For many presenters the challenge of speaking is the most daunting part of the process. While many audiences will be prepared to forgive the odd verbal fumble if the presentation itself is relevant and engaging it’s still important to get it right. We asked Priscilla Morris, speaking guru and friend of Eyeful to share some tricks of the trade…
Did you realise that speaking in public is scientifically proven to be one of the scariest challenges we face? Many people avoid presenting because they fear the unknown. “I’ll forget my words”, they say or, more tellingly, “they might not like me”.
Let’s take away some of the mystique associated with public speaking and approach it as a skill that can be learnt. Yes, extroverts will always find it easier than introverts, but anyone can be successful if they understand that delivery is all-important. So how can you achieve the right balance?
Your message needs to be clear, i.e. plan the structure with care and the vocabulary with reference to the audience.
Your delivery needs to be precise, i.e. speech should be articulated firmly, and you should have an awareness of accent, which might form a barrier to understanding.
Do you understand the pace at which we process information? This varies according to size of audience and acoustics of venue, but generally, it will be much slower than you think. Unfortunately we all have internal timing, which determines our average speed. If people say you are too fast, they are really saying they cannot process the information you are giving them.
Learn to use pauses to give time for thought and to stop you gathering speed.
Your audience will opt out if you don’t keep their interest, and to do that you have to introduce lots of variation.
We call this Vocal Modulation and it includes the use of pitch, pace, pause, power, tone and inflection.
We have a habitual way of using these but can also learn to take control and use them as markers and highlighters within a speech.
If you have ever heard someone reading a speech aloud, you will probably have experienced a lack of this essential element. Sincerity comes from emotion and we can only put this across by making a clear personal connection with the words.
All speakers should aim for spontaneity and this manifests itself in the ability of the speaker to convince us that they mean every word you. You should allow your personality to come through and if this is not a naturally comfortable environment for you, create a persona that takes over when you present. None of this is easy, but it all comes from the last of my tips……
When training, a particularly erudite professor told me, that you should do 1 hour’s practice for every 1 minute of speaking. This may fill you with horror but remember we are talking about realisation from start to finish, so it includes research and planning. However, speaking your words are aloud is also vital. If you cannot stand before your audience with total belief in your ability to succeed, nerves are likely to affect your performance. Try to work from cue cards, because a speech written out in full often sounds more like an essay.
If you take some of these ideas on-board you will give yourself CONFIDENCE – and so, we return neatly to the beginning.
Obviously, these tips are not exhaustive and space has determined that they are rather simplistic but just remember to be:
C.R.I.S.P. when speaking in public and then you will
SPEAK YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!
Priscilla Morris is an expert in vocal communication who has spent the last 27 years as a global LAMDA examiner in performance and public speaking. Drawing on her own experience as an actress and incorporating her in-depth knowledge of the science of communication, Priscilla is in huge demand as both a speaking trainer and a public speaker in her own right. In 2000 Priscilla set up her business, Loud & Clear Voice Coaching to provide specialist training and insight to those who want to communicate effectively.