Better Public Speaking

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Archives for : September2014

The History and Importance of Public Speaking

Since the beginning of time, spoken words have been of paramount importance in the arena of communication. Let’s look at the history and importance of public speaking today.

If one traces the evolution of mankind from its initial stage one will find that the nomadic family of savages relied wholly upon what its members said to one another. As mankind evolved, groups of families formed clans or tribes. In these tribes, the folks still heard the instructions of their leaders.

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    4 essential body language tips from a world champion public speaker
Story-tellers, in all aboriginal societies were valuable spreaders of knowledge, entertainment, and religion. Story-telling was entirely oral those days. In well-structured communities such as the city republic of Greece, all matters were discoursed in open gatherings in front of the masses.

Many great periods of the world’s evolution has shown the paramount importance of speech upon human action, individual and communal. In the Roman Forum speeches were made that impacted the entire ancient world. Renaissance Italy, imperial Spain, unwieldy Russia, freedom loving England, revolutionary France, all experienced epochs when powerful men and women stirred the people into passionate action with their vociferous speeches.

The history of the United States was greatly influenced by great speakers who delivered inspirational speeches. The colonists were directed to resolute action by convincing speeches. The Colonial Congresses and Constitutional Convention were controlled by influential orators. The history of the slavery problem is largely the epic of famous discourses and debates. Most successful Americans rose to high levels of leadership due to their ability to influence their people. Presidents have been nominated and sacked because of their public speaking skills (or the lack of it).

During World War I & II, the billions of the world were as much anxious with what some of their leaders were saying as with what their other leaders were doing.

There is no facet of modern life in which the spoken word is not supreme in importance. Even written agreements are normally preceded by spoken words (such as debate, discussions and deliberation) first.

Representatives of the countries of the world deliberating upon a peace accord can easily be swayed by speech. In state assemblies, town councils, courts of law, religious bodies, theatres, hotels, societies, boards of management, shareholders’ meetings, business negotiations, classrooms, dinner gatherings, social events, or any other friendly call where two people meet there is communication by means of speech.

Therefore, it is crucial to learn public speaking and effective communication skills in order to influence people, change the world and uplift the spirit of the people.

Reach Your Audience As a Public Speaker – Four Different Ways

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.

  • Ep 8. Body Language - Advanced Presentation Techniques - Public Speaking
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    Ep 8. Body Language - Advanced Presentation Techniques - Public Speaking

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.

Kinesthetic

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:

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    A simple way to break a bad habit | Judson Brewer
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! Happy New Year & a very Happy New You!

Bringing Speech 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.

  • The Story That Moved This Entire Middle School to Tears
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    The Story That Moved This Entire Middle School to Tears
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.