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Giving a formal speech is a challenge to many people especially if English is not their first language. The art of passing information in form of a speech varies according to many underlying factors. These factors range from the targeted audiences to the prevailing context in which the speech is being made. As a speaker prepares a speech, he or she must bear in mind its aim. A speech given to an organized audience will need careful choice of words and thematic organization. Academic speech falls into this category. It requires systematic presentation of information in the past tense. Unlike conversational speech, academic talk demands that facts are sought before the final presentation is made. At an event that the speech seeks presenter's opinion, the ideas in a presentation must make reasonable and logical sense. This is one of the important features that distinguishes academic speech from conversational one (Nunan and Carter, 2001).
As stated earlier, one feature of academic speech is the choice of words. A conversational speech which would rather be given as an academic talk has to undergo a number of transformations in respect to the kind of words used. Words which are casually used must be changed into formal sounding phrases so as to maintain thematic expressions of the speech. As an illustration, presenter must replace phrases like 'hi guys' with 'good morning ladies and gentlemen' for his speech in order to sound formal enough. Words which generate amusement can be used with a purpose of breaking monotony as well as recapturing the audiences' attention. This will help to distinguish between an informal comedy and official academic speech (Rodenburg, 2009).
In addition, the tone of speech is to be maintained by seeking the opinion of respondents while at the same time not needing an immediate response. Another resounding difference between academic and conversational speeches is the manner in which the introduction is made. In a formal scenario like a keynote address, the presenter is introduced by the moderator or any other person. This will call for a prior knowledge by the speaker which may be sought in books or on a one on one interview.
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Generally, a formal speech is different from mere conversations in the way it is arranged. It reflects a chronological organization of information starting from an articulate introduction. Detailed body of a speech comprises of a precise concentration on the subject matter. It finally culminates in a conclusion which draws inferences from its introduction and the body. On the other hand, conversational speech does not follow any order. Anybody can be audience or speaker at any given time.
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