How to Speak Well and Confidently
Are you very shy when it comes to new surroundings, such as starting a new class or moving to a new area? Sometimes, it is necessary to overcome your shyness and speak confidently. By doing this, it can help you not only to share your ideas properly to others, but also to learn communicating with others. Here are a few steps to consider when speaking with confidence.
Learn how to have conversations with people. Your ideas or opinions may not always be accepted by others, but this is nothing unusual. Open your mouth, express your beliefs! This will improve your courage.
Don’t be afraid and speak loudly. If you speak in a low voice, not only will others not be able to hear what you say, but you will also portray a submissive demeanor, which suggests the opposite of a confident one.
Make eye contact when you speak. For one thing, it is polite for others. Also, eye contact will help others to listen to your thinking carefully.
Praise yourself everyday! This will promote your own confidence, which is important when you speak. With more confidence, people will take your thinking more seriously.
- Don’t be nervous when you make mistakes. Human error is far from being a new concept — nobody is perfect! It is normal for everyone to make mistakes. Just calm down and keep speaking bravely.
- Try and try again! This may be difficult for a shy person at first, but you need to force yourself to speak, and not seclude your thoughts. If you have some ideas, then try to speak out! Don’t just keep them in your head.
- If you have self confidence issues, try to think that you are the only one who has sound knowledge about the topic. Then go ahead and impart your knowledge to the audience in an effective way.
- Remember that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Don’t portray an exaggerated amount of confidence, or you will come off as arrogant, believing that your ideas are better than the ideas of everyone else.
10 Tips to Improve Your Speaking voice
One of the most important components of public speaking is the sound of your voice. It influences the impact of your message, and might even make or break the success of your speech. Fortunately, for many people, good voice quality can be learned.
Breathe from your diaphragm – Practice long and controlled exhales. When you speak, use breath to punctuate your point. For example, take a breath at the end of each phrase whether you need to or not. Use that opportunity to pause and let the listeners absorb what you say.
Use pitch – Lower pitches generally are more soothing to hear. However, modulating your pitch for emphasis will keep your listeners engaged. Develop your pitch by practicing humming.
Moderate your volume – Find out if you speak too loudly or too softly. When you begin speaking, ask your audience how your volume is (each situation is different). Try to stay at the appropriate volume throughout your speech.
Moderate your pace – This one is also closely related to breath. If you speak too quickly, people can’t keep up. If you speak too slowly, people will lose interest. Record your speech to determine if you need to change your pace. Get feedback from others.
Articulate – Try exaggerating your lip movement to reduce mumbling. Practice articulating tongue twisters and extending and exaggerating vowel sounds. Become an expert at articulating tongue twisters as quickly and crisply as possible. Focus on the ones you find difficult.
Practice your speech in advance and determine where you want to pause for a breath. For more emphasis, pause for more than one breath. Mark your breathing points in your notes.
Loosen up before you begin. Look side to side. Roll your head in half-circles and roll your shoulders back. Shift your rib cage from side to side. Yawn. Stretch. Touch your toes while completely relaxing your upper body, then slowly stand up, one vertebra at a time, raising your head last. Repeat as needed.
Posture – Stand up straight and tall to allow full lung capacity and airflow.
Record your voice repeatedly using different ways of speaking. Determine which one is most pleasing.
Practice breath control – Take a deep breath, and while you exhale, count to 10 (or recite the months or days of the week). Try gradually increasing your volume as you count, using your abdominal muscles—not your throat—for volume. Don’t let your larynx tense up.
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Top 7 Tips to Be Great Public Speaker
Public speaking is one of the best ways to promote your business, your career or your organization. There is an endless number of groups looking for informative and entertaining speakers. You can be one of them! And when you wow an audience, they want more. It's a perfect way to build awareness, gain credibility and generate new leads for your business.
This article gives you seven top tips straight from a professional who's been there. They are road-tested and proven tools to help you become a great public speaker.
It's ALL about your audience.
You are there for them. (They are not there for your gain.) Whatever you do, your intent and focus needs to be 100% on your audience. Help them, entertain them, inform them, inspire them.
Always play to win.
Have something worthwhile to say (that they will want to hear) and be able to say it well. Half-way efforts don't count. Public speaking is a pass or fail deal. Always be prepared to hit the ball out of the park. No exceptions.
Entertain and inform.
There are plenty of boring speakers. Don't be one of them. Use humor and stories and fun to make your presentations sparkle. And give them enough solid information to make it worth their time. Enable them to leave with something they can use to improve their lives.
Use stories. (Your stories.)
Stories are not just for kids. Everyone loves a story. Just make sure it's fun and relevant. And , for the most part, use your own stories. It’s okay to sue some that you hear about from others. But if you use too many, you’ll risk sounding like every other speaker who sues those stories. Use your own and you’ll always be unique.
Use personal examples to illustrate your points.
Dig into your life for real examples to help you demonstrate concepts or illustrate points. People learn in different ways and real life examples are a great way to help people understand and remember your points.
Get them involved.
Forget the lectures we all had in high school or college. People don't want to be talked at. Ask questions and expect answers. Then use those answers to further a point if applicable. Make it a two-way exchange of information and you'll connect with more people.
Show them the dream.
We all have dreams. We all aspire to something greater than what or where we are. One of the reasons people enjoy great public speakers is they show them the dream. And they help them believe it’s possible. Help your audience see their dream better. Help them believe they can take steps to accomplish their dream. Do that and you’ll win new friends for life.
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Top 7 Major Mistakes In Presentations
Whenever you are invited to stand up and deliver a presentation to your peers, clients or family - be proud! Be very proud. Whoever invited you, clearly thinks that you have something important to say.
Whenever we deliver in public, there must be some value added by speaking in person, otherwise, why not send them another boring email. So how are we going to grab the audience and take them on a journey?
The audience will listen because I'm a subject matter expert and what I have to say is interesting.
This is probably one of the most frequent mistakes made by speakers. We all like to think that we know our stuff, and many people do. But that alone will not engage your audience. Albert Mehrebian the US Educational Psychologist's research demonstrated that only 7% of your presentation's impact will be your words. Only 7%... This is worrying for subject matter experts. You could prepare for weeks, select the best words and key messages, you could have the best introduction, middle section and ending than any speaker on the bill, but your impact could be negligible. A few year's ago I became a school governor and as such, I was offered training sessions by my local Education Authority. The general standard of the 2 hour presentations was good. One evening, the guest speaker, a man who had worked in education all his life with a career that spanned being a headmaster, Ofsted inspector and a senior role in the Ministry of Education and Science; what this fellow didn't know about the history of secondary education was not worth knowing. However, he ended every sentence with a pronounced hmmmmmmmmm. Imagine that 6 times per minute, for two hours.... I nearly lost the will to live.
Tip - Listen and react to feedback from your colleagues. I'm certain that over the course of this fellow's long and distinguished career, many people must have mentioned his verbal mannerisms. If your company culture prohibits you from giving constructive feedback, seek professional help. Advice from consultants is more likely to be accepted because it is seen to be given objectively.
Speaking too fast.
Nervous and inexperienced speakers always remind me of the 100 metres sprint. They hear the gun, they're out of the blocks fast and they can't wait to get it over with. This is not unusual - it is the normal reaction to any potentially stressful situation. Let's close our eyes, do it, and get it over with. It's a bit like going to the dentist. However, some speakers do not even devote themselves to such minimal preparation.
Tip - for each minute of your speech, spend ten minutes of preparation on it. Watch yourself on video and ask yourself if you're delivering too fast.
Keep it short and simple and always leave them wanting more. The best way to maintain the attention of an audience is to start with a gripping opening, develop a maximum of three themes or key messages, and conclude with a message that pulls the introduction and key messages together with impact. An experienced speaker can make this look simple and seamless, but we're looking at perhaps 0.001% of the population. We all need help developing this skill. If you speak for over 10 minutes it's almost inevitable that the structure will suffer and you will lose your audience because you haven't signposted your structure well enough. Tell them what you'll tell them, tell them, and tell them what you've told them.
Tip - keep it short and simple and use your best material at the beginning and the end of your speech. Start and end with impact.
Maintaining eye-contact with your audience.
For the new or inexperienced speaker, eye-contact is one of the hardest aspects of speaking. Looking into the eyes of strangers does not come naturally to most of us. Indeed, in some cultures young people looking directly into the eyes of their elders is seen as a mark of disrespect. However, as a speaker, your audience is your primary concern. Remember that without audiences, we do not need speakers. Making eye-contact and engaging your audience is critical to success. It shows respect and demonstrates confidence. We listen and learn most from confident speakers. Life is a busy place, and when we invest time in a speaker, nobody likes to feel they have wasted their time.
Tip - if you find eye-contact difficult, try it out with friends and family in regular conversations. You will have a major impact on those with whom you are conversing. It' very difficult (almost rude) to disengage eye-contact with somebody when you're having a pleasant chat. Bear that in mind when you're making a speech and you'll do very well.
Speaking in a dull and monotonous voice. Throughout our professional careers, how many times have we endured the monotonous speaker?
In my case rather too often. Tonal variety is what adds massive impact to your speech or presentation. We need some highs and lows allied to seamless changes in pitch and pace. These effective techniques help to keep your audience engaged and participating in your presentation. Mehrebian's research demonstrated that 38% of what an audience remember is down to the effective use of tonal variety. A massive 55% relates to your body language. If you send a mixed message, don't be surprised if the message is dropped. A key factor in any speech or presentation is simply this:
Tip - It's not what you say. It's the way that you say it.
Scenario 1: You're trying to find the channel with the live football. Suddenly, your wife sitting in the opposite armchair says, ‘Do you love me?' You continue flicking through the channels, you don't look back at her and you eventually say the words, ‘Of course, I love you.'
Scenario 2: You're trying to find the channel with the live football. Suddenly, your wife sitting in the opposite armchair says, ‘Do you love me?'
You stop flicking through the channels with the remote and put it down. You walk across the room and take your wife by the hand, gently and sincerely you look her in the eyes, caress her cheek and say, ‘Of course, I love you.'
Notice that the same words are used, but which do you think conveys the stronger message?
Be confident - when you walk up to the lectern, walk up there like you own the joint.
The audience wants you to be excellent as they are investing their valuable time in listening to you. Your body language must exude confidence.
It may sound silly, but it's easy to practice walking confidently.
If you are delivering your presentation in the evening or perhaps as an after dinner speaker, stay off the wine until you've delivered your presentation.
If you want to destroy your professional reputation, slur your words in front of an audience. Don't worry to much about losing them - they will lose you and start talking among themselves. Be professional - reward yourself with a glass of wine after the event.
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Top 7 Power and the Point of Powerpoint Tips
MS Powerpoint is a mature product in a mature industry and yet it is still the most frequently misused application on the market.
Why is this?
Well, the mistake that most inexperienced users make is that they think that Powerpoint is the presentation itself - whereas the truth is that Powerpoint is simply a tool to visually assist the speaker’s key messages.
People spend hours creating scores of slides with large chunks of text in a small font size. They then waste the presentational opportunity by reading the contents of each slide verbatim in a monotonous drone. This is more a case of assisted reading rather than imparting key messages with impact.
The presenter must take centre stage and take control. Do not be a slave to the PC or the projector. Your audience has come to listen to you and Powerpoint is simply a tool to visually assist you deliver your key messages.
It’s vital to have a structure so that you can map out what is about to happen. This assists the audience enormously when you tell them what you’re going to tell them. Remember to consistently use fonts and font sizes. Use non-serif fonts. No more than 2 per page. If your company has a logo or brand, ensure it appears in each page (master slide - usually bottom right hand corner).
Ensure you have only one key point per slide. Ensure that each slide serves its purpose and pulls its weight. Can your audience read the slide?
Know your audience - who are they and what's in it for them? Are you there to inform, persuade, inspire, motivate? Stick to your theme. We are all guilty of trying too hard to please. Sticking to the theme will help the audience enormously – confusing messages or themes makes the audience feel uncomfortable and you will see them shifting in their seats if they are confused.
Know your PC.
Find out which type of PC you’ll be using as the specification for each PC can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Email your presentation to the organisers and take a copy on a memory stick, just in case. Most modern laptops no longer use floppy disks. Find out in advance and always expect the unexpected.
Also, make sure that you address your audience and do not talk directly to the screen. As always your primary concern is your audience. Without an audience, there is no requirement for a speaker. When you deliver a key message or even a key line, make sure that you’re looking directly at the audience and not at your notes. That will give your point added weight and greater impact.
Use a remote mouse - it highly distracting for the audience if you are hunched over the PC during the presentation. Being free to move around the stage and address individual segments of the audience will make certain that you’ll look calm and professional. That, of course, is exactly what you want. Being invited to speak again is your reward for your hard work, preparation and delivery.
How to create a positive impact when speaking in public. What to do and what not to do when addressing an audience. Making your speeches memorable by focusing your words on the audience. It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it. Speaking with confidence, coherence and clarity.
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Top 7 Reasons To Host a Seminar
In an increasingly competitive business world, complete with inklings from top economists that we may be heading for a recession, it’s vital that business professionals plan ahead for leaner times. Part of your plan to help ensure continuing success in the New Year ought to include hosting seminars. While the thought of hosting seminars may terrify you; when you consider all of the benefits that hosting seminars will yield both personally and professionally, any trepidation you feel should begin to subside. Here are the Top 7 Reasons to Host a Seminar this coming year.
Increases Your Visibility.
Consider that in order for people to conduct business with you, they need to know who you are! Hosting a seminar is a great way to let more people know who you are and what you do. Visibility enhancement occurs through two primary mediums; the marketing of your seminar, and word of mouth. Through marketing your seminar (email campaigns, invitations, fliers, and calendar listings) your name is made visible to countless new people. Word of mouth visibility is derived from attendees telling others your name. This can happen when they tell friends or colleagues that they plan to attend your seminar, or after the seminar when they share with others what they learned.
Positions You As An Expert On A Specific Subject.
When you host a seminar you in effect, position yourself as an expert on a given topic. After all, you wouldn’t host a seminar on a topic you knew nothing about! People will begin to associate your name with specific subject matter via two main methods. They will make the first association through reading a calendar listing or flier announcing your seminar. Then, the second association will be cemented after people have attended your seminar (where you will have demonstrated your expertise.)
Positions You As An Expert On Related Subjects.
By hosting a seminar, you reap the added benefit of being viewed as an expert not only on the specific subject you cover in your presentation, but on related subjects as well. As an example let’s say that you’re a financial planner, and you’ve decided to host a seminar on “Mutual Funds: How To Make Them Work For You.” By hosting this seminar, attendees first associate your name and expertise with investing in mutual funds. However, the second association they are liable to make is that as a financial planner you probably don’t recommend that your clients put all of their money into mutual funds, so you undoubtedly have expertise in other investment options as well.
Improves Public Speaking Skills.
There’s no getting around the fact that public speaking is intimidating to the majority of people. However, as a result, good public speakers are highly sought after individuals. Obviously, the more seminars you host, the better you’ll become at speaking in front of live audiences. As you progress in your skills, don’t be surprised to find that attendees begin asking you present a seminar to their clients or even their companies. By taking advantage of this opportunity, you’ll be given yet another opportunity to introduce yourself as an expert to even more people.
Allows You To Educate Others.
This reason for hosting a seminar is so obvious that it is easily overlooked. Hosting a seminar allows you to share valuable information with others, which may just make a positive impact in their lives. Whether you’re informing them on a new product that will benefit their families, instructing them how to live healthier lifestyles, or simplifying subject matter that may seem illusive; your seminar allows you to educate others. That in and of itself is a personal reward, but it will also lead to professional rewards.
Generates New Business Leads.
By hosting a seminar, you automatically earn business leads, just from those who attend. While it’s unlikely that everyone who attends your seminar will immediately want to conduct business with you, you may find that at least one or two attendees are eager to discuss your services in a later meeting.
If nothing else, you will at least have potential business leads to follow up with in the days following your seminar.
Provides Opportunity To Earn Referrals.
Referrals can make or break your success, particularly in an economic downturn. When you decide to host a seminar, you’re opening the door to invite in referrals. Although your attendees may not have need for your particular service; when you follow up with them after the seminar, they may refer you to someone who does.
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Top 7 Ways to Increase Attendance on Your Next Conference Call
You’ve done everything to get ready, you’ve got a great message, and you’ve gotten the word out and are ready to roll. Now the waiting game starts, how many people will actually attend your conference call?
Send an email reminder to all registered participants one day before the planned teleconference call.
Make sure to do a press release announcing your event up to one week before your scheduled teleconference call. Or better yet, do a press release announcement 30 days out and then another 7 days out.
Promote your teleconference call heavily on your website, in your blog, and in your monthly e-newsletter. Use image icons in addition to search engine spiderable text to draw the reader’s eye to the information.
Add a line below your email signature for all correspondence with your upcoming conference call information and a brief sentence of what the call is about and how to sign up.
Send an email reminder out one hour before the conference call on the day of the call.
Create an alternative date for those who may have inadvertently missed the call or had a last minute scheduling conflict. Post this on your website after your call has happened.
After the conference call, send all participants a link to the recorded call so that they can get the information and exposure to your information even if they could not attend. This may help with future conference call registrations.
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Top 7 Guidelines for Gesturing When You Speak
When I coach executives who want to become more effective speakers, or when I direct a presentation skills seminar, there's one question I hear repeatedly:
"How should I gesture when I give a speech?"
Usually the questioner adds: "I feel awkward enough just trying to remember my speech. Then the tension escalates when I realize that audience members are watching my movements as well as listening."
Here are the Top 7 Guidelines I give them--and now you.
NEVER PLAN OR CAN A GESTURE
Speakers who plan or can gestures, rehearse them, and then insert them at the time they seemingly fit their message will resemble robots.
Would you consider planning a gesture for a one-on-one conversation? Of course not. You just let gestures happen. You gesture when a hand or arm motion expresses your mood. Follow that approach when you face an audience. Listeners will consider you genuine and likable.
CHECK VIDEOTAPE TO ELIMINATE ANNOYING GESTURES
Three years ago I watched videotapes of four one-hour speeches I
had given for a client. Much to my amazement, I noticed a gesture
that I wasn't aware of at all--not terribly offensive as a one-time motion,but it became very annoying when I did it over and over. Soon I eliminated the problem.
So I encourage you to videotape your speeches, and select what you need to stop doing. The camera doesn't lie. You can spot flaws and make changes.
USE GESTURES APPROPRIATE FOR YOU
Yes, we have opportunities to watch highly animated speakers who
gesture with captivating vitality--candidate Barack Obama, evangelist Joel Osteen, marketing expert Terry Brock, newscaster Kiran Chetry, and success guru Tony Robbins. We think, "If that works for him or her, I'll adopt that pattern."
You'd be just as mistaken to try to copy those speakers' fingerprints. Gestures emerge from an individual's personality and communication style. Follow Ralph Waldo Emerson's advice: "Imitation is suicide. I must be myself."
GESTURE VISIBLY ENOUGH FOR LARGER AUDIENCES
Adjust the range of your gestures to match your audience size. A
gesture you use for a staff meeting of twelve people would hardly
catch attention with an audience of 500, much less have impact.
LIMIT YOUR GESTURES FOR TELEVISION INTERVIEWS
To stick within the camera range, gesture close to your body. Otherwise,you could exceed the lens boundaries.
PUT YOUR BEST FACE FORWARD
With facial expressions, it's important that you relax enough to enable your face muscles to correspond with the mood you are feeling. Here again, videotape helps. You'll learn that a spontaneous smile helps your audience enjoy your humorous comments
MOVE AWAY FROM THE LECTERN OR PODIUM
There's a tendency to hold on to a lectern or podium with the same
tenacity of a drowning man holding a life preserver. We fear
letting go. What would happen if we drifted away?
Just this--walking away to another spot frees you to gesture. Even when I deliver convention keynote speeches, I ask my host to provide a small table for my materials and remove the lectern. Ordinarily I wander away from the table about five minutes into my speech,roaming the audience.
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Top 7 Causes of Stress in Public Speaking
Public speaking is a common source of stress in the modern workplace. Whether you work alone or with large numbers of people, the chances are great that you will need to speak in public at some point no matter how much you might wish to avoid the experience.
If your project or career goals include taking a leadership role in your organization, you will almost certainly need to speak regularly to groups, large and small, on your road to achieving them. Here are ten common causes of public speaking anxiety, stress and some tips for avoiding them.
Believing that public speaking is naturally stressful.
Public speaking need not be stressful at all. If you correctly understand the causes of public speaking stress and take care to address them, with practice speaking in public will become an stimulating and satisfying experience for you.
Having the wrong objectives.
Public speaking is about having an effect on your audience - to educate, motivate or persuade them. This is where your focus and purpose should be. Concentrate on what will benefit your audience, not yourself.
Trying to cover too much material.
Don't try to accomplish too much in the time you are given. Instead, be realistic with your speech objectives given the time you are allocated.
Accept the fear, don’t fight it.
The worst thing you can do when you’re nervous is to notice your own anxiety and start worrying about that too. Just accept any nervousness you feel just as you would accept that the carpet is blue or the walls are white. Trying to force yourself to calm down or hide signs of nervousness can backfire and make your problem worse.
Trying to emulate or imitate other speakers.
You've likely attended more than a few events where you've listened to professional speakers or trainers give a presentation. Don't be stressed up and make the mistake of trying to duplicate or clone their speaking style. Instead, simply be yourself. This will allow you to concentrate your full attention on your material and your audience.
Failing to be personally revealing and humble.
Telling personal stories to illustrate your points can have a profound impact on your audience and their receptiveness to your message. However, few things will isolate an audience more quickly than arrogance. Instead, be humble when speaking about yourself and your achievements and experiences.
For every successful oratorical activity, there are three things a speaker has to put in mind: first is practice, second, practice, and third practice again. No one can underestimate the power of a constant yet effective speaking drill. This helps you memorize your lines and master them paving the way to creating adlibs as you go along the way.
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Top 7 Ways to Influence Your Audience and Deliver Powerful
How effective are your presentations? Do people seem captured by your words, data, and graphics? Do they look at you and your slides with intense interest? Do they come to you after the presentation commending you and asking for more on the subject? Perhaps that level of presentation success happens only once in a long while. People say that most presentations are boring and ineffective. How can you make yours more interesting and influential? Here are some suggested tips that might work:
Know your subject:
The one element that can make your presentation much easier on you and more influential to your audience is your mastery of the subject. Practices giving a presentation on your topic until you are confident that you know your topic inside out without having to look at slides or notes.
Speak to your audience’s interest:
It’s amazing how many presenters stand up and start talking about their project, their ideas, their product, as it what is of interest to them is also of interest to their audience. Follow the WIIFM concept (What’s In It For Me?) Tell your audience at the outset how what you will be talking about is going to benefit them.
Speak the language of your listeners:
A key concept in effective communication is to speak in the language of your listener. This means that you must not speak in your own preferred language, style, and point of view. If you want to be effective, you must make sure that you reach the audience by adopting their language, their style, their way of seeing things, and their level of comprehension. If you don’t reach them, you don’t influence them.
Talk to group one person at a time:
Don’t look in the outer space. Look at your audience one at a time. Spend a few seconds looking in the eyes of each person sitting in front of you, then move slowly to the next. This way each person will feel that you are talking to him or her personally.
Make it personal. Make it human:
Even if your presentation is technical, make it as human as you can. You make your presentation human by making it personal. Talk about your personal experience. Describe how you felt when. Be vulnerable. Be authentic. By funny, without necessarily telling jokes. Be natural. Be human.
Engage your audience:
Communication is a two way street. Avoid giving one-way speeches. Fill your presentations with questions that require your audiences’ answers. Use quizzes to intrigue them. Ask those who have similar experiences to raise their hands. Get them involved. If you have time, give them time to speak and present their view points.
Being natural and authentic does not mean you stand up there whispering in your normal voice. If you are presenting then you are on stage. You must perform. You need to raise your voice, move, and waive your hands. You are the center of attention and the focal point of your audience. Don’t let them sleep in their seats. Your movements, voice, and body language should all be dynamic enough to keep your audience awake and interested.
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Top 7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Voice
Your phone rings. You answer, and the caller says hello, without identifying herself. Yet immediately you recognize her voice—even though you haven’t spoken with her in more than ten years. How are you able to do that? There’s no mystery here, for voices are highly distinct and distinguishable, sort of our “signature in sound.” Your voice is you.
That being the case, you’ll want to make the most of your voice, especially when you speak to audiences. Here are seven steps for putting your best voice forward.
Before your speech, be kind to your vocal chords by avoiding cold water, which constricts your speaking mechanism.
To quench your thirst, go with a warm or lukewarm liquid. And stay away from liquids for the last two or three minutes prior to your speech, to avoid getting choked temporarily by swallowing the wrong way. On that point, swallowing your liquid is safer than sipping.
Let your words display a continuing flow, without too many unnecessary pauses when you appear to be searching for the next word. That mannerism distracts listeners, who might think you have forgotten something.
Speak in your regular conversational tone.
No need to sound like a broadcaster, because you aren’t one. Your audience wants to think that a real person is speaking with them personally, as individuals. Decades ago, President Franklin Roosevelt accomplished this personalization in his popular “Fireside Chats” on radio.
Consider speaking with a faster rate.
Listeners can understand you when you speak rapidly, because our minds can absorb words two or three times faster than the normal speaking rate. Also, think about the speakers you consider the most dynamic ones. Aren’t they rapid-fire? Usually, yes.
A word of caution: You don’t have to exaggerate as much as the used car salesmen on TV. Work toward achieving a revved up pace that doesn’t smack of artificiality.
My college speech professor advised students to “leave out everything but the pauses.” Remember that a pause never seems as long to the audience as it does to you, assuming the speaker still looks like he is in control. Pauses help you emphasize certain points, give your audience a few seconds of mental rest, and bring in the variety we have called for with rate and volume.
Analyze your vocal quality with every opportunity you can create.
Record your speeches and listen to them afterward. You don’t have to use expensive, bulky equipment. For a very modest price, you can purchase a small device that fits inconspicuously in your coat or jacket pocket.
Of course, the most effective way to analyze your vocal quality is to enlist the services of a speech coach. Your speech coach will give you objective feedback, telling you what needs attention, and offering specific steps for improvement. Through the magic of the Internet, you can work with a speech coach many miles away when you can’t find one locally.
Use your own voice, without imitating anyone else’s.
I like the way Roger Ailes, Chairman of Fox Broadcasting, put this: “Nobody can play you as well as you can.”
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Top 7 Characteristics of Great Speakers
Have you admired speakers who seem to captivate the audience instantly, hold attention throughout, change the tone from humorous to intensely serious with a seamless transition, overcome distractions, generate frequent applause, and by the end of the presentation have the listeners change their beliefs, even their actions? Have you wanted to become that speaker?
I have good news for you. You can progress to that stage. How? By recognizing the top seven characteristics of great speakers.
Top-caliber speakers strike you as authoritative. You consider them experts. Clearly, they have mastered their topic.Through long hours of preparation,possibly even years, they have earned the right to speak with credibility.
Mastery may or may not include academic degrees in that area. Primarily, mastery results from wide reading, research, interviewing experts, and learning through professional associations, not because you have to but because you have an overwhelming urge to learn all you can on this theme.
Keep this in mind: Great speakers don't settle for reading articles in popular magazines, watching TV specials, or coffee shop conversations. No amount of showmanship could compensate for lack of expertise.
Outstanding speakers avoid saying they are going to deliver a speech. That sounds too bland and routine, like delivering a package. Instead, they visualize having a dinner conversation with friends, when you'd share your ideas naturally, with no pretense.
In fact,the finest speech coaches suggest that a speech should become a lively conversation with your audience. Roger Ailes, who served as a speech coach for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said: "The best communicators I've ever known never changed their style of delivery from one situation to another." Ailes observed that they were the same whether they are "delivering a speech, having an intimate conversation, or being interviewed on a TV talk show."
The audience becomes the centerpiece of attention. If the speaker focuses too much on herself and the impression she is making, she will become unnerved by a simple mispronunciation, and will lose confidence and poise. If the speaker focuses too much on the message, the event turns into a lifeless recitation.
Note: Terrific speakers focus mostly on the audience.They find ways to involve audiences, creating interactive sessions, involving attendees in discussion, and directing meaningful small group activities.
Listeners don't want to wonder if the speaker has a pulse. So start by selecting a topic that mesmerizes you, demands your total commitment. Then you won't have to simulate enthusiasm.
Seek what actors call "the illusion of the first time." Although you have thought these thoughts hundreds of times, your listeners want spontaneity, as though you had just discovered these ideas and words.
Vary your voice in pitch, rate, and volume, just as you do in casual chit chat.
Gesture freely, naturally, without rehearsed motions.
Think back to your childhood days. When a parent or other relative sat by your bed at night and said, "Once upon a time," a magical world opened for you. As long as you can remember, stories grabbed you, and wouldn't let go until you had heard all of the fables.
As adults, we still respond to intriguing stories. People learn from and remember the anecdotes, not your statistics.
Paint word pictures. Create a "you are there" sensation.
Yes, "casual dress" has permeated the work place. The trend started with Casual Fridays, with more days added eventually. Even so, speakers need to look like professionals when they face audiences.
Your audience wants you to dress a level above their garb, just to indicate respect for them and the situation. Check with your club or convention host to determine the appropriate dress style. Fifteen years ago, a coat and tie were mandatory for male speakers. Now a mock turtle neck and classy blazer are likely to match expectations.
As casual as society has become, good grooming still matters.
You don't have to fit a mold that seems right for most other presenters.
Other presenters may cling tightly to a podium, while you choose to wander among the audience, even getting comments from those in the back of the auditorium.
Other speakers may never quote poetry, yet you can do that if you select a poem that illustrates your point compellingly.
Other speakers may avoid magic, acrobatics, singing, props, or impersonation. But if any of those work well for you, be atypica
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Top 7 Ways to Become a Grade-A Speaker
You keep a checklist handy for many of your regular tasks--grocery shopping, scheduling your day and week, and creating a hyperlink, for example. Because your profession requires you to speak to groups frequently, you have often wished you could keep a speech preparation check-list handy, to remind you how to get ready to generate the results you want. You won't have to wait any longer. Here is your checklist for top-level speech preparation.
Adopt an upbeat ATTITUDE.
Form a mental picture of success. Assume you have something worth saying, and that you will say it well. Anticipate your audience's unbroken attention, laughter, and applause. Picture your listeners participating actively in discussion, with relevant questions and comments reflecting their rapt attention. Saturate your mind with these affirmative expectations, leaving no room for doubt and fear.
Focus on the AUDIENCE
This way, you won't become excessively concerned about yourself--whether you are making a favorable impression and holding the group's attention. Those self-directed thoughts can become obsessive, distracting you from your main purpose: helping your listeners understand and accept your message. And remember, audiences want you to succeed. Successful speakers make meetings and conferences enjoyable and productive. Audience members aren't critics, they are your cheerleaders. Embrace them emotionally even before you say your first word--then they'll embrace you.
Listeners don't want to wonder if you have a pulse. So don't read or recite your message. . . tell it, as energetically as you would describe a fun weekend. Move away from the podium, gesture freely, vary your voice, just as you do in casual chit chat. Create what actors call "The Illusion of the First Time." If you use Power Point, rely on the slides as prompts, not as your script. Take a minute to jot down the names of three speakers you rate very highly. Note: Every one of them strikes you as energetic, vital, and sometimes dramatic. They ignite you because they sparkle.
Remain on the lookout for audience feedback. When you detect confusion, restate your point. When you see listeners nod in agreement, let their support energize you. If participants start checking their watches, change your pace or tell a relevant story to recapture their attention. Better still, direct the group in brief interactive dialogue to elevate interest.
Some of our most cherished childhood memories revolve around bedtime, when parents or others read stories to us, stimulating our imagination and transporting us into majestic eras and scenes. As adults, we continue to love "once upon a time," though speakers use different introductory phrasing. People remember and learn from your stories, not from statistics. Paint word pictures, giving a "you are there" feeling. Use suspense with the skill of a novelist. Paul Harvey carved a grand speaking career on radio as a master story teller, and Zig Ziglar did the same from the speaker's platform.
Sharpen your APPEARANCE
Although casual and sometimes sloppy dress have gained some acceptance (which you can verify at any public event, and even in numerous work settings), your audience wants you to dress a notch or two above its norm. Tasteful, professional clothing reflects that you respect them and the occasion. Additionally, your grooming and manners should supplement your professional image. Not surprisingly, you will gain confidence and energy as well when you look your best and present yourself as a polished professional.
Do something different from other speakers. Audiences withdraw from the "some old same old," so they are drawn to creative speakers who go beyond offering a standard three points and a summary. Examples: include unusual props, impersonations, games, regular audience interaction, or magic if that's your talent. Note: Every season, new TV shows succeed because they become distinctive.
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Top 7 Reasons Not to Begin Your Speech by Telling a Joke
A popular assumption implies that a speaker should start his or her speech by telling a joke, to get listeners in an upbeat mood and grab attention instantly. Like many widespread assumptions, this one is wrong. Here are seven good reasons not to start your speech by telling a joke.
Your joke could offend the audience.
After all, don't most jokes have a "fall guy," who becomes the brunt of your ridicule? Often the fall guy is a group-geographic, ethnic, gender, or age related.
"But," you respond, "the audience I am speaking to doesn't include anybody from the group I'm jesting about." Maybe not-yet some of your audience members may harbor strong sympathy for your targeted group. The result: Your verbal jabs will alienate these listeners immediately, and you will have little likelihood of regaining their attention.
At a civic club luncheon, a speaker launched his speech with an off color joke. Much to his surprise, a female club member walked to the microphone after he sat down, and said quite sternly: "I know I speak for many of us when I say that the joke our guest speaker told was offensive, and was totally inappropriate for our group."
While negative reactions might not become vocalized like that, even silent embarrassment and resentment will establish barriers you cannot remove.
Your audience might not like the joke.
Possibly they don't understand it, or you botch the punch line. Instead of laughter, you generate blank stares. An audible disruption starts when audience members start murmuring to each other, "Explain that one to me."
Johnny Carson's fans remember one of his most remarkable assets: his ability to recover from a joke that bombed, making fun of himself--sometimes with a few dance steps or tapping the microphone to pretend the audience hadn't heard his joke. Yet most of us lack the poise to maneuver that creatively. We have to endure the absence of applause and laughter that we had expected.
Your audience might like the joke too much.
Think back to a time when you heard a speaker tell the best joke you ever heard, at the outset of her speech. You laughed loudly, winked at the people at your table, and started writing down the joke so you could tell it to your friends. Now note--while you were doing all this, the speaker had moved well into her first point, which you had missed. As a result, the speech seemed to lack continuity for you.
Yes, amazingly, your opening joke could succeed too well.
Telling jokes might not be your strong suit.
Oh sure, you can crack jokes and hear raucous laughter from your golf or luncheon pals, whom you have known for years. In fact, all of you swap jokes easily and frequently. Your success in these informal settings could lead you to assume that you're a born entertainer.
However, handling jokes with a group of people you don't know differs greatly. The standard convivial mood that exists among your closest friends is missing. You have to earn credibility from your listeners, not lean on the esteem that has grown through years of association.
Think back to the times you have tried joke-telling in your speaking. Was it worth the risk? Did you feel too much tension worrying about possible failure? Or have you been one of those rare presenters who accomplishes the proverbial "get them rolling in the aisles"?
Assess, quite candidly, whether joke-telling is your strong suit. Facing your limitations honestly could prevent speaking failures that derail your message.
The audience might have heard the joke already.
Consider how the Internet has made it much tougher to come up with a joke not known to your audience. How many times a week do your friends e-mail you the same joke? Well, that's happening among your audience members as well.
Additionally, when you're speaking at a civic club, speakers from two or three weeks ago could have told the joke you planned for today's speech.
You might appear too flippant to some audience members.
Practically every audience contains a few participants who want only the facts, nothing else. Hearing your joke, these stern listeners judge--without waiting to see otherwise--that you are lacking in substance. They will tune you out immediately, and permanently. Why risk losing them?
You will surprise your audience by not starting with a joke.
Joke-telling at the outset has become common enough to be ranked as trite. Start some other way, and your audience will welcome your new approach. Among your options: Describe a relevant personal experience, quote someone they respect, talk about your knowledge of the community and the organization,offer a startling statistic, or pose a provocative question.
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