Carol Ann Wilson

This strange-sounding formula stands for "Six Rules for Clear Verbal Communication." Studies have shown that people's greatest fear (after the dentist, of course) is public speaking. This formula will work in all cases, whether it's a report at a legal secretaries meeting, a presentation to a Sunday School Class, a seminar or workshop speech, or a lawyer's argument before a judge or tribunal. See if these six rules won't work for you.

1. Organize. Organize your thinking, then organize the information you will be using in your presentation. Work with three–not more than five–most important points. Preparation is the key, and an outline will help you to stay with your plan.

2. Use common, everyday words wherever possible. In your final edit of those most important points, check for words you would not use in conversation and ask yourself if you should make a substitution. Practice in front of a mirror and use a tape recorder. You will be surprised, and it can only lead to improvement. When it's time to give the speech, tell your audience what you will cover and then furnish the details.

3. Make a place for audience participation. This may be by a showing of hands, a reference to something personal to your audience, or a more interactive technique like Q&A, but this is a proven way to keep your audience's attention. If the speech is an oral argument in court, early in your remarks use an opinion the judge or panel has written.

4. Use written notes. If you read your speech, make it seem as if you are speaking without notes, but make sure you have this backup, that you have reviewed them dozens of times so you know where everything is on the page, and that you could "wing it" if you lost them. Use a large-sized font, at least triple-spaced, and emphasize the important buzzwords in bold.

5. Summarize. After you have finished with the details, summarize your most important points again so that your audience will remember.

6. Quit early. Don't overstay your welcome. If you've been asked to speak for 15 minutes, don't go past 12. If you have been allowed 20 minutes for oral argument, After your thorough preparation in steps 1 and 2, your speech is ready. Make your points, deliver them well, and sit down. A good speech is one that leaves the audience wanting more.