse statistics: While they are very important for lending credibility to your argument, too many will only weigh down your speech and bore your audience.

3. Anecdotes add colour and life to your talk: But use them sparingly, because they can slow down your speech. Get to the punch-line before the yawns start.

4. Be careful with quotes: Unlike a project paper, a speech allows you to establish yourself as an authority with less fear of being accused of plagiarism. So you can present a lot more facts without having to mention the source. But you should have the sources at hand in case you are asked about your facts.

5. Create an outline: Go through your note cards and arrange them so that they build towards a logical and convincing argument. Then jot down the outline. Here, unlike writing for a paper, the outline for your speech may restate some of the important points for further emphasis.

6. Organise your talk: There is only one best way: Tell them what you are going to say. Say it. Then, round up what you have said. Which means you may have to be somewhat repetitious, though in a barely noticeable way.

Having written out your outline, read through it several times. Read it to yourself to make sure you have not left out any important facts or arguments. Then read it aloud to see how it flows. Stand in front of the mirror and try giving the speech without looking at your notes. On the basis of your rehearsal, you will be in a position to assess your memory on various points. When you are not in a position to recollect or elaborate upon a point, highlight the same on the index card adding more details to it. Rehearse it again.

When you have refined your speech on all points, distil your ideas jotted down in the index cards to a barest framework possible. A symbol or a simple phrase can be used to give you a cue for points which you are very familiar with.

Using index cards with barest notes will encourage you to ad lib more while speaking. Since ad libbing is the most well-received part of the speech, you will certainly leave an impression upon the audience as a successful speaker.

A sample outline

Assuming that you were assigned to take one side of the argument, "Should drugs be legalised?", you may sketch the following outline:

The opening

I. Drugs should be legalised

II. This will help solve, not deepen, the drug crisis in this country

III. Keeping illegal drugs assures that criminals get rich and government funds get wasted

The middle

I. Reasons for legalising drugs:

A. Artificially inflated prices

1. Costs are inflated 2,500 per cent

B. Public funds are being wasted

1. Law enforcement is not working

2. Funds for rehabilitation are paltry

3. Education funds are inadequate

II. Control would be easier

A. It has worked in other countries

B. Licensing would increase revenues

C. Harsh penalties would curb sales to minors

D. Drug addicts would be known and available for counselling

III. Prohibition does not work.

The closing

I. The costly, ineffective war on drugs.

II. Legalisation sounds radical, but it would work.

III. The alternative is far more dangerous.

As you can see, the speech will restate the same points three times so as to emphasise them and to make sure they will be remembered.

CARING (Career Guidance


Q What does the new ‘percentile’ score in CAT imply? Will I now get to know how many marks I have scored in the test?

Shama Gupta

A As against an ‘absolute’ score which tells you how you have fared in a test in terms of correct answers scored out of the total number of marks allotted to the paper, a ‘percentile’ score shows you how you have fared in relation to all other "test takers". This means that you still do not get to know your actual marks. But suppose you are in the top 10 percentile, it means that you have scored higher than 90 per cent of the candidates.

Bowing to pressure for transparency, the IIMs have finally broken their age-old tradition and decided to lift the veil of secrecy shrouding the CAT scores. As in the case of GMAT, you will now get your percentile scores for each of the three sections of the test.

All these years only the list of successful candidates was put up. But neither they nor the ones who did not make it had a clue how much they had scored and by what margin the latter had missed out.

This student-friendly move will put paid to all unnecessary speculation.

Preying on this very anxiety, a number of ‘smart’ but not so great B-schools would announce their results before the CAT results were out. Driven by the bird-in-hand theory, many an aspirant would perforce accept admission to these schools by shelling out thousand of rupees by way of initial fees (mostly unrefundable).

Now with the advancing of the CAT (to November 24), the results will be announced two weeks earlier. This will give students a fair idea of their chances and give them sufficient time to rethink their strategy and explore other options. Except for IIT-ians who may be a little unhappy because their final semester exams are also slated for November-end, this is a truly welcome development for the general junta.

Also the section-wise scoring will give you a relative but fair assessment of your performance so that you can plan your next move accordingly. You can now coolly decide whether to give it another shot next year (if you have missed it by a relatively narrow margin). You will also know which sections to work on in order to improve your score.


Q I am a student of class XII (PCMB). My date of birth is Feb 28, 1987. I have heard that the minimum age for appearing in IIT JEE 2003 is 17 years as on October ‘03. By then I will only be 16 years and 7 months. Can I take the exam?

Tarun Sehgal

A Last year’s notification (check: jee/ jeepattern) only mentions the upper limit (24 years for regular candidates and a 5-year relaxation for the physically handicapped).

Upon seeking clarification from the Chairman’s office, we were asked (in typical sarkari fashion) to await the formal notification on November 23.

In the meanwhile, you must have noted the revised JEE schedule: screening test: April, 20, 2003 (Sunday), and main exam: May 25, 2003 (Sunday). Not only does this allow you more time to prepare, but you can also concentrate on your board exams.

International Law

Q What exactly does someone specialising in international law do? Does the field have sufficient scope?

Suneet Bhalla

A In today’s rapidly shrinking world where take-overs and mergers are the order of the day, a new breed of professionals called international lawyers are increasingly in demand. The term typically applies to lawyers who help companies and individuals put together business and investment deals that transcend national borders as well as to litigates who represent clients when such deals unravel.

Demand for lawyers with experience in securities and transactions, is growing in proportion to changes in the global marketplace. While till some time ago only major companies were involved in international business today even small ones have foreign transactions requiring the services of corporate lawyers with knowledge of international law.

In keeping with the winds of globalisation sweeping through corporate India, many major law firms have started offering this specialisation amongst their services to stay on top. The course is also a useful for those in the relevant government ministries as well as for those working in human right organisations and embassies.

Working for foreign clients involves sorting through cultural differences and understanding the disparities in different legal systems. A major perk, besides the high fees, is the exciting opportunity for travel.

International law constitutes one compulsory paper of the LLB course and can also be pursued at the LLM level. However, you can also do a focused 1-year Diploma in International Law and Diplomacy or Law of International Institutions at the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi. The courses are conducted by the Indian Academy of International Law, which is the teaching and research wing of the Indian Society of International Law, 9, Bhagwan Das Road, New Delhi-110001.

The ISIL also offers four diploma-level courses of its own in different aspects of international law.

Although the ISLI’s diploma courses are popular and have been in existence for the past 30 years, they are not yet recognised either by the DU or the UGC.


Q What is the scope of embedded software?

Mukesh Kumar

A As the term suggests, this is a software that is embedded in a hardware device as part of a product or service (and not sold separately) e.g., the onboard systems in an aircraft, the code in a Sega Video game cartridge, the browser for a website, the programme in a cellphone or microwave, or the software within a computer system. The auto industry, wireless and "intelligent "appliances are the major potential areas for this software.

Despite the slowdown in areas like telecom, intelligent devices and newer features in existing products and services are being introduced to boost the demand. Other industries like airlines, aircraft manufacture, consumer electronics have products whose competitive features depend on the software embedded in them. According to a recent Merrill Lynch report, the estimated size of this market is a whopping $10 billion.

Quick on the uptake, our Indian software service companies have begun to keenly eye the global embedded software market.


Q Since I had always dreamt of being a doctor but could not because I was married straight after school, I am now thinking of doing a course in electropathy or electro-homoeopathy. Could you please tell me if these courses are recognised by the Medical Council of India?

Sandeep Bedi

A To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A UGC notification clearly states that neither electropathy, naturo-electropathy, electro-homoeopathy, biochemic or alternative medicine like electro-magnetotherapy are recognised by the Medical Council of India or the Central Council of Homoeopathy or the Bharatiya Chikitsa Parishad for Ayurveda, or Central Council of Indian Medicine (a statutory body constituted under an Act of Parliament by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to regulate and recognise the standards of education in the Indian Systems of Medicine).

Admitting unwary school-leavers directly (without any entrance test) these fake one-room teaching shops offer diplomas and degrees in fancy–sounding therapies that will "qualify you to practise anywhere in India" for a few thousand rupees. Sheer bunkum. Don not touch them with a barge pole!

Education Loan

Q I aspire to study in the IITs. But due to financial constraints I cannot afford the fee. Can you tell me a way by which I could arrange my fees?

Hukum Singh

A All students enrolled in IIT-Delhi for BTech, dual degree (BTech+MTech) and MSc courses can apply to any bank, although IIT — Delhi has worked out a special arrangement with Oriental Bank of Commerce) for an educational loan (to cover tuition fee, equipment, books, stationery and travel, etc).

The student has to only repay the principal amount, and that too between 2-7 years after getting a job. The interest will be paid by IIT —Delhi Allumni Association. The main selection criteria being the student’s merit and economic status. The fee at IIT works out to Rs 20,000 per semester.


Q I passed my Class 12 from the commerce stream with 75 per cent marks but discovered that one needs to be a science student to be eligible for the merchant navy. So I worked really hard and passed the Class 12 science exams from NOS with 72 per cent marks. But now some of the training schools I have approached tell me that DGS does not accept NOS students. I am totally shattered.

Harpal Singh

A I can imagine how heartbreaking that must be for you!

You are right, the Directorate General of Shipping did have some apprehensions about the NOS science curriculum (particularly the "practicals"), but they have subsequently found it to be on a par with other regular boards.

This means that you can now happily proceed towards your dream career, as long as you meet the mandatory physical requirements.

Now that the decks are cleared, just keep a close watch on recruitment ads issued by shipping companies in newspapers and apply to them directly. Or apply to DGS approved pre-sea training academies as and when they advertise. Here’s wishing you all the best for your future.