I've been posting the Vocal Exercise of the Week videos over the last couple of months, but I've been neglecting the other side of what public speaking is all about: the words themselves.
Writing a speech is similar to any other piece of writing in the sense that we all have certain expectations about the form, or shape, that a piece should take. When you're giving a speech - whether it's about quantum physics or the love of your life - you are, in essence, telling a story. Following this basic pattern is a good way to plot the key moments of your speech or presentation, and from there you can get creative with the detail that sets your story apart as unique.
What are your key plot points? Where does your story reach its climax? How do you want it to end? Using this basic structure is a great way of getting your thoughts in order before you begin writing your speech. The beginning is often the most difficult, as you're usually trying to extract the important content from a mass of jumbled thoughts and ideas. Keep it simple! After that you can embellish to your heart's content.
I called this blog 'A Shout in the Dark' for a number of reasons.
The first being, quite simply, that I love puns. The second being - less simply, perhaps - that I feel that any venture on the vast and shadowy terrain of the internet feels a bit like speaking into an unknown and unknowable void, and that's often how I imagine it must be for people who are terrified of public speaking to take their first step onto the stage. Even as the spotlight shines upon them, and the faces turn in their direction, the light shrinks away and the faces, while still present, turn shadowy and menacing. Or perhaps I'm projecting. That was how it often felt for me, at least, when I started out in drama school, and began my venture into the world of acting, joining the audition circuit like so many other hopefuls.
The final reason I chose it, is that I thought the title went nicely with my picture of the looming lighthouse at Dun Laoighaire, and its intermittent beam. There's something in the suspended pause between each burst of light, something that catches the breath; both with a terror of the darkness it leaves you with, and a longing for the promise of light. As a child, I used to watch the lighthouse at night from my window on violent nights, wondering who also sought its beam on its swing around the tower, and how they felt when it was turned away from them, and shining for me.
There are times when we seek out the spotlight, and other times when the spotlight finds us, and in each case we ought to try and arm ourselves as best we can to avoid being blinded.
RM Clarke is a writer and voice-over artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.