How did you learn to speak so well?
This is the question I get asked most after I finish a presentation. My answer is with power. Power is a verb. I gained public speaking power after I became a charter member of the Dawn-Breakers Toastmasters Club. Even though I had spoken in front of audiences before, very few people haven’t, I corralled my vocal power by taking this active step to learn the mechanics of better communication. Speaking with power is earned. As a speaker, you must work to earn platform power.
Here are six public speaking power tips:
- Plan your presentation or speech. Know what you want to say. The best way to plan your speech is to write it down. Begin with a free-flow of what you want your audience to learn; diagram it out in a logical sequence. Once your thoughts are in order, write the entire presentation/speech down and then read it aloud.
- Practice, pay attention to your vocal delivery. At this point you are saying what you wrote out loud. Some practice in front of a mirror, I do not. Pay attention to your delivery – make a note to indicate where you are making a pause. Underline the points you want to emphasize. Listen to your voice tone. Underscore where you need to pace yourself.
- Presence, presence, presence. The time has arrived for you to speak to an audience. You have planned your presentation and practiced until you are dry-mouthed. Now, all you need to remember is to be present. Seriously. Presence, presence, presence is the mantra for public speaking power. This means that you are in the moment, present with your authentic presence. Be real, that’s what audiences adore. Even though you may be nervous, you can overcome that with a delightful, engaging presence. People are there to hear you, not judge you. Be yourself!
- Punch them. Speaking is not a drab recitation of what you wrote. No one in the audience wants to see or hear you read from a paper. Instead, punch them with emotion, stories, gestures, antidotes, clean humor practical tips, and a call-to-action. Remember, you have practiced your speech enough at this point to talk from your soul – do that. Enliven what you have practiced, even if it is a technical talk, by adding audience punches which excite, engage and entertain them. Be at ease.
- Power your voice. Brevity is the voice of power. The main purpose of planning your speech is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Speak clearly, enunciate well, and talk in a loud enough conversational tone. Real speaking power is when you concisely say what you mean. Precision is endearing. Keep on point, talk precisely about what you want the audience to learn. Stick to the point and audiences will stick with you.
- Personalize the speech. Even if you do not know anyone in the audience, make what you are saying personal. One way to do that is to get to the room early and introduce yourself to people and then use their first name when you are making a point. Another way to personalize is to add tidbits about the company if it is a corporate presentation. Lastly, you personalize when you conclude smoothly and properly. Wrap up your presentation with an enthusiastic summary of your learning points and sit down.
Communicators relate to others. The essence of public speaking power is communicating and relating.
Read more posts by Anita Jefferson, expert in communication. Anita is a JenningsWire blogger.