Public Speaking 101: Learning the Art of Public Speaking

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Glossophobia, aka the fear of public speaking, affects over 70% of people. The fear of public speaking ranks number one on the list of common fears ahead of spiders, death and cockroaches. But, why do so many people fear public speaking? What can you do to overcome that fear and anxiety that overcomes you when you have to address the crowd at an event? Fortunately, you can learn the art of public speaking and get over your fear.

Why Learn the Art of Public Speaking?

Public speaking shows up in so many areas of your life that not learning the skill is a disservice to yourself. You might be wondering, ‘why is public speaking important?’. Well, you will encounter public speaking topics in business and personal relationships and improve your confidence. Let’s look at how the art of public speaking affects your life:

1. Professional Success

Sometimes your ability to speak boldly to groups of people can affect your professional career for the better. With more experience, you will see your confidence getting better and better. A bold speech will convince people of your expertise even more, especially in a professional environment. 

In corporate environments, you need to know how to negotiate. Negotiation depends on how well you can pass your message across and your self-assurance. You can learn all these skills by merely getting better at the art of public speaking. 

Collaboration is key to professional and workplace success. You will get better results when your team is in sync, and your work moves on smoothly. Effective collaboration depends on:

i. Ability to Speak

Clear and concise communication is essential for professional collaboration. You need to know how to express yourself politely and plainly to your colleagues. Your speech also has to be engaging enough to keep their attention.

ii. Ability to Write

Writing is another form of communication you have to master. Know when to keep things short and sharp, and when you need to go into details. 

iii. And the Quality of Your Ideas

Good ideas take the front row seat in professional environments. You need to have great ideas before you can be an effective collaborator. 

Fig 1: Importance of public speaking
Source: PAN Communications

2. Acting and Theater

Acting and public speaking are different, and yet so similar. Both acts borrow techniques from each other, so improving in one can help you improve your skills in the other. For example, an actor has to know how to take on a role and convince the audience that it’s real.

When you watch someone like Christian Bale play Batman, you’re supposed to see the character and not the person. At that moment, he becomes an entirely different person. In public speaking, you also have to put up an act. You won’t be playing an entirely different person, but you have to persuade your audience to believe what you’re saying.

Actors should know how to move their audience, much like public speakers. Influential people have made speeches that changed the trajectory of world history. As villainous as he was, Hitler was an accomplished orator. His speeches could move people to tears, and they helped to build him the army he needed to conquer most of Europe. 

3. Make Money

You can have a side career as a public speaker and make money as you go. Many people charge per speech, and some get paid exorbitant amounts for speaking. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton amassed a whopping 153 million dollars from speaking gigs. How much you charge mostly depends on your social capital and reputation.

Most public speakers earn money by speaking at public seminars or workshops. They get paid per speech while building their reputation as a speaker. If you work in, say marketing or sales, you can conduct workshops for companies. You can get paid for each session or per trainee. With the experience and fame, you can hold a physical or an online public speaking course.

Keynote speakers are probably the highest-earning public speakers. To be a keynote speaker at an event, you need to be notable in your field. You can be a keynote speaker as if you’re an Entrepreneur, Founder, Executive, or Academic that is considered an expert in your field.

4. Establish Yourself as a Leader

Effective communication is a vital part of leadership. Speaking in front of an audience can get you into leadership positions and groups where you will be perceived as a ‘natural leader’. Wouldn’t you find it easier to advance your career when you’re skilled at making yourself heard? 

Public speaking training gives you a platform to showcase your knowledge as an expert in your field. People are more likely to respect and look up to you if you’ve shown your speaking skills in important events. Good leaders know how to address large groups comfortably and engagingly. 

Choosing Your Style (Different Kinds of Speakers)

1. Speaker

A speaker addresses an audience. They can give any type of speech, depending on the occasion. Most are keynote speakers or motivational speakers, and their main aim is to pass a message across. Speakers usually have some sort of public speaking training that qualifies them to address a variety of audiences. The primary objective of a speaker is to introduce public speaking topics to their audience in an engaging manner.

2. Facilitator

A facilitator is a fancy name for an organizer. Facilitators put events together and get everything running smoothly. They handle the details of the event, especially the speakers and addresses. A facilitator at an academic event is responsible for the professors, lecturers, and presenters that will speak at the event.

What makes a facilitator different from the event planner is that a facilitator can speak at those events. They are like the mediators that make sure the group achieves their goals and objectives. A facilitator can put together an employee workshop, a seminar for job seekers, and even the art of public speaking courses.

3. Moderator

If you’ve ever attended a debate, you would know who a moderator is. That person who enforces rules and makes sure everybody gets a word in is a moderator. Moderators come in between opposing parties and give them the floor to make their points without overshadowing the other party.

Students and politicians hold debates frequently, and they always have moderators. A good moderator captures the audience’s attention and refocuses it to the speaking party at appropriate times. The moderator acts as a judge and ensures decorum and fairness.

4. Entertainer

Standup comedians come to mind immediately when you think of an entertainer. The truth is that entertainers are as versatile as they come. Their main job is to entertain and amuse their audience.

An entertainer holds attention with engaging speech and a dash of humor. You can be an entertainer outside of comedy. Don’t believe me? How many times have you watched someone give a presentation at a meeting? Or negotiate with clients? Even teachers have to entertain their class; otherwise, they will lose their interest. 

5. Emcee

An emcee has to be charismatic, funny, and engaging. They guide the audience and keep them focused on the event and possibly speakers. In an event multi-programmed event, the audience can get distracted or bored. The emcee keeps track of every speaker and introduces them to the audience, using their public speaking training.

Emcees work mostly in weddings, ceremonies, and shows, but serious events require emcees too. Next time you have a sales pitch, introduce every speaker with appropriate humor. You will see an immediate effect.

6. Teacher

Yes, teachers are public speakers too. And no, they don’t all work in classrooms. A teacher works to educate their class and impart knowledge. That class can be members of a team, and you, the manager, can be the teacher. As long as you’re teaching them and guiding their work, you’re a teacher. 

Teachers also apply the art of public speaking techniques to their lectures. Anyone can teach, and with the right public speaking coach, you can learn how to become a public speaker.

7. Coach

A coach is like a teacher but in a more personal way. They don’t all work in the field and play sports. There are life coaches, career coaches, academic coaches for grad students, and leadership coaches. After getting some public speaking training, you can become a public speaking coach holding an online public speaking course or workshop.

Different Types of Speeches

1. Informative Speech

You use informative speeches to educate people about specific topics. An informative speech doesn’t care about opinions because it is based on studies and relevant information. If you’re asked to speak about the art of public speaking, for example, you don’t need to preach about how good they are. Instead, you need good public speaking informative speech topics, then outline a speech using relevant facts or statistics, and finally make the speech entertaining using humor, public speaking quotes, or stories.

An informative speech should present complicated ideas in a simpler form. An example of an informative speech is a lecture or presentation by a student or a lecturer. Informative speeches also don’t contain many visual aids; they depend on facts and data.

2. Persuasive Speech

A persuasive speech can be successful or not, regardless of how well-written and factual it is. Persuasive speeches rely on the speaker’s charisma and ability to tell a story. You still need facts to back up your claim, but only facts that make your claim more believable. Most public speaking persuasive speech topics appeal to the emotions of their audience. You need to connect with your audience to give a convincing persuasive speech.

You can find the best examples of persuasive speeches among people that work in marketing and sales. Influential people use persuasive speeches to their advantage. The next time you’re in a sales pitch or a contract pitch, pay attention, and you will see that you’re listening to a persuasive speech.

3. Ceremonial Speech

There isn’t much difference between a ceremonial speech and a special occasion speech. Only that a ceremonial speech is a bit more formal than a special occasion speech. Ceremonial speeches are given during events, like a college graduation ceremony or an award ceremony. 

Ceremonial speeches are formal since they are used to commemorate important events. They are typically brief and straight to the point. Examples of such speeches are introductory speeches, eulogies, award acceptance speeches, and tributes.

4. Demonstrative Speech

Have you ever witnessed a product launch where the founders describe how to use the product, its specifications, and its advantages? If you have seen one or given one, then you know what a demonstrative speech is all about. If you don’t know, a demonstrative speech is one that teaches an audience about something they haven’t heard of before. Demonstrative speeches use the art of public speaking techniques to answer how-to questions.

A lot of speakers use visual aids in their speeches to demonstrate their points in more practical ways. If you have to present a product or a new idea, then demonstrative speech is the way to go. You need to base your speech on facts, but using visual aids is what elevates a demonstrative speech. 

Fig 2: Four types of speeches
Source: Venngage

5. Motivational Speech

If you had to think about a memorable speech you have heard, the chances are it was a motivational speech. Motivational speakers cut to the soul of their audience and make them feel like they can do anything. A motivational speech is a rousing address that seeks to energize the audience and give them the confidence to achieve their goals. 

Motivational speeches are very emotional and centered on improving the abilities of the audience. It is persuasive, but it uses emotions rather than appealing to logic. A coach giving his team a speech before a big game; Manager giving the team a pep talk before a big assignment; Teachers encouraging their students to do well before an exam or Employers boosting their employee’s moods at the beginning of the workweek. 

A lot of self-help books contain motivational speeches. Motivational speeches are everywhere, and the right public speaking training can teach you how to become a public speaker and do it professionally.

6. Impromptu Speech

You’re sitting by yourself in one of your Ph.D. classes, and the professor calls you from nowhere. They ask you to talk at length about one of the topics of discussion on the spot. That is an impromptu speech. A speech you are not prepared for, but you are called to give. An impromptu speech is not technically a type of speech. It is more like a situation where you have to give a speech. You can be called up to give any other kind of speech.

When you ask, “why is public speaking important?” remember the impromptu speech. It is a potentially embarrassing situation if you find yourself lost. That is why you need to prepare beforehand. If you have mastered the art of public speaking, you will have little problem coming up with a speech on the spot.

7. The Debate

If you were formally educated, then you likely have seen a debate or participated in one. Typically, two opposing teams state facts to support their position on the debate topic. The difference between a debate and public speaking persuasive speech topics is that a debate seeks to justify a claim and not necessarily convince the audience to follow suit. An example of the debate could be ‘why is public speaking important?’

Debates are quite informative, but again, they differ from public speaking informative speech topics. Debaters have strongly held views, while informative speakers only state objective facts regardless of their opinions. You can’t be sure of what your opponent will say, so you can only prepare with presumptions. This sharpens your public speaking techniques.

8. Forensic Speech

The term ‘forensic’ has nothing to do with crime in this case. The name came from the competitions the pattern of speech is designed after. The American Forensic Association came up with this term based on a widespread practice in many schools in America. High school and college students study debate and the art of public speaking as a regulated activity.

These students study and rehearse speeches based on public speaking informative speech topics and present it to their audience. Sometimes, they hold formal and informal competitions within and outside their school. Forensic speeches benefit the speaker more because it helps to develop their public speaking techniques. They also benefit people that want to learn how to become a public speaker.

9. Special Occasion Speech

Any speech you give at an occasion is a special occasion speech. You can speak at weddings, bachelor parties, bar mitzvahs, or birthday parties. That speech you were called upon to give at your last office party was a special occasion speech.

You should always keep a special occasion speech short. Some special occasion speeches may be serious, like a graduation ceremony. But, these speeches aim to mark noteworthy events. You’re not there to convince, educate, or persuade anybody.

Fig 3: Two types of speakers
Source: HowcanIsaythis.com

The Basics of the Art of Public Speaking

1. Speech Writing

The key to giving a good speech is writing a great one. Speech writing takes time to master. Like every skill, you need practice and experience before you can come up with a worthy speech. But you need to know the basics of speech writing first. 

Every great speech starts with an overview. You need to answer the basic questions;

  • What the speech is about, which is the topic of the speech,
  • Who you’re giving the speech to, which is the audience, and
  • How long you have to give the speech.

Let’s say the title of your speech is ‘why is public speaking important ?’ Your speech should then be focused on adding interesting public speaking topics, public speaking quotes, and other public speaking informative speech topics. You can also add in information like where to get public speaking courses, how to find public speaking classes near me, and how to get a public speaking coach.

You assume that your audience member is concerned with how to become a public speaker, so you try to solve that issue for them. You can even add more helpful information like where to register for an online public speaking course. These questions will determine the structure and content of your speech. You will also save time and energy in writing the speech, and give you an organized speech. 

2. Speech Practice

You don’t need a public speaking coach to tell you to practice before giving any speech. Let’s say you have to present your academic research after months of research. If your presentation is disjointed and poorly delivered, nobody will feel convinced that you wrote it yourself. 

Your aim should be to sound natural and confident while delivering your speech. Be ready to practice as many times until you stop sounding like you memorized the speech. You can practice your public speaking persuasive speech topics in front of a mirror and to a few friends. Practice with something distracting so you can be prepared for anything during the actual speech.

3. Speaking Voice

You may know this, but your voice can impact your delivery significantly. Remember all the speeches you have heard over the years. Which ones were you able to connect with and understand? Whatever your answer, it certainly won’t be the ones where the speaker rushed through the speech. Or the ones that were mumbled too slowly for you pick what the speaker was saying.

Make sure you adopt a slow and measured pace. Use a self-assured tone to inspire confidence in your audience. Modulate your tone whenever relevant and emphasize important points. Think, would you take public speaking courses from someone that sounds unsure of what they’re saying? Thought so.

4. Starting Your Speech with a Hook

Start strong. Always begin an attention-grabbing statement. It could be a story, a quote, or a statistic relevant to the topic. Notice the public speaking quotes at the beginning of this article. It makes you want to read on. You’ll get the same effect in your presentation.

You don’t want to miss the chance to grab their attention at the very beginning of the speech. Begin your speech with the main points of your speech. Then, spend the rest of the speech going into detail about your points. This article goes into more detail on how to start your speech.

5. Visual Aids

Statistics show that people remember only 10% of verbal data after 3 days. But people remember 65% of verbal and visual data. Visual aids will grab and retain your audience’s attention better than what you say, regardless of how well you speak. You will also find yourself connecting better with them. And you know your audience listens better when they relate with you.

You, too, will benefit from using visual aids. Graphic images and videos will jog your memory when you need it, rather than looking at your written speech constantly. Remember that your primary aim with public speaking persuasive speech topics is to convince your audience.

6. The Substance of Your Speech

As every public speaking coach will tell you, you can’t deliver a great speech if you don’t have one. The substance of your speech is the main topic and center of your speech. Your speech should contain the main essence you want to deliver, alongside other relevant topics that add to your speech. Start with a speech template. Every speech should have a structure listing out the important areas where you need to focus on.

Write a good introduction and a great summary. The primary substance of the speech belongs in the body of the speech. Make sure you fill it with accurate and relevant studies, research, and figures that will make it more interesting and engaging for your audience. Make sure that you write from an audience point of view by consciously helping them visualize what you are saying.

7. Ending Your Speech

Your ending will remain in the minds of your audience long after the speech, and you want it to be profound. End with something reflective or philosophical that will get them thinking. It can be a story or call to action. Ask yourself how you want your audience to feel at the end of your speech and give them something to steer them in the right direction.

8. Analyzing Your Speech

After putting your speech together, you need to go through it and ensure that it meets all the requirements. Your aim should be a speech that everyone should understand. You should focus on the following factors:

  1. Filler words: The ‘uhs’ and ‘umms’ you make during a speech will make you sound unsure of what you’re saying. Try to eliminate as much of them as possible.
  2. Rate of speech: You have a time frame to give your speech. Make sure you can give your speech within that time without having to increase or reduce your average conversational pace.
  3. Confidence: Confidence is a key point to take note of when you plan on speaking publicly. You need your speech to match your confidence level, so you don’t go on to give a mediocre speech.
  4. Clarity: Clarity of words is so important when speaking or writing a speech. Use transition words, so you don’t sound disjointed. Match your language to your audience. Also, do not use words they won’t readily understand, and try to speak using the correct terminology.
  5. Conciseness: Make sure you use shorter sentences and phrases. Don’t repeat talking points and follow your speech template. Be organized and don’t digress too far.
How to build confidence in public speaking
Source: Indian Link
Perfecting the art of public speaking
Source: Pan Communications

What are the Qualities of a Good Speech?

1. Entertaining or Interesting

Imagine you’re in the audience, and someone is delivering a speech. The speaker’s eyes light up when speaking, and he looks enthusiastic about the topic. Imagine he frequently relates the speech to an example from his life. You will want to keep listening to his speech.

The art of public speaking requires a lot of charisma and charm. It is a show, and you’re the main attraction. Your speech has to stir up feelings in your audience; fear, excitement, or wonder. Know how to get them animated, and they will understand the message faster. Pepper your speech with interesting anecdotes and funny stories to keep them engaged till the end.

2. Informal Touch

Adding a bit of an informal touch to your speech can make a world of difference. It makes it easier for your audience to relate to your message. When your audience sees you being a regular person on stage, it will help them connect to you. An audience that likes you is more likely to listen to you. Steve Rizzo built his speaking career using humor to engage his audience. Then, when he drops his heavy messages, the audience readily picks them up.

3. Brevity

Giving a concise speech within a short time is challenging for anybody. But people understand concise speeches better and faster. When speaking to an audience, focus on compressing 150 words into 50—the shorter your speech, the better. But, never sacrifice quality for length. Ensure that your speech has all the relevant information your audience needs in as little words as possible

4. Speaking at the Right Pace

Your voice can change the delivery of your message. Knowing when to raise it, tone it down, or make it more animated will help with your speech delivery. Learn to inject life into your voice. Project it so people can hear you better, and regulate your breathing. Barack Obama is one of the renowned speakers in the world. His secret is his voice. He knows how to switch it up to garner the right emotions from his listeners.

5. Conviction

A self-assured speaker automatically captures the audience’s attention. Conviction inspires trust and convinces your audience that you know exactly what you’re saying. It is normal to be nervous. Just avoid letting your audience know that you are. Nervousness makes a speaker look uncertain, and nobody wants to listen to someone like that. The best speeches look natural like the speaker is speaking from the heart.

6. Speaking at the Right Time

Knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet is a valuable skill. During a speech, some well-timed pauses can help you deliver your points better. Measure your speaking rate to add life to your speech. Repeat your key points a few times so it can stick in your audience’s memory.

7. Body Language and Gestures

Public speakers don’t speak with their voices only. Non-verbal cues are just as important in delivering a good speech. Your posture and body language can help you deliver a better speech. Stand tall, with your spine straight and your shoulders back. Avoid slouching; it makes you look lazy. 

Make eye contact with your audience. Use hand gestures, but avoid using them enough to be a distraction. Walk around your stage. It makes you look more interesting but avoid pacing. Illustrate your points with some positive gestures. According to Van Edwards, when you smile people will see you as more intelligent.

8. Unambiguity

If you use legal jargon when addressing a group of engineers, you will certainly lose your audience. Even if the audience is highly intelligent, you will lose them within minutes. Your speech has to be clear enough that your audience doesn’t get lost halfway through. Use simple words and familiar phrases. Don’t try to impress with your knowledge of complicated words; you will lose their interest.

The impact of a speech is in how the audience understands it. If your audience has to look up a dictionary while you speak, then you have failed in passing across your message. Read the room and frame your speech in a style that suits your audience best.

9. Interactive

Your speech should be interactive and engaging. You aim to hold your audience’s attention for the duration of your speech and prevent them from being distracted. You will find that it is easier to speak to an engaged audience that is interested in what you have to say. You can ask questions, get them to introduce themselves, or simply use an ice-breaker to make them feel more comfortable around you.

fear of public speaking statistics
Source: Giff Gaff

20 Fear of public speaking statistics

  1. Public speaking, also known as glossophobia is the number one fear in many countries
  2. Glossophobia affects 75% of people that already suffer from speech anxiety
  3. Many people have glossophobia because they are afraid to fail their audience
  4. A percentage of people with glossophobia fear being judged by their audience
  5. In 215, glossophobia was the number 4 fear of Americans. 
  6. 73% of American adults deal with a fear of public speaking at different levels
  7. 44% of women have a fear of public speaking, 7% more than men.
  8. Glossophobia affects people with lower levels of education more than degree holders
  9. 24% of college students experience a fear of public speaking
  10. The fear of public speaking is a social anxiety disorder
  11. Approximately 6% of Americans will be diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder
  12. 9.1% of children have a social anxiety disorder, one of which is glossophobia. 
  13. Severe glossophobia can increase your chance of heart disease by 26%.
  14. 23% of Australians fear public speaking more than death
  15. Many people who fear public speaking find it easier to speak to a smaller crowd.
  16. 1/3 of employees in the UK would refuse their dream job if they had to face their greatest fear.
  17. 67% of British people have glossophobia as their greatest fear
  18. Fear of public speaking has kept 56% of Britons away from applying for jobs
  19. Many employees in the UK haven’t mentioned their glossophobia to the company HR. Only 2% have.
  20. People with glossophobia make about 10% less than their peers

How to Break Bad Public Speaking Habits

Starting Your Speech Slowly

  • Begin your speech with a bang. Say something memorable and cut to the chase.

Putting too much Focus on Your Slides

  • Practice enough so you won’t need those slides. Make them a backup plan.

Going Off-topic During Your Speech

  • Make an organized template and stick to it. Try not to digress too far.

Not Using Visual Aids

  • Get yourself some appropriate visual aids to help your audience follow up.

Spending too much Time Explaining One Point

  • Keep it short and sweet. Focus on explaining your points in brief and straightforward ways.

Being too Rigid and Unemotional

  • Adopt a friendly appearance. Smile, and connect with your audience. Be charismatic.

Recording Your Speeches

Many public speakers don’t know this, but recording your speeches can be invaluable to you as a public speaker. It helps you get more fluent and comfortable speaking. It doesn’t matter that you’re essentially talking to yourself. You can gain many benefits from any of these recording mediums:

1. Video Recording

Staring into your camera’s lens can feel very much like talking to another person. You’d be surprised by how self-conscious it can make you feel. It will help you develop your demeanor. Seeing yourself speak will expose some inadequacies and help you build your carriage.

2. Audio Recording

Form the habit of recording yourself talk. You will notice so many things wrong with your speech the first few times. So, you can practice speaking better until you’re satisfied with the results.

How to Practice the Art of Public Speaking

1. Mirror

Practicing in front of a mirror is one of the oldest rehearsal methods. It is still relevant today. When you look at your reflection in the mirror, you can see yourself through the eyes of your audience. Many people have no idea what they look like when they are on stage, giving a speech.

Joey Asher constantly encourages public speakers to use mirrors in their practice. Using a mirror is the best way to learn to smile. With a mirror, you can practice until you get a good posture. Get an image that will make you feel confident.

2. Orai

Orai is a mobile app designed to make you excel at the art of public speaking. With Orai, you can monitor your speaking techniques and make changes anywhere necessary. You can record your speeches on Orai and get feedback on the quality of your speech.

Orai – AI Speech Coach

Orai rates your speech on conciseness, clarity, and quality. It picks out bad speech qualities like filler words. Orai is like a grammar checker but for spoken speeches.

3. Elsa Speak

Elsa Speak is an artificial intelligence language coach that teaches pronunciation. If you’re having problems with pronouncing certain words, Elsa Speak can help you get better. It has public speaking courses you can take that help your oratory skills. You can perfect your speaking skills within a short time.

Elsa for english pronunciation
Elsa for English pronunciation

Monetizing Your Speeches

When you first start out your journey to master the art of public speaking, you may not get paid engagements right off the bat. You should even expect to give free speeches. But you can find ways to make your public speaking training work for you and have this as an extra source of income. Here’s how:

1. Become a Leader in Your Space

Brian Tracy is one great example of someone who has firmly established himself in his field. He is a business expert, entrepreneur, author, and public speaker. He makes 6-figures yearly from speaking publicly as a motivational speaker.

2. Start an Online Public Speaking Course

You can take this a step further by organizing an online public speaking course. 

3. Start a Blog

Start a blog and get people interested in public speaking. Anyone that wants to learn how to become a public speaker can follow your blog. Make content with public speaking quotes, public speaking techniques, and other public speaking topics. Monetize the blog and get a new source of income.

4. Write a Book

You can write a book on the art of public speaking. Answer the frequently asked questions like ‘why is public speaking important?’ and ‘how to find public speaking classes near me.’

5. Become a Public Speaking Coach

You can have one-on-one classes with people or coach groups of people for a fee. Teach them how to become a public speaker and why is public speaking important.

6. Hold Events

You can hold your speaking events. This allows you to mingle with other public speakers and those who want to practice the art of public speaking, and develop your public speaking techniques.

7. Paid Ads

Advertise your services using physical and digital services. You can even advertise your online public speaking course on your blog. When people ask, ‘how can I find public speaking classes near me?’, you’ll direct them to your site.

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