Using Appropriate Words in a Speech

The selection of perfect words can be a challenge for some people. They get confused in the selection of different words during their speech. That is one of the reasons why they feel hesitant to speak in public. However, as a speaker, debater or a presenter, words play an important role in your overall speech.

They also act as tools for your impression while delivering a speech. If you are great at combining words together at the right spot, you for sure can achieve what is required in a best speech. It is not at all a big positive mark to avoid learning how to combine different words together. If you are good at combination of words, you could be more effective by learning them even in a more refined form. You need to learn some of the basics for how to use appropriate words in your speech.

Less Is More

If you want to remember your speech, you might go for having short sentences in your speech. Avoid long combinations of words that are separated by sentence connectors. Examples of sentence connectors include “and”, “so”, “actually”, “but”, “however”, etc. Such sentences are just too long to remember in their right order. You should know that long sentences just lose your audience’s attention towards your speech. Also, if you use long sentences, your audience gets confused whether to focus on the first part of your sentence or on the last part. Making use of short sentences in your speech helps you to interact with your audience easily. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you use short sentences to make your speech effective.

Avoid Jargon

Another important point to focus at is to avoid the usage of terminologies, slang, abbreviations and jargon in your speech. However, if it is absolutely necessary to include jargon, do explain a little bit about the meaning of the word in order for your audience to follow your speech.

However, if you are addressing a specific group of people who are familiar with the jargon you plan to use, then it’s perfectly okay to use it. For example, if you are explaining a medical concept to doctors, you will be expected to use technical terms related to the medical profession.

Avoid Pause Fillers

More often, speech deliverers have the tendency of adding casual words like “umfh”, “aah” and “aee”. These words are distracting towards the audience. Usually, these words indicate that the speech deliverer is either confused or is not feeling comfortable enough to deliver the speech. You need to try to exclude these words as much as you can in order to prevent your audience from losing attention. A simple way to eliminate these pause fillers is to speak slowly. The mouth has the tendency to speak faster than the brain can think. When this happens, the brain suddenly goes blank…and guess what…in come the speech crutches such as “ah”, “um”, “er”, etc.

Avoid Foul Language

Some speech deliverers think that the usage of foul words is supposedly “cool”. Trust me, the usage of such language only goes to show that the speaker has got bad upbringing. A well-schooled speaker will have an arsenal of refined vocabulary up his sleeve which can be utilized to convey any message effectively.

Your choice of words should ideally be generic in nature. This means that you should be able to deliver the same speech in front of your family, bosses, customers or friends without feeling embarrassed about your choice of words.

Usage of Homonyms

Homonyms are words that share the same pronunciation but may have different meanings. An example of homonyms are stalk (part of a plant) and stalk (follow/harass a person) and left (past tense of leave) and left (opposite of right).

If you have an accent which is deemed foreign to your audience, it is best to avoid homonyms as you will most likely confuse your audience with your pronunciation. If you really have got no choice but to use a homonym, make your message clear by using hand gestures or body movement to emphasize your words.

If you will follow these basic rules in your speech, you would definitely excel in your communication skills. All the best to you in your next presentation. I wish you well.

Four Different Ways to Reach Your Audience

There are four different ways in which your audience will assimilate information. They are: visual, auditory, auditory digital, and kinaesthetic. While your listeners will process information using all four of these approaches at different times, each person will tend to depend on one of these approaches more than the other three.

Therefore, if you want to reach into the heart and souls of everyone in the room, you will need to employ all four approaches.

Visual

Do you like to present with props, flip charts, PowerPoint or video clips? If you do, you are probably a visual presenter yourself.

Such people memorize and learn by seeing pictures and are less distracted by noise as compared to others. They will quickly lose concentration by long, verbal presentations as their minds begin to wander. They are fascinated in how your presentation appears. They like it when you use picture painting phrases like “see the blue sky, look across the room, envision standing on top of a hill, imagine driving a Ferrari, etc.” in your presentation as these words encourage them to make pictures in their minds.

Therefore, in order to reach out to these people, you will need to employ a lot of vivid imagery in your sentences.

Auditory

When I attend seminars, I hate to take notes. If I do take notes, I will most likely not refer to them anyway. I like to listen to the speaker. Guess which category do I fall into? You guessed right. I am an auditory person.

People like me are easily distracted by any noises occurring during the presentation. These audience members learn by listening. Your vocal tonality and vocal quality will be very important with these people. Phrases that resonate well with people in this class include “hear me, listen to him, the sound of rain, I could resonate with her ideas, etc.”

As such, in order to connect with such an audience, you will need to vary your speech according to the pitch, tone, volume and rate.

Auditory Digital

This kettle of fish spend a good amount of time in their heads talking to themselves. They memorize and learn by steps, processes, and structures.

They want to see a proper or logical flow in your presentation. Your presentation has to make “sense” to their sense 🙂 Words that will make “sense” to these group include “sense, experience, understand, think, motivate, and decide.”

It would be helpful to use Gantt Charts, Excel Spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides to help your audience along under such circumstances.

Kinaesthetic

These are the “feeling” guys. They often speak very slowly in order to feel their own words.

They learn by keenly doing something and deriving the actual feeling of it. They are attracted towards a presentation that “feels right” or gives them a “gut feeling.” Phrases that are effective with such listeners include “I felt happy, she touched my heart, I grasped his hand, they were elated, etc.”

When telling a sad story or speaking in a loving manner to your loved ones, it is a good idea to go into the kinaesthetic mode in order to “touch” the soul of your audience.

Now that you have gained a deeper insight into the visual, auditory, auditory digital and kinaesthetic audience, you will know exactly how to effectively deliver your message across to them.

All the best to you in your next presentation

Breaking Old Patterns & Building New Confidence

From time to time we need to build our confidence and self-esteem to a higher level. How we feel about ourselves internally plays a big role in portraying that confident image externally.

All of us have got unique talents and gifts. Henry Ford, the inventor of cars put it this way:

“All Ford cars are exactly alike, but no two individuals are just alike. All new life is a new thing under the sun; there was never anything similar to it before and there never will be again. Young people ought to grasp that concept about themselves; they should look for the single spark of individuality that makes them dissimilar from other people, and develop that for all he or she is worth. Society and schools may try to remove it from them. Society and schools will try to put everyone in the same mould, but I say don’t lose that spark; it is the individual’s only real claim to importance.”

As such, it is important to acknowledge our unique skills and talents. Acknowledging them will help us think like a winner. Here is an easy way you can train yourself to break your old patterns and build new confidence.

Create a ‘to do’ list.


Now, this isn’t an ordinary “to do” list. This is a simplistically stupid “to do” list. The purpose of this list is to get you out of your rut and move your forward towards becoming a winner.

So let’s look at this simplistically stupid “to do” list. Note that the words in bold is a compulsory action. It is compulsory because I know you’ll never normally do this. Doing something abnormal will help you break your pre-set patterns. Therefore, have faith and just do it.

  1. Roll out of bed.
  2. Check your emails, Whatsapp and SMS messages.
  3. Bathe.
  4. Brush your teeth.
  5. Shave. Yes, find something to shave and shave it.
  6. Eat something.
  7. Eat something else.
  8. Run to your car or to another room.
  9. Laugh.
  10. Deliver an inspirational speech.

Are you feeling weird? If you are, very good. The weird feeling occurs because you are about to step out of your comfort zone. These activities will help you break your regular thought patterns. This is a type of self-conditioning list. When you see all those check marks crossed off your list you will feel like you had a productive day. You will see yourself moving forward but in a different direction. You’ll acquire confidence in your abilities to achieve your desires. Trust yourself, you will begin to see yourself as a winner.

As ridiculous as this pattern breaking cum confidence building list making may seem, be aware that your subconscious mind doesn’t care about what is real or fake. All it will see is a list that has been checked off every day. In a matter of time, you’ll observe yourself feeling more confident. Then you can begin adding real tasks to your list and doing them with the similar ‘feel good’ vibrations you had when you made your simplistically stupid lists.

Don’t add too many, in the beginning. Camouflage the real items you want to achieve with your simplistically stupid ones. The reason you wouldn’t want to make a drastic shift in list writing is that feeling great is a crucial element of building your confidence.

Allow yourself the joy of having fun with life. You’ll feel like a winner!

Bringing Your Presentations To Life

Presentation skills are the tools that enable us to bring a page of written text to spoken life. They are the means by which we animate words, infuse interest and develop rapport with the audience. Master the following 6 presentation techniques and you’ll have your listeners clinging to every word you utter.

Speak To Their Ears

Generally, people are taught to write for the eyes. For example, when writing a book you are writing for the eyes. However, when writing a speech the writing style has to change. Remember, your listeners will receive your words through their ears. As such you should continually ask yourself, “how will this sound to my listeners?”

Specifically speaking, check for:

The usage of technical jargon. Avoid them. Technical jargon is best avoided when speaking to a general crowd consisting of people from different walks of life. When your audience does not understand a particular jargon, they will dwell on that word for a few seconds trying to understand its meaning. As such, you would have “lost” your audience for a few seconds.

If you “lose” your audience once too often, your speech would be deemed ineffective. On the flip side, when speaking to people of a specific industry, the usage of technical jargon is important to help them understand your subject matter better. It also helps to impress them with your knowledge on the subject.

Long sentences. Long sentences is another killer. As you keep joining your sentences with conjunctions such as “and”, “or”, “so”, “however”, “but”, etc, the sentence loses its power. By the time your audience grasp the last part of your sentence, they would have forgotten the first part. Therefore, KISS (keep it short & simple). In the case of a book, you can afford to have some long sentences because your readers can always re-read your sentences a few times if they don’t understand it. However, in a speech, they only have one chance to understand your sentence. You are not going to repeat your sentences over & over again, are you?

Be specific. “Next Monday” is better than “soon”. “Flowing white beard” is better than “old man.” Specific words have the power to paint a vivid image in the minds of your audience. The clearer the image, the longer your audience will remember your speech. The longer your audience remember it, the more impactful it will be to them.

Use Conversational Language

A dead giveaway of a speaker who lacks confidence is someone who depends heavily on their prepared text. Strive to speak directly to your audience. Trying to memorize your speech word for word based on your prepared text will make your speech artificial & stilted. Conversational language on the contrary is natural and flowing. By instilling the feeling of a heart-to-heart chat, the conversational style will help to enhance audience rapport.

Conversational language is clearly different from written language. It allows for a sporadic ungrammatical and incorrect use of a word and sentence, as long as the meaning is not confusing and sounds correct. For example, it is perfectly okay to say the grammatically-correct “For whom is it?” if you want to. However, it would easy on the ears of the audience if you say “Who’s it for?”

Make Sense of Everything

A pertinent point to remember about a speech is that written language does not always make the same sense to a listener as spoken language. When we read written text we go at our preferred speed. We can pause, “reverse” or “fast forward” as we like. However, when we are listening, we are dependent on the speaker to interpret the meaning for us. Let’s look at the example below on how to express the same sentence in two different ways.

Written version: “As the rays hit his raised eyebrows, he rose from his seat with a rose in his hand.” In this case, though there are a few homonyms (rays, raised; rose, rose) in the sentence, the reader will be able to figure things out themselves based on the spelling of the words.

Spoken version: “Rays of sunlight hit his eyes. He raised his eyebrows in surprise to see a red rose on his table. He clutched the red flower and rose from his seat.” In this case, the listeners are totally dependent on the pronunciation & enunciation of the public speaker. Therefore, it’s best that the sentence be re-written for the ears to avoid confusion.

Signpost Where You Are Heading

The concept of signposting comes from the yesteryears when we used to rely on signposts to drive from one place to another. Signposting, like the signs on a road, is a technique of letting your listeners know in advance what is coming next in your speech. It is used to inform the audience in advance what you want them to understand from it.

You can signpost your presentation before you start by saying “Today we are going to discuss three things. Firstly… Secondly… and finally…” You can also signpost your speech by giving it a non-confusing title. For example “Confront Your Fears” would make a better speech title as compared to “Take the Bull by Its Horns.” Another method of signposting is to give an example to reinforce a point. For example, saying “Let me share a story with you emphasize what I mean…” is a form of signposting as it reinforces a point using a story. At the end of your speech, summarizing your points also serves as a final signpost to help your audience remember and understand your speech better.

Your audience will appreciate signposting because it helps them follow your presentation easily without getting lost.

Use Humor To Create Rapport

Jokes can be used to amuse an audience while simultaneously slipping in the message you want to impart. The common ground is the shared laughter. If the joke works it gets you together; on the other hand, if the joke fails, it drives a wedge between you. As such, your humorous speech need to be befitting the occasion, tastefully presented and, of course, hilarious. Steer clear of jokes related to sex, politics, religion, gender & ethnicity.

Use Pauses Appropriately

Just like there are speed breakers on the road to slow a driver down, pauses serve as a speed breaker for public speakers. Some of the best moments in a presentation are, interestingly, those instances when you pause. Pausing slightly longer than you need to is a technique used to show you’re in total control of the audience.

Knowing when to pause is important. Pause prior to an important point to build suspense and catch the attention of the audience. For example, “Today’s price for this product is…”. Pauses are also useful before the punchline of a joke to build tension. Immediately after you have delivered the punchline, pause again to wait for the audience to settle after laughing.

Pause after an important point to let them to absorb, comprehend or reflect on your message.

Master these useful skills and you’ll take your presentation expertise to unimaginable heights!

I wish you well.

Delivering a Vivid Presentation

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.

Better Public Speaking

How would you know if you are better at public speaking today as compared to last year? Can you recall the last memorable talk or presentation you attended? Now, did it come to you easily, or did you have to crack your brains to remember one? Sadly, too many presentations are easily forgotten. And that’s a big problem because the primary reason the speaker gave the talk was to impart something important to you.

If you were the presenter you might want to consider the three basic things that you can do to ensure that your future speeches are understood and remembered time and time again.

You’ve probably stumbled upon these principles before. As such, they may appear to be somewhat obvious and deceptively simple. Nevertheless, it works all the time. These three basic principles are:-

Be prepared

Have a theme for your speech

Keep your message clear and concise

Be Prepared

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I suppose that you’ve heard this statement a million times. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you understand the importance of preparation. A speaker who is well prepared is a speaker who respects his audience. It is like dressing well for your job interview or first date. The moment the audience detect that you are ill prepared, they will lose respect for you. Are you willing to risk losing the respect of your audience? You decide.

Preparation is probably the most important factor in determining your communication successes. When possible, fix meeting times and speaking engagements well in advance. This will buy yourself the time you need to rehearse your speech. As a rule of the thumb, a one minute speech deserves a thirty minute rehearsal. However, if you are well versed with the subject especially if you are a lecturer who delivers the same talk every other day, you may reduce your rehearsal time according to your discretion.

Then again, not all presentations can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a thorough understanding of the nature of the issue, which will enable you to speak with authority.

Have a theme for your speech

I.P.E.E
The acronym above stands for Inform, Persuade, Explain or Entertain. A combination of one or two of the above needs to be your theme.

While preparing your talk or presentation, it’s crucial that you understand what you want to say, who your audience is and why would they be interested to listen. To do this, ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?

Who are you addressing? What are their values, interests and beliefs? What are the common desires with the others in the room? For example, if you are addressing a group of diabetics during a health talk, obviously these people would want to know how to enjoy a better quality of life. They will most likely be looking for hope, solutions and encouragement to deal with their ailment.

Therefore, coming back to I.P.E.E, what message do you wish to convey? My gut feeling would tell me to use a combination of Inform, Persuade and Explain in this situation. I would prefer to leave the “Entertain” aspect out of this type of speech because it could backfire if I’m not careful with my choice of words.

Keep your message clear and concise

When it comes to crafting your message, less is more. However, this is easier said than done. In order to pull this stunt off, you will need to have a superb command of your spoken language. Your vocabulary and grammar has to be excellent. Only then, you will be able to shorten your sentences without losing its meaning.

Let’s come back to the diabetic talk again. Let’s assume that you are a doctor who is delivering this speech. Try to avoid too much information or excessive medical jargon. This will only serve to overload and bore your listeners. Once they are overloaded, they will mentally shut down. When you look into their eyes, you’ll get the impression that “the lights are switched on but nobody’s at home”. Remember, they are not expecting to become experts on the subject. They want solutions, hope and encouragement. Therefore simplicity is best.

If you’re using slides, limit the content of each one to a few main points, a single statement or a picture. Look at the picture on this page with the caption I.P.E.E. As you can see, I have used a picture to help you remember this acronym 🙂 If you really need to provide them with a lot of technical data, this data can be provided to the audience in electronic form for them to download and read prior to or after your presentation.

In conclusion while implementing the three basic principles you learnt today, ask yourself what your ‘success criteria’ is. How would you know if and when you have effectively communicated what you had in mind? If you presented in a formal workshop, distributing a feedback form to all participants would be useful. This questionnaire will serve as a good indicator of your strengths and areas of improvement.

Therefore remember the three basic principles which are:-

Be prepared

Have a theme for your speech

Keep your message clear and concise

All the best to you

Moving from Good to Great in Your Public Speeches

Kaizen is a Japanese practice of continuous improvement. Today, Kaizen is accepted worldwide as an important mainstay of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy. As a public speaker, you too need to “Kaizen” your delivery skills in order to remain relevant to your audience. Here are some tips on how to take your speech from good to great so that you continue to remain relevant.

Research Your Listeners

I am amazed at how some speakers will arrive for a speaking engagement without knowing anything about the audience they are about to address. I am fastidious about researching the demographics and desires of the audience before speaking to them.

Some complacent speakers feel that their message is so important that everyone would want to hear it. Therefore, they do not take the initiative to understand the desires of the audience. They couldn’t be more wrong. Your fundamental message may be about the same thing, but knowing your addressees will enable you to customise the information to suit the crowd. As such, your audience will feel that your talk was specially prepared just for them. Dale Carnegie called this “baiting the hook to suit the fish.” They will relate much better to your message and appreciate your initiative for creating something unique for them.

Practice

Rehearsals cannot be delegated, unfortunately. If you want to look polished while speaking you need to practice. For a five minute speech, I will normally rehearse for one hour. Don’t fall into the trap thinking that your PowerPoint / Prezi slides can do the talking for you. You are the master and your slides are your slaves. If you think that you can reverse this equation, you are courting trouble, my friend 🙂

There are specific methods used to rehearse that don’t take much time. One of these methods is called bits. You rehearse a short bit of material over and over again. You don’t rehearse it verbatim, but just speak your way through it. I normally do it in my car while driving. This way your mind won’t black out when you are distracted on stage.

Take Care of the Troublemakers

In some cases, I have noticed that the heckler is normally the senior executive of the organization who is craving for a sense of importance in front of his / her subordinates. On other occasions it could be someone who knows the subject better than you and therefore has got little or no respect for you.

Well, you’ve got to handle the situation whether you like it or not. This will be the ultimate test of your communication skills and people handling expertise.

Use Visual Aids

A picture paints a thousand words so does a visual aid. Visual people will find it easy to anchor a thought in their minds when it is linked to a visual object. Just like “seeing is believing” to them, “seeing is understanding.” Such people memorize and learn by seeing pictures. They love it when you use words that create vivid imagery like “see the dark clouds, look across the beach, envision celebrating your wedding anniversary, imagine driving a Volvo, etc.” in your speech as these phrases paint pictures in their minds.

You could employ a combination of large, small, weird or colorful props. PowerPoint or Prezi will also come in handy here. Always ensure that your prop serves to make your point clearer or more understandable.

Conclusion

One of the most interesting features of Kaizen is that huge results come from numerous little changes accumulated over a period of time. Today, you have embarked on Kaizen by implementing these four suggestions which are Research Your Listeners, Practice, Take Care of the Troublemakers and Use Visual Aids. In just a matter of time, you will see massive improvements in your presentations; trust yourself.

I wish you well.

Utilizing Body Language in a Speech

Your body language plays an important part in making your speech a perfect one. Normally, the tactics of verbal communication focus a lot on proper mapping of the body language. Body language has its instinctive impact on your speech as it involves non-verbal communication. Body language is all about conveying a message to another person without having an interchange of words. It is calculated that most of the messages that we interchange with each other are through body language.

From 1967 to 1971, Professor Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He discovered that when there is communication on a face-to-face basis, the audience would be able to guess the intention of the speaker accurately 55% of the time from his / her physiology. What’s important here is that the exact percentage is irrelevant. The crucial part is that most face-to-face communication is nonverbal.

Therefore, you must be aware of how to use your body language in your speech. For expressive people, body language is a very strong point in their speech and for the docile ones, it is not. So, if you do not have it as your strength, it would be a good idea to learn how to make it your strength. Flaunting your physiology appropriately will augment your speech deliverance.

Generally, body language is divided into 3 parts:

Gesticulation

Gesticulation is also referred to as “making proper gestures”. The different movements that we make using our hands are called gestures and the process is called gesticulation. Whenever a person delivers a speech, there comes certain points when he or she has to focus a bit to grab the attention of the audience. Proper use of gesture by making particular arm movements in the air can grab the attention of the audience.

In addition, the gestures are directly proportional to the size of the audience. If you are having a small meeting, you do not need to overly exaggerate your gestures. On the other hand, if you are a political leader or a person similar to that, you can have an audience of a million people in front of you. At that spot, you will need to focus on a powerful speech. Therefore, your gestures need to be exaggerated, deliberate, slow and accentuated. This is because you need to give adequate time for a million pairs of eyes to follow your movement.

Facial Expression

Facial expressions are indeed a very important part of your overall body language in your speech deliverance. Your audience will draw a conclusion or an idea of what you are talking about or what your mood is just by observing your facial expressions. So, if you want to deliver a successful speech, you need to focus on how to maintain the appropriate facial expressions during your presentation. Facial expressions of a debater or presenter greatly depends upon the lip and face movements. Many debaters and presenters are unaware of these facial expressions and just neglect them. Therefore it would be a good idea to rehearse your speech in front of a mirror or record your speech on video in order to observe your facial expressions.

Another aspect of your facial expressions is your eye contact with your audience. Eye contact is generally referred to as the point of confidence in your speech. If you are shy in making eye contact with your audience, you cannot deliver a good speech. You need to build inner self confidence to make eye contact with your audience. Your eye contact will help your audience connect with, like and trust you.

It will not be practical to establish eye contact with every individual in the room. So, a good way to deal with large crowds is to look at the people in the first few rows only. Beyond the third row, all you’ll see is a sea of heads with no eyes anyway. If the room had got a video camera which is projecting you on the big screen, lucky you. All you need to do is to look at the camera while speaking. Your eye contact with the camera will appear as eye contact with the audience on the big screen.

Body Posture

Last but not least is how you stand. It is also referred to as your body posture. Your body posture is very important as it will enable you to breathe well and portray a sense of confidence. If you have the inclination to sway or rock while speaking, spread your feet out almost in line with your shoulders, parallel to one another. Standing in this position will minimize any swaying or rocking motion and decrease disturbing heel movements. Feel free to move around and return to this posture, just don’t pace.

These are some of the non-verbal messages your audience may interpret when you do the following:

Leaning to one side – You are uncomfortable being on stage, you are trying to escape.

Pacing across the speaking area like a caged tiger – You are trying to break free, just like the caged tiger.

Rocking back and forth – Loss of power, you are nervous.

So there you go, my friends. Gesticulation, facial expressions and body posture will make or break your speech. While we all want to believe that it’s sufficient to be natural in front of a room, achieving this is easier said than done. It’s a strange and uncommon thing that produces strain, pressure, and ‘butterflies” in our stomachs. Being natural is insufficient. We need to be more dramatic, larger and more commanding. It takes additional determination and vigor. It also takes talent and rehearsal. With so much reliant on communication and communication contingent upon our physiology, it’s worth getting it right. Toil on your Gesticulation, facial expressions and body posture to make the most of every speaking occasion.

Good luck

Establishing an Emotional Connection with Your Audience

If you take care of the beginning, the end will take care of itself ~ Anonymous

When we communicate in public, we have approximately one minute to engage our audience’s attention, establish believability, familiarize them to our topic, and encourage them to listen.

If you waste those valuable opening seconds with an irrelevant joke, or an apology your listener’s minds are likely to wander, and you may not get them back. Losing them for 5 seconds is bad enough because it will take them another 10 seconds to catch up with you.

Here are some tips to engage your audience on an emotional level so that you will have their undivided attention throughout your presentation.

Use Emotional Language

Dull timeworn facts seldom excite people into action. Using words that evoke emotions will make a much bigger impression when you speak. There are numerous sentiments you can activate in the audience by using the appropriate choice of words. Delight, rage, sorrow, melancholy are just a few. Knowing your reason for addressing the group will help you to pick which emotions you want to tap. When you know your purpose, choosing the appropriate words to elicit the desired emotional reaction becomes easier. For example, if you desire to take your listeners back to a childhood experience you might say, “Do you recollect the time when your classmate did something bad at school and your teacher caned him in public?” The phrase “caned him in public” would induce an emotional response that many grown-ups can relate to. A “generation Y” audience may not relate to this phrase since corporal punishment is not widely practiced in schools these days. Therefore, it is advisable to pick words that your audience can relate to.

Show Your Vulnerable Side

Many speakers are hesitant to implement this idea because they like to remain detached and supposedly dignified. If you fall in this category, I don’t blame you. You may not know what is appropriate and what is not.

You don’t have to disclose your “skeletons in the closet” when on stage, but you could talk about how much you like dogs, or how you love to play with your children. . .anything that will give them an insight into the “human” side of you. By exposing the “softer” side of you, your audience will develop a stronger bond with you. Once the bond is established, it would be easier for you to influence or inspire your audience effectively.

This concept is also known as establishing common ground with the audience.

Use Jokes

Humour is a potent and effective instrument that gives the audience’s mind an opportunity to breath in the face of heavy material. It also makes you more affable and enjoyable to listen to. When your audience like you, your emotional connection with them becomes stronger. A humorous speech is also more likely to make your information more unforgettable.

There are four basic methods to add humour that don’t necessitate any skill at all. Just remember this acronym; P U U I.
P = puns
U = unexpected twists
U = understatements
I – irony

Just Google for “jokes with puns” or “jokes with irony” and you will get loads of samples with detailed explanation on what a pun or understatement joke is.

Similar to props, ensure that your humour relates to the point you are trying to make.

Be A Problem Solver

An effective way to make the audience love you is to convey solutions to their difficulties. If you have researched your audience well, you should know what their problems are. It’s your business to suggest solutions for them to try. In modern day rational this is what motivational discourse is all about. No longer is it sufficient to get your listeners all fired up where they are vigorously bouncing off the walls without a hint as to what they will do with this new found enthusiasm and stimulus. Modern skilled motivational speakers bring solutions and a strategy of action to attain them.

Are The Logistics Okay?

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the Kings horses & all the Kings men,
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Take cue from this nursery rhyme.

The best groundwork, rehearsal, and audience study could be ruined if you overlook any details surrounding the logistical arrangements. You want to know what is going to transpire before you speak, and what will occur after you speak: What is the seating arrangement? What kind of microphone will you be using? How big is the screen for the PowerPoint presentation? Will the people be consuming alcohol? Is the lighting sufficient?

These and many other questions will significantly enhance or ruin your presentation.

Remember, the same speech conveyed with significantly dissimilar logistics could be received in an entirely different way. You could even go from a superb evaluation to a “Humpty Dumpty” just because of the way your audience were seated. You need to know the differences and how they will affect your presentation.

Conclusion

Many believe that good public speakers are born, not made. I wish that was true of me. Well, some people are more tranquil and at ease speaking in front of others, and I’m happy for them. Perhaps they have learnt how to establish an emotional connection with themselves first before attempting to do the same with their audience? Now that’s something to ponder upon…

I wish you well in your next presentation

Effective Public Speaking: 5 Powerful Ways To Use Volume

Knowing how to use volume skillfully can make a huge contribution to effective public speaking.

Speakers who use just one level of volume, usually at low level, can almost guarantee having an audience who are either sleeping or taking mental excursions.

Use the five key guidelines below and really harness the power of volume as you develop an effective public speaking style:

  1. Sufficient Volume

Many speakers could increase their volume considerably. The reason they do not is often because they believe their volume level is greater than it really is. The way our voice sounds in our own heads is different to the way it sounds from the audience perspective.

So learn to speak louder than you feel is really necessary. Remember, when making a presentation you are not having a quiet chat with a friend in the corner of a favorite café. You are before an audience and you need to project your voice.

If you are concerned you may be overdoing it, then simply use the audience as your guide as to whether you are using sufficient volume.

Look closely at those sitting at the back and watch their facial expressions and reactions. Are they evidently straining to hear? Increase the volume.

There is a careful balance here. You do not want to speak so loud you make it uncomfortable for those at front but at the same time you do need to speak loud enough for all to hear comfortably.

This can even apply when there is microphone equipment as many times the equipment is not adjusted to the best level and you the speaker will have to compensate.

  1. Mouth And Clarity

Open the mouth wide enough for your words to come out clearly. Speaking rapidly, clipping the ends of words, slurring words together, are to be avoided at all costs! If you face any of these problems, work hard to overcome them.

Make a recording of your speech and play it back to get a good idea as to how your voice is coming over.

Then practice, practice, practice. Speak slowly and clearly, paying particular attention to sounding word endings.

At first it will sound unnatural and exaggerated. With practice the unnaturalness will disappear and your speech will be much more distinct and clearly understood.

  1. Vary Your Volume

Increase or decrease your volume according to the subject matter of your material or your purpose in that section of the presentation.

If you want the audience to take action then you need to use stronger volume. If you are relating anecdotes or material requiring sympathy or understanding, use a softer tone.

Learning to vary your volume level throughout your presentation according to the subject matter will greatly increase audience interest and attention.

  1. Adjusting Volume

Be ready to adjust your volume or even stop speaking when necessary.

If there is a temporary noise, perhaps a noisy passing vehicle, be sensitive to the circumstances and increase your volume to cover the distraction. If the noise is longer than a few seconds, perhaps an airplane passing overhead, pause until the interruption has passed, then resume what you were saying.

This tells the audience that what you are saying is important, not a word is to be missed.

  1. When To Increase Volume

Use increased volume for the first sentence in your introduction. This is a key element in effective public speaking. The opening sentence has to grab the attention of the audience, get them engaged. Starting off with your normal speaking voice will fail to do that.

A powerfully stated first sentence establishes your credibility so the audience is far more likely to take you seriously.

Example: Compare the feeling and impression you get with hand shakes. How is your impression affected by a limp handshake and by a firm handshake? Likewise, a strong powerful voice conveys you are confident and in control.

Don’t make the audience feel sorry for you by starting in a soft tone that borders on an apology for being there.

Learning how to use volume for effect is a very powerful speaking tool. Delivering your presentation with sufficient volume, varying it according to the material and circumstances, will do much to leave a good impression with the audience and enhance your reputation in effective public speaking.

Public Speaking:The 5 Step Starting Routine

Confident public speaking come with time and experience obviously. Few people are natural born public speakers.

However, there is a way to short-cut the learning curve and appear much more confident that you may feel inside by mastering the starting routine.

Just arriving at the speaker’s stand or in front of an audience and immediately breaking into your speech by blurting out the first few sentences catches everyone almost unawares and also reveals your nervousness.

Likewise shuffling your notes as you begin speaking conveys a negative impression.

Instead, follow this simple 5 step routine before you begin any presentation and you immediately appear confident at public speaking engagements and presentations:

  1. Walk slowly to the speaker’s stand or in a controlled, measured way stand up in front of the group or audience and place your notes on the lectern
  2. Look at the audience and around the room for just one or two seconds while you discreetly take in a deep breath
  3. Pause
  4. Smile or at least make sure you have a relaxed facial expression
  5. Begin your first sentence with strong volume and a commanding tone

Discipline yourself to follow this procedure and feel your self-confidence soar!

Note: While your presentation should be extemporaneous, learning the first few words or the first two or three sentences off by heart can do much to make sure the launch is positive and confident.

Here are some other suggestions which are invaluable in developing a confident public speaking style:

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm can make up for a number of other failings on the part of a speaker.

Even if a speaker is not highly polished in his/her presentation skills, an audience won’t give it undue attention if the speaker is enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm shows how you feel about the subject. If you have a passion for it, if you just love speaking about it, this will rub off on the audience.

Be Natural

Use your natural, everyday voice. A false, overly precise manner of speaking which is not normal for you will be easily detected by the audience as phony. There should be no need to disguise yourself.

Be yourself, use a natural, conversational style and the audience will concentrate on what you are saying, not on the way you are saying it.

Reduce Anxiety

Reduce anxiety by being in the meeting room or hall early as the audience starts to come in. Greet as many as you can and if time permits have a few words with one or two. Just a brief greeting, introducing yourself, asking their name, where they are from, etc. will really break the ice.

When you get on the platform and see the persons you spoke to in the audience you will feel like you are talking to friends rather than strangers.

When The Mind Goes Blank

If you have a sudden lapse of memory and your mind goes blank you might be able to pick up the threads again by simply repeating the last words of your last sentence. It just gives you those precious seconds needed to get back on track.

In conclusion, be realistic with feelings of nervousness. Some persons may be able to overcome audience fear but never be able to completely eradicate nervousness before beginning to speak.

With experience and practice this initial nervousness disappears after a few seconds once you have launched into the presentation using the five step routine outlined above. Mastering this sequence alone will move you well along on the road to confident public speaking.

5 Presentation Skills To Keep Your Audience Riveted!

The human mind has a tendency to wander when it is not focused or totally absorbed in activity or thinking. A challenge facing every public speaker therefore is to make a presentation that grips the attention of the audience.

Use these 5 presentation skills to prevent the audience from taking mental excursions:

  1. Question Hooks

Questions really get the audience hooked.

The brain has a natural tendency to want to answer questions. When you are in the middle of doing something and someone asks a question what happens? Your brain immediately stops what it is thinking about and gives attention to the question, even if it is only momentary.

So, in a presentation, use rhetorical questions liberally. Even though you supply the answer, the very fact you asked a question will keep your audience with you.

In your preparation, think out a number of rhetorical questions and sprinkle them throughout your outline or notes.

Example: If your presentation is about goal setting, before getting to the first main point you might say: “What’s the very first step in any goal setting exercise?” Then state step one. The very fact you have asked a question will hook the audience and not only get them thinking but motivate them to concentrate on what you are going to say next.

Why? Because their brains are screaming for an answer. After all, you just asked a question!

  1. Emotion Engages The Heart

Using emotion in your delivery will win the hearts of your listeners. Rather than appearing cold and unapproachable, a warm style of expression will bring you close to your audience so they will open their hearts to you.

A relaxed facial expression, a smile, a general demeanor that says “You’re a great audience, I like you” will make you personable and well liked. An audience will learn from a speaker they feel drawn to.

  1. Facial Expressions

Use facial expressions – movements of the eyes, mouth, brow, etc. Especially when repeating someone else’s words, or when telling a story or anecdote, your face should reflect the emotions and feelings of the speaker you are quoting or of the characters you are describing.

  1. Vary The Pace

Learn to vary the rate at which you speak during your presentation.

There will be sections where you speak more rapidly and sections where you slow down and speak more deliberately.

This is the mark of an experienced speaker – the ability to match speaking pace with the thought content and emotional tone of the material being presented. To develop this public speaking skill, start off by looking through your material in the preparation stage and marking in your notes where you might speed up or slow down.

  1. Don’t Be Boring

As part of your preparation, ask yourself, ‘What does my audience already know about this subject?’ presentation skills – boringThen research your subject looking for material outside the general knowledge of your audience.

Just covering things they already know will lead to boredom and lack of interest. Present new information or fresh angles on a familiar subject and keep them enthralled!

Keeping your audience engaged can be a challenge, especially in a presentation longer than 30 minutes. Use the 5 presentation skills above and greatly minimize the risk of your audience being present in body but absent in mind!

6 Presentation Skills For Powerful Delivery

Make sure you know the following 6 presentation skills to ensure your delivery is powerful, easy to listen to, and convincing:

Principle Ideas

For your presentation to have any effect, you, the speaker, need to identify in your preparation the principle ideas in your material. If you don’t know what the principle ideas are how can the audience be expected to identify them.

Usually, principal ideas come down to 2 or 3 main points. Once these are identified in the preparation stage, the speaker can concentrate on supporting points or additional material to add force to these key ideas thus making them stand out.

Accurate Reading

When reading a quotation with the audience following along in their own printed copy, pay special attention to accurate reading. Stumbling, mispronouncing words, reading what’s not there, all take away from your authority. So be a good reader!

If accurate reading is a problem, practice!

If you are going to quote, make sure you have practiced the reading beforehand so you can read with feeling, proper sense, and poise.

Be Coherent

This public speaking tip will do much to make your presentation easy to listen to. For it to flow and be coherent, employ a wide variety of connecting expressions. These words and phrases provide a bridge and a smooth transition, helping the audience glide easily from one point to the next.

Here is a list of transitional expressions you may wish to use:

  • likewise
  • for these reasons
  • therefore
  • on the other hand
  • similarly
  • so then
  • on the contrary
  • in addition
  • furthermore
  • hence
  • also

Make liberal use of connecting words

Express It Your Way

Be careful when expressing thoughts as they appear in print from a particular source, unless of course you make it clear you are making a direct quotation. Just repeating it the way it is written can make you sound stiff and formal.

Far better to absorb the idea or thought and express it in your own words and style so it comes across in a conversational way.

Regressions

Watch out for the regressions habit. This is when a speaker starts to say something, then stops in the middle of a sentence, then starts a new thought or sentence while leaving the previous expression unfinished.

Doing this repeatedly can drive an audience to the point of distraction.

The Sound Check

Personally do a sound check before your presentation. Make sure you are in the room early, talk with the sound operators and physically check the microphone.

This will give you an idea of how your voice sounds with amplification in that specific environment and how you need to use the microphone to be heard clearly.

Integrate the 6 presentation skills listed above into your presentation preparation and delivery strategy and feel a great boost in your self-confidence as a public speaker.

Public Speaking: 5 Key Image Factors

Confident public speaking puts the audience at ease and creates a good environment for them to absorb the information you present. The speaker who lacks confidence can make an audience feel sorry for them so the audience ends up concentrating on the speaker rather than the message.

In view of this, a professional image is a very important ingredient in confident public speaking. Use the five points below to ensure your image enhances rather than detracts from your presentation:

Personal Appearance

Spend some time on your personal appearance before making a presentation.

  • Have you dressed appropriately for the audience you are addressing?
  • Is your clothing clean?
  • Is your hair properly groomed?
  • Are your hands and fingernails clean and well kept?

Paying attention to these areas will convey a professional image, give you credibility, and make you feel confident in public speaking.

Neat Equipment

In addition to paying attention to your personal appearance, also give thought to your equipment.

Arriving in front of the audience with notes on folded up pieces of paper looks amateur.

Make sure your notes are neatly kept in a binder or plastic folder and well arranged so you don’t spend time fumbling for the page you want.

Visual Contact

Ensure you have good visual contact with the audience, take a few seconds to make sure your notes are positioned correctly on the speaker’s stand.

You don’t want them at such a distance that you have to drop your head to look down.

If possible, keep them at an angle that allows you to just glance at them without moving your head so you can keep good eye contact with the audience.

Stand Up Straight

Stand erect so the speech organs in your body can function properly. Slouching leads to poor enunciation and muffling sounds with the audience straining to catch what is said.

Handle Interruptions Confidently

What if members of the audience keep interrupting you, or make loud comments on what you are saying? Anyone who is not confident in public speaking can be thrown by these situations or at least look awkward and ill-prepared.

On the other hand, here is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and keep control of yourself, your audience and the situation. Here are two suggestions:

State in a very kind, non-aggressive tone the following:

You appreciate members of the audience may have other viewpoints or concerns. There will be an opportunity at the end of the discussion to hear them, either through a question and answer session after the main presentation, or by being on hand to speak personally to anyone with a query.

Alternatively, you may remind the audience there is a time constraint, and as you have some very important information to convey it will be necessary to take comments and questions later, after the main presentation is finished.

Almost every public speaker feels nervous at some time. Some never conquer their nervousness completely. Nevertheless, you do not need to betray your nervous feelings to your audience.

By paying careful attention to your image using the five points above, you will make a positive impact on your audience and within yourself feel confident at public speaking engagements.

Mastering Public Speaking : 6 Advice Notes For Powerful Presentations

When mastering public speaking, you need to pay special attention to the first few seconds of your presentation:

Get Attention – smile

For maximum effect and to ensure you have the attention of your audience, when you stand up to speak,

1) take just one or two seconds to look around your audience,

2) make sure your facial expression is relaxed – SMILE!

Then your first words will fall on an audience anticipating something rather than on an audience that gradually stops what it’s doing as it becomes aware of the fact you have started speaking.

Here are some introduction ideas which will help in mastering public speaking skills:

Six Introductions

  • Relate a human interest story
  • Use an illustration or anecdote
  • Use a visual aid
  • Ask a question
  • Use a striking quotation
  • Start with shocking facts (be sure they are credible and from a trusted authority)

Use Similes And Metaphors

Enrich your presentation by using similes and metaphors. By just comparing two things, the subject under discussion with something that has one or more factors in common, will help you audience grasp the meaning.

Metaphors go even further by speaking as though one thing actually was another. e.g. “All the world’s a stage.”

Illustrations

When thinking of illustrations or examples to include in your material, try and draw from subjects that are familiar to your audience.

If you are making a presentation before work colleagues for example, try and think of an illustration from your workplace or to do with the industry you are associated with.

Likewise, before larger audiences, illustrations relating to the town or city, or history of the area in which you are speaking will find fascinated listeners.

They will immediately feel a rapport with you as you obviously have taken a personal interest in them and their background.

The last two suggestions relate to voice and microphone use. Mastering public speaking means you speak in a way that captures interest. Additionally, you also need to make sure your voice is heard at all times:

Tone And Pitch

Vary the tone and pitch of your voice and you will be interesting to listen to.

A musical instrument playing one note soon becomes an irritation. A speaker with a monotone voice can have the same effect. So learn to:

  • Express excitement or enthusiasm with a higher pitch.
  • Raise the pitch of your voice at the end of a question.
  • When you want to appeal to the sympathy and understanding of your audience use a lower, softer tone.
  • The human voice has an amazing range. Learn to explore the highs and lows of your own voice in daily conversation and then employ this range when you speak before an audience.

Microphone Use – handbreadth

If you move your head remember to stop speaking until your mouth is directly in front of the microphone again. And of course, avoid sneezing or coughing into the microphone. Remember to turn your head.

Additionally, when using a microphone, make sure it is positioned about 4 to 6 inches from your mouth to avoid voice distortion.

Mastering public speaking takes time, and much practice. Keeping the above six advice notes in mind will do much to aid your progress.