I'm sure that you've heard this before, but your audience is sizing you up once they lay eyes on you. Sure, we hope that they have good listening skills, but this may not matter. You've got somewhere in the neighborhood of about 30 seconds or so to make a good first impression. It's not just what you say, but even more importantly it's what your body is saying to your audience that is going determine what they think about your speech. Sure seems like we should figure out what your body is telling them...
The Eyes Have It
In the world of fancy PowerPoint slides in which we all live, it can be easy to think that it's all of the extras like presentation tips that we bring to a speech that really count. Guess what, it's the old standbys that will allow you to really communicate with your audience - simple things like making eye contact with them.
It turns out that your eyes are the most expressive part of your face. You do need to be careful where in the world you are giving your speech. In the West, direct eye contact is expected. Looking away or avoiding direct eye contact will make you come across as being shifty.
However, in Asian cultures, the opposite is true. Lower eyes are a sign of respect and honor. Too much direct eye contact will not be appreciated.
In the West, you want to shoot for making enough direct eye contact with your audience. You should try for making direct eye contact for roughly 60% of your speech.
Become A Mirror To Your Audience
Your audience will tell you what they are currently thinking by the way that they position their bodies. This is a great help to you when you want to connect with them.
In order to start to build a bridge from the stage to your audience, what you are going to want to do is to "mirror" your audience. This occurs when you take on the body posture and language that your audience currently has. If they are crossing their arms, then you do the same. If they are slumping in their chairs, then you do the same.
Once you've connected with them by mirroring their body language, then you can lead them to where you want them to go. When you uncross your arms, they'll uncross their arms. When you stand up straight, they'll sit up straight. You are in control of your audience when this happens.
3 Tips For Improving Your Body Language
We all know about the importance of public speaking. Having powerful and effective body language is a skill that every public speaker needs. In order to get this skill, you need to know what you have to do.
To boost your body language skills from where they are to the next level, there are 3 things that you need to do as a speaker:
Watch People: You are going to be speaking to an audience that is already "somewhere". You need to find out where that is and join them before you start to speak. Take a look at the body language that they are transmitting and then match them before you take the stage.
Learn From The Pros: We can always learn from the professionals who are paid the big bucks to speak. YouTube is littered with speeches from professional speakers. Additionally, you can switch on any of the nightly news programs and watch a true professional use their body language to deliver the daily news to an audience of millions.
Take A Step Back: In order to do a better job of using your body language to connect with your audience, you need to be able to understand what messages you are currently sending. Two ways to do this are to record yourself giving a speech and then play it back (yes, I know that this is hard to do; however, it really works) or practice giving your speech in front of a mirror.
What All Of This Means For You
In order to be an effective public speaker, you need to control not only the words that come tumbling out of your mouth, but also the story that your body is telling your audience. Being able to tell your story two different ways at the same time is one of the benefits of public speaking. This can be trickier than it sounds.
It turns out that with a bit of attention, you can control the message that your body is sending to your audience. To do this you need to be aware of your eyes, how your audience is positioning their bodies, and how others are seeing you.
Speakers who are able to combine their words and their body language so that they are both telling the same story can be very effective. Follow these suggestions and you'll have your next audience eating out of your hand!
Have you done any public speaking before? If you did, can you recall what happened the first time you spoke in front of a big group? If you have yet to experience any public speaking, imagine you are going to present a topic next week to a group of 100 people. How are you feeling now? If your answer includes words such as "fear", "nervous" and "uncomfortable", it is normal and I can understand that.
Do you agree that we all have fear? In my opinion, fear occurs because of uncertainty. When we are put into an unfamiliar situation, we feel uncomfortable and nervous. This is because we do not have similar experience in the past from which we can utilize to handle the current situation. Sometimes, having fear is a good sign. Suppose you are now at the edge of a cliff. You will not jump off the cliff because you have fear. However, when it comes to personal development, fear can act as a barrier to our personal growth. Accordingly, here is what I will do whenever I have fear - find resources to boost my confidence and take action in spite of fear.
I remember when I first spoke in front of a group of 150 people in 2001, I was nervous and my mind started creating different images about what could possibly happen if my presentation did not go well. As I continue my public speaking journey, I have discovered some techniques that can help to boost my confidence. The purpose of this article is to share with you some of these techniques I use. But before that, I would like to talk about one of my limiting beliefs about public speaking. I used to think that a top trainer must be an extraverted person because from my experience, he has lots of energy to engage with his participants. Some top trainers will even jump on the stage to build energy in the training room. As a result, my belief was that an introverted person would never be a top trainer. This is a logical deduction. What makes the matter worse is that according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ("MBTI"), I am an introverted person and I thought I would never be a top trainer. Of course, the fact that I labeled it as a limiting belief means that it had been unlocked. Here is my current belief - an introverted person can be a top trainer.
Now, let me share with you a few techniques I have been using over the years as an introverted-type trainer. Hopefully, you will benefit from my sharing:
According to MBTI, an introverted person prefers to communicate with the others on a topic with which he is familiar. Therefore, pick a topic you are familiar with and you have passion to share with the others. This will be a confidence booster in your public speaking journey.
Over the years, I have consciously modeled different world-class trainers and I believe you can consider following what I do. As a start, pick a few top trainers and observe the way they present, their voice projection and the tonality of the words they used. Also pay attention to their movement on the stage as well as their body language. Practice in front of a mirror and if possible, ask your friends to watch and listen to your presentation so that they can help you to identify your blind spots. On your part, keep an open mind and accept their constructive feedback.
I have found that having a script in front of me would boost my confidence. It is also very useful for a person like me who prefers "Intuition" to take in information as I am aware that I have the tendency to digress from the current topic. The script will help me to stay focused on the current topic and maintain the flow of the presentation.
Treat the participants as your friends. Before you start your topic, spend sometime to build rapport with your participants. When you earn the right to present the topic from your participants, your presentation will be smooth and steady. In addition, keep in mind that you have to continue maintaining rapport with your participants during your presentation and acknowledging their participation. Whenever a participant asks a question, remember to say "thank you for your question" before answering it.
I hope you will find the techniques I share in this article useful. The more you practice, the better you will be as a trainer.
Shockingly, the vast majority of people prefer interesting to boring. Who'd have guessed? And the principle applies in pitches and presentations.
We've all sat through talks that were Olympian accomplishments of mind-numbing banter. Some of us didn't make it out. Our next of kin had to be notified: "Sorry, ma'am. He was the victim of a series of unrelated bullet-points. There was nothing we could do for him."
To be persuasive, you have to be interesting. If they enjoy the experience of you, they will be more likely to hear you out. But what are the tools at your disposal? Here are 12 separate tactics from which you can choose, buffet-style, to invigorate your next presentation:
1. Tell stories. People think in terms of things that they can see, feel and vividly imagine. Stories bring points to life and are a communicator's best friend.
2. Use metaphors. Can you think of a unifying symbol - preferably something visual - that could become the central theme for your talk? Say it in a word picture. For instance, "We're not just here to sell you a product. We're here to pull your feet from the fire."
3. Use humour. The best kind of humour is natural, fits the topic, and takes only a few seconds to deliver. US President Barack Obama, while meeting with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said, "And I'm sure the Prime Minister wouldn't disagree with me... at least not while I'm around... "
4. Use a problem/solution structure. Instead of beginning with 'what your product can do', create a short story that highlights and emotionalises the consequences of the problem it was designed to solve. Then, begin your pitch with the problem, and lead up to the solution. The technique is used often in infomercials: "Do you have a soft, flabby stomach? Do your neighbours run and hide every time you wobble by? You need new Flabaway!"
5. Move more. Movement attracts the eye and stimulates the mind. Be assured: if you stand still and simply deliver a talk verbally from one spot for thirty minutes, hands at your sides, your audience will lose interest. My rule of thumb: move when telling a story, stand still when delivering a point.
6. Vary your voice tone. You might still get away with standing still for a while, provided your voice tone varies continually. But you can never get away with a boring or monotonous voice tone, no matter how much you move. Use a private room to practice delivering sentences in interesting and expressive ways.
7. Use visuals. The human mind is stimulated by visuals. But make them interesting. A block of text on a PowerPoint slide is not interesting. Sidebar: It may actually explain the origins of the walking un-dead.
8. Use pictures and stories in place of dry numbers. Your objective as a speaker is not to impart information, but to help your audience to understand. Information is only half of the job. Understanding is the goal. From this point of view, it's futile for you to have all the numbers at your fingertips if you are not able to make them meaningful to your audience. Use pictures and stories that help your audience to understand what those numbers actually mean.
9. Use audience interaction. Simply ask questions: "By a show of hands, how many of you regularly work out?" Audience interaction creates emotional involvement. Just don't overdo it. Once or twice is enough.
10. Prizes and outright bribery. Don't knock it. You'd be surprised how well people listen when they know they can win something at the end by answering a question correctly, or by volunteering for something.
11. Warmth and charm. Smile and direct warmth and enthusiasm toward your audience. Human connection is the entire point of public speaking. If it weren't important, we'd simply send the information as an email.
12. Brevity. The ultimate tool. Short, sharp and to-the-point. Works every time.
Remember, as a presenter, you are not in the business of zombie-creation. Your goal is to engage and persuade and there is an array of tools at your disposal. Now go get 'em!
I want to have a career with public speaking, but I don't know what to do? Is it possible? Will I make any money? Where do I start? How long will it take before I make a real income?...Good questions. I asked these or similar questions when I was interested in building a career with my public speaking talent. Here's what I found: you can employ practical planning and action...but using affirmations will help you yield greater results when combined (with planning and action).
So, ask yourself what you REALLY want. Do you want to make six figures? Want to have a career speaking to college students, elementary school students, elderly people? Want to talk to people in prisons, hospitals, or business meetings? Find out what people you feel most comfortable talking to or who needs to hear your message the most.
Figure out what you want to be paid, and what you really want your work life to be like. Travelling? Few hours? Speaking on video to people?
Once you have a clear idea about who you want to talk to, what you want to be paid, and what you want your work hours to be like, where, and how often, then you can begin constructing your affirmations.
Affirmations need to be clear, in present tense, and cultivate a feeling or emotion when said. They should also be said with conviction. You are basically saying a statement to convince your mind of the reality you want to have.
Be sure to say your affirmations often, whenever you can. The best time to say them is when you are waking up and as you are falling asleep... but also as often as possible. You can repeat your affirmations while you're driving, while you're in the shower, or getting dressed...any time that you are alone and have time, try to remember to use that time wisely to say your affirmations. Also, saying them while you look yourself in the eyes in a mirror is very powerful.
So, here's some examples of great affirmations you can use, but watch how they are written so you can customize your own affirmations based on what you want in a speaking career.
I give thanks that I am now creating a fun and rewarding public speaking career. I am now a successful public speaker...and I am paid handsomely. I am so grateful that I now have a successful career as a public speaker. I give thanks that I am now earning $10,000 per month as a highly sought after public speaker.
There are few abilities that can assist you more in life than being a skilled public speaker. This may be more true in our current era than any before it. Speaking well enables a person to get their message across, build relationships, attract clients and encourage others to get involved in movements seeking meaningful change.
And yet, a great deal of people are terrified of talking in front of crowds. It is one of the more widespread fears within our culture.
We can't all turn into a one in a million speaking talent. But just about all of us can get better at this extremely beneficial activity.
After all, moving an audience with your words involves at its root - despite however else it may seem to be - just a skillset. And just as we can practice and enhance our abilities with regards to other skillsets, such as those involved in sports or dance or playing music, we can also practice and enhance our abilities with the skillsets involved in public speaking. And realizing these things constitutes my first tip for you in developing your public speaking abilities.
The next tip would be that, even though you can work on some aspects of public speaking by yourself, ultimately it is something that really benefits from being practiced amongst others. There are some very helpful groups, such as Toastmasters, that you can join in order to find other smart and cooperative folks willing to help you - and be helped by you - as you travel on your journeys toward speaking excellence.
A group like Toastmasters can also help you in several others ways, as well:
They offer a proven step-by-step method, based on a series of milestones, that has helped many people gradually become better speakers.
They offer the chance to watch and interact with everyone from people who have never given a public speech in their life to award winning speakers and story tellers. Experience like that can do nothing but jumpstart your own learning process.
They provide a forum in which you can give real speeches to a real audience, as well as receive comments in response to each talk you give to help you improve your next one.
Of course, partaking in a group like Toastmasters, you will learn further tips to make you a better speaker and a few of the ones you are likely to encounter are below:
Get a Little Personal - Don't pour out every secret detail of your life, of course. But, in each talk, try to find a way to let your audience know a little more about you. It can help humanize you and encourage the listeners to care more about you and what you have to say.
A Bit of Humor Goes a Long Way - There is nothing that more consistently helps warm up an audience than some well-placed humor. A funny story or a clever joke, properly timed and delivered, is a great way to break the ice. There are some talks where humor may simply not be a good fit. But, if you use some creativity, you will find those are few and far between.
Tell a Story - People of all ages love a story. When you start to tell one, it is just natural for people to hang on with curiosity to hear what happens. And this gets them paying attention - attention that you can then work to hold on to throughout the rest of your speech.
This is simply a taste of the many tips available to help you develop your public speaking abilities. You can build upon them with a variety of other tips that are available to attain a high skill level and reap all the benefits that being a great communicator brings.
It probably won't happen overnight. Like anything worthwhile, it can take time and effort to improve. But it is time and effort that is often enjoyable and sure to be well spent.
Recently I was interviewed on a blog radio program and the host paused so long after every comment I made that I wondered how many listeners she really had. Yes, the internet station of which she is a member has an excellent listenership, but I seriously question whether this particular woman has any real following.
What is interesting is that she knows she has long, pregnant pauses which she thinks makes her program clearer. I disagree. I have found that those who pause for great lengths of time often have difficulty gathering their thoughts quickly. The problem is that most listeners do not have difficulty listening quickly.
Please understand that I am not talking about an individual who talks too fast. When this occurs, it is a good idea to give a little extra to the pause; however, waiting 5 or 6 seconds to respond to someone's comments is not productive.
As one who understood my topic, she should have been moving immediately to the next point or to the next question. Instead, there was silence. Long periods of silence. In fact, her pauses were so long that listeners might have thought they had lost their connection!
Normal speeds in speaking range anywhere from 140 words to 180 words per minute. And, the majority of people are able to listen quite comfortably to someone speaking within those limits. A normal pause, however, lasts about a second. It is extremely brief. Our ears are trained to listen to these brief pauses but we are not willing to wait 5 or 6 seconds for a conversation to resume. Once, maybe, if the host has lost his/her script, for example. But not every single time a comment has ended.
I love the pause. It is effective and one of most important things you should do in speaking, whether you are standing at a lectern, sitting at a conference table, or just having a conversation with your friends, family, or colleagues. It also has many benefits, allowing you to take a supplemental breath, to regroup, to organize your thoughts, and/or to transition to a new topic or sub-topic. Your audience needs the pause as well, allowing them to categorize their own thoughts.
What you don't want, however, is to pause too often or for too long. There is no doubt that a pregnant pause is effective once in a while. Just don't let it go into labor!