Academic Speaking: Beyond the Language
By: Herri Mulyono
Academic speaking in many aspects is mostly similar to public speaking where a speaker is supposed to communicate his ideas effectively and understandably. Speaker’s language competence for many situations is viewed as the most factor affecting to the success of delivering any information effectively that audience can receive and understand every point meaningfully. However, there are conditions where audience either cannot enjoy speaker’s talk or even feel disregard the information which is being delivered although the language is performed in appropriate manner. These conditions figure out that there are other elements beyond the language which also contribute to the effective and understandable academic speaking: eye contact and body language. These two elements not only make our public speaking effective and understandable but also make it even better.
It is obvious already that eyes are often used to communicate particular ideas or information which cannot be brought out by a verbal language. As non verbal language, eye contact is often devised to arise audience’s emotional feeling on ideas which is being delivered. Even in some situations, speakers might use eye contact to build intimacy with their audience for the close-relation between speaker and the audience would be the profound alterative to maintain audience’s attention and understanding.
Having eye contact with audience does not only benefit the speaker in relation with their audience’s attention and understanding but also advantage the speaker himself. It is because when eye contact has been well maintained, speaker could gradually grow his self esteem.
Establishing eye contact might be the first task that speaker must cover up before delivering their speech to the audience. If the speaker succeed to engage his eye contact with the audience’s, then delivering their speech to the audience could be much easier. The 3 second method could be carried out for the speaker to maintain eye contact with his audience. The 3 second method means that after arriving at the stage, speaker might directly comes into the eyes of the audience for abut 3 seconds at time. This first eye contact is intended to lead to the involvement of audience into the following speech.
Body language speaks about more than half of overall presentation. This means that neglecting the role of body language in a speech might leave more than half of success in delivering information to the audience for the body language is mostly used to add particular information, make emphasis to the messages to the audience, or even to draw attention to the audience so that they are alerted to presentation or speech. Body language in an academic speaking comprises gesture, stance, and facial expression.
Gestures need to arise from the content of talk and fit both the circumstance and speaker’s own personal style. Hands that most speaker uses as of effective gesture, do not belong to his hips or in his pockets, or held behind his back. Hands are used to help speaker emphasize particular important point, express emotion or release tension towards ideas that presentation might covey, that all actions are to arrive at the engagement between the speaker and the audience. In addition, movements of eyes, mouth and other facial expression have to be directed to make a connection between speaker and the audience. They are also to convey the speaker’s feeling for the subject, reveal the depth of his concern to the audience, and build any other emotional interaction in the triangle lane, the speaker-the presentation-and the audience.
To sum, performing eye contact and body language might result on successful presentation or other speech for the eye contact and body language are able to establish audience’s attention and connection towards the presentation. Instead, the two elements of eye contact and body language could be brought out separately while both are part of integration in a speech. This means that eye contact and body language have to come at the same moment in a presentation to make it effective, efficient, and successful.