Your demeanor has a lasting impact on your audience. Preparation is important here, in order to grab the listener’s attention. How can you best put your message across? Here are some useful ideas for keeping your presentations vivid:
Use examples or personal stories to bring your points to life. People love stories and a personal story will enhance your credibility on the subject. For all you know, there could be others in the audience who share similar experiences like yours. They will be able to relate to your personal stories. You will be able to forge a stronger emotional connection with your audience if they share similar experiences as yours.
Keep your body language up-beat. Use your hands, face and other aspects of your physiology to describe your point. Don’t stay stuck behind a lectern unless the nature of the speech or the available infrastructure requires you to remain stuck there. Try describing “round as a ball” using your hands.
Your non-verbal cues will be picked up by the audience, trust me. In 1967, Professor Albert Mehrabian conducted a study on communication. The findings of this study indicated that an audience will be able to decode the intent behind the speaker’s words from visual clues 55% of the time. This is the importance of having proper physiology while speaking.
Don’t talk too fast. Less is more. Speaking too fast forces your audience to process your information at an accelerated pace. This will make them mentally tired too soon. Once they become tired, they will no longer concentrate on your speech. Pauses are effective. Pause before an important point to build suspense and get their attention. Pause after an important point to allow them to absorb, understand or consider your message. On the flip side, speaking too slowly will also put your crowd to sleep. So how fast should you speak? Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule on this matter. It depends on many factors. It’s interesting to note that if you want to create an audio book, your publisher will most likely ask you to speak between 150 – 160 words per minute. This speaking rate appears to coincide with a research done on the speaking rate of famous people here.
Use a variety of tones of voice like a radio deejay. Your voice is like a musical instrument. Use it well to enthrall your listeners. Some speakers are not willing to vary their vocal tonality because our vocal tonality indicates our emotional state. By not showing their emotions, they think they look more dignified or regal. Well, I leave it to you to decide. The more emotional blockages you have, the more you will be unwilling to provide vocal variety in your speech. The less vocal variety, the more boring you are going to be.
The same research by Professor Albert Mehrabian also concluded that an audience will be able to decode the intent behind the speaker’s words from the tone of voice 38% of the time. Therefore, your vocal tonality will play an important part in spicing up your speech.
Use visual aids if necessary. A visual aid could be a physical item, slides, flip charts or even yourself. If you are speaking on physical fitness or health, you better make sure that your body is a credible visual aid 🙂 The important thing about a visual aid is it must enhance your message or help your audience to understand your point better. Otherwise, the visual aid could work against you by either breaking the flow of your speech or distracting your audience. Therefore, use it wisely.
Public speaking, although daunting, can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, once sufficient time is taken to prepare and rehearse. An enthusiastic speaker who is confident with their material will make a memorable impression on their audience.