By Zaynab Oyedeji: A Cub Journalist, Radio Presenter and Upcoming Creative writer.
“Imagine being in a seminar and the first speaker mounts the podium and says, “Hello. Good day, all. Today, we will be discussing public speaking. Public Speaking is the art of…” and he or she keeps reading from his slides using a low pitched voice.
Picture another scenario, the speaker confidently stood at the lectern, points at the audience, and says, “Don’t speak above the audience, speak like you are with them!” and he or she paints a story or cites an example of how to persuade and make the audience listen to you before stating the topic of discussion and delving into it.
As an audience, which speech would you give your undivided attention?”
With an impressively clear enunciation, these words announced Ms Ejiro Umukoro’s deep expertise and explanatory power as she took the stage to speak on the topic, ‘The Power of Your Voice in Writing and Public Speaking’ during the LightRay Media training and mentoring programme held on Sunday, 11th October 2020. The Media Coach and Multi-award-winning Investigative Journalist and Broadcaster, Ejiro Umukoro demonstrated to the participants that the lead and intro of a speech or write up plays a key role in determining the audience reaction, whether to keep reading or listening or stop or tune out.
According to her, in Public speaking, the first few seconds are very crucial. They determine whether the listeners or audience will keep following your speech or not.
However, she said while the title and the first paragraph of any write up determine if you will grab the readers’ interest or not, the actual content must also be substantial to complement your speech delivery.
Creative Writing vs Journalism
Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature.
“It is a blend of imagination, fiction, art, and dare I add some good dose of storytelling based on facts, collected data, and anecdotes, knowledge, etc., that is ‘concocted’ to create a powerful story – the heartbeat of powerful writing,” Umukoro says.
On the other hand, she explains that journalism is the unbiased production and distribution of reports on current or past events based on facts and supported with proofs or shreds of evidence.
“As a writer, you need to learn a bit about creative writing in addition to your journalistic writing because the addition of both pulls your reader in and tells a factual story in a powerfully compelling way”.
As a broadcaster or public speaker, being creative drives your points home quickly, turns the speech into a one-on-one, and narrows the distance between the speaker and the audience.” She says.
Message and Medium
Each person’s style of writing and speaking depends on different media organisations and events. The way a newscaster will speak will be different from the way a motivational speaker will. Likewise, a journalist will write a news story and a feature story differently even if they are on the same topic.
She encouraged participants to always ask the following questions before writing or speaking:
Which medium am I writing or speaking for?
Does this organization’s style of writing fit my style or do I need to change and adopt theirs?
When to use Active or Passive voice?
Who are my audiences? etc.
The above questions and other related ones are very crucial and will guide your speaking and writing.
As a Writer or Speaker, you need to discover your unique style of writing and speaking and build on it to be the best.
One of the participants, Chiemeka Evans, said, “We don’t need to copy someone’s style of thinking that we don’t write well. No two editors, writers, broadcasters write or talk the same way. Our writing and speech have a way of revealing our individualities and/ or personalities”.
All in all
“When writing or speaking, your voice and choice of words are very important. It starts at what is driving you, your passion, your reason for writing, and speaking on a given issue. The most important craft as a journalist is to become a good storyteller with a strong editorial skillset and then, become a craft expert,” Ms Umukoro emphasises.
‘Practice makes Perfection’. To hone your writing and speaking skills, always write and speak well no matter where you are and who your audience is