By Anote Ajeluorou
Public speaking is one activity that gives a lot of people real scare; they feel they are not cut out for it. They just cannot manage it essentially because of lack of confidence and inability to face an audience with confidence. But for those who have mastered the art of speaking in public, there is no telling the immeasurable pleasure it gives.
However, for those who still grapple with the how, what and where of public speaking, help may have come in the form of a practical, hands-on book for them to master the delicate art. A London-based Nigerian, Kolarele Sonaike, trained in the field of philosophy, political science and law, has released How to Give A Great Speech (Great Speech Co, London; 2010).
Although only a few copies of the book have come to Nigeria, Sonaike said in a recent conversation that even those copies sold faster than he had imagined. This has motivated him to come back home to really promote the book as a way of filling a void in the area of public speaking. It was also his desire to fill this void, which he saw while carrying out his mentorship work as an attorney that started him out in the first place.
Although, Sonaike was sceptical about the success of How to Give A Great Speech in Nigeria, he, nevertheless, spoke about the flare Nigerians have at getting up to speak at the least prompting, which he attributed to confidence and self-assurance. “Genuinely” he argued, “Nigerians like to speak. In terms of day-to-day ability to engage the audience, the level is higher here in Nigeria. I attribute it to confidence. We as a people, as a nation, have much confidence; we are much more willing to stand up and speak. Nigerians like to speak; they are willing to speak in public. But how can we make the art better so we get the right things said and in their proper place? The weakness is that we may not have something valuable to say when we get the chance. People may be talking but not really having anything serious to say. The book tells how to make what we want to say three times more powerful”.
As a barrister and a mediator, Sonaike stated that he found himself in situations where he has had to make a lot of speeches. Also, being the vice president of 100 Black Men of London, a global mentoring group, he has had to mentor and anchor training to a lot of young people and adults alike. His role involves “teaching them how to speak, give speeches in different contexts; and people ask me to write speeches for them to deliver.
“So, writing and giving speeches just developed as something natural for me to go into, and as a useful alternative to being a barrister. It also enabled me to try something new”.
But Sonaike has also further equipped himself for his second role in speech writing and speaking as he yearly receives training as a barrister. He said he has also read other masters in the field of public writing and speaking to have developed himself fully enough to be a seasoned mentor.
But it was while trying to equip himself in the art of public speaking that he perceived a void in the field. He could not find a books that spelt out how to start writing or speaking, where to finish if you manage to start, and the in-between the start and finish. Moreover, some of the book in the field appeared too academic or pedagogical for the average reader to take the trouble to read. It was his quest, therefore, to fill this void that led him to write this easy-to-read steps on how to write a great speech and deliver it successfully.
The book is divided into three sections starting with how a speech is prepared, how to write a speech and how to deliver it effectively. Sonaike is confident about the value of his book, saying, “There is no book on specifics of speech writing out there for anyone to use. My book is about how to start, and things to do. There isn’t any book that is as detailed as mine, that takes the reader through the steps to take to writing and delivering that great speech”.
He affirmed that his book is targeted at a global audience, and that he has used examples from Europe, where he is based, the United States and even Nigeria. To him, the elements of public speaking are essentially the same everywhere.
One enchanting thing about the book, according to the author, is the manner he has presented his materials for the readers. “I tried to write the book in a way I want to read it, and to entice people. The chapters are short and the points laid out nicely”.
The first 100 hundred copies he sent ahead of him got sold out in three months. Now, Sonaike said he was convinced there is genuine interest in such mentorship materials in the country; and together with his ‘The Great Speech Consultancy’, he is willing to set up sh