Better Public Speaking

Rss

  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : October2014

Establishing an Emotional Connection with Your Audience

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. As such, establishing an emotional connection with your audience is critical. Here’s what a wise man one said:

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

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.

  • Just Add Story: Creating an Emotional Connection at Every Audience Touch Point
    YouTube Video
    Just Add Story: Creating an Emotional Connection at Every Audience Touch Point

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 🙂

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. As a champion speaker in many speech contests, I am fastidious about researching the demographics and desires of the audience before speaking to them. This habit of mine has helped me win numerous public speaking championships.

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.

  • The Valedictorian Speech that will change your life
    YouTube Video
    The Valedictorian Speech that will change your life
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.

In order to pre-empt the heckler, I get people in the group to detect possible mischief-makers BEFORE I get to the event. I then phone these potential troublemakers and interview them to give them the sense of importance they are craving. During my speech, I also mention their names. This practically eradicates the chance that they will interrupt my speech because I am publicly praising their opinions.

It’s a good idea to mention a wide variety of names and not just the troublemakers in order to create a balance.

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 🙂

Using Appropriate Words in a Speech

The selection of appropriate words in a speech 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.

  • Get Fluent With 1 Trick - Become A Confident English Speaker With This Simple Practice Trick
    YouTube Video
    Get Fluent With 1 Trick - Become A Confident English Speaker With This Simple Practice Trick

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.