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Speak for Success!

"Be a voice not an echo." - Albert Einstein

10 Techniques for Moving Your Audiences in Public Speaking

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When was the last time you listened to a speech or presentation that took your breath away?

Excited or inspired you?

Resonated in your mind, staying in your thoughts long after the speaker had finished?

Made you feel good?

In business, government, nonprofit service, and nearly every activity we can think of, people talk to persuade, educate, and move listeners. (To make your own speeches and presentations unforgettable, download my free cheat sheet, "5 Ways to Captivate an Audience.") Yet how many speakers don't succeed at those tasks? Most presentations sink without a trace—because most presenters hardly know they can do anything differently.

Too many speakers, that is, give presentations the same old way, without a thought to innovating or reaching listeners more powerfully. Yet public speaking is much more than simply delivering information to an audience. At a two-day training I conducted for the Permanent Mission of Sudan to the United Nations, the deputy permanent representative said to me, "I thought we hired you to give us a few tips. But now we know that there's an ocean of influence involved in public speaking, and we have waded in just up to our knees."

How wonderful a way to put it, I thought that day. And how true. Here are 10 techniques you need to know to be a more powerful and influential speaker. They go far beyond the everyday to help you truly reach and move your listeners. Something special and powerful should happen in the room where you speak, that will positively affect your audience from that moment on. You can start your journey—and theirs—by learning to excel in these ten areas:

1. Calming Your Nerves and Gaining Confidence.  It's a shorter journey than you think from nervousness to charisma. Find exercises that help you relax in no more than 5 minutes, for you may find yourself with no more time than that before speaking. Learn to be honest when you speak, aiming to communicate rather than impress. Pay less attention to your content than being comfortable in front of people and establishing rapport with them. Audiences won't remember the facts and figures you toss their way, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

2. Know How to Prepare and Organize Your Topic. The key to success in public speaking is understanding your purpose, and putting together a presentation that accomplishes it. No matter how little time you have to prepare, slow down, step back and think carefully about the make-up of your audience and how you can turn them on. Too many speakers just throw content together and then go out and blast it at their listeners. Use an outline to help organize your thoughts. And always, learn how to tell stories when you speak.

3. Understand How to Achieve Presence and Charisma. Stage presence starts with simply being present. That means directing your energy outward (toward listeners) rather than inward (toward yourself). Have faith in your natural talents as a speaker, for you have many. In fact, there is no one in the entire world who can succeed as well as you can when you speak—for the audience wants you and no one else. Learn how to breathe diaphragmatically, for that calms and centers you. Be honest with audiences and practice speaking to them and not at them. Educate yourself on using body language well, for your best visual aid is you. Watch speakers who use their physical presence to express what they're saying as well as their voice.

4. Use the Power of Your Voice. Apart from what you're saying, body language is the most noticeable aspect of your performance. And inappropriate body language can even overwhelm your message. Next on the scale of powerful presentation tools is your voice. Vocal expressiveness means the difference between a speaker who's pleasant and interesting to listen to, and one who sends his or her listeners to presentation limbo or even straight to hell. Is your voice helping or hurting you—are you aware of which it is? The five essential vocal tools are energy, pitch inflection, pace, use of silence, and vocal quality. How good are you at using each of them? You should also learn these vocal techniques for becoming a dynamic speaker.

5. Create Dynamic Introductions and Conclusions. Your opening is like a rocket launch: If it goes well, your mission has a good chance of succeeding; if it doesn't, your mission faces difficulties before it even gets off the ground. This is because of the concept of primacy, which states that audiences retain best what they experience first. Similiar is the concept of recency, which says that audience members strongly retain what they experience last. That means your conclusion. Do you grab your audience's attention immediately, letting them know you're going to be interesting? Here are 12 foolproof ways to open a speech. And do you finish in ways that make what you say resonate long after you've finished speaking? Here are ways to end a speech vividly and memorably. If you don't think carefully and creatively about how you'll get your audience onboard and make your ending memorable, you'll stay in the second rank of speakers.

6. Learn to Stay Focused and On Message. How focused are you when you present? Do intrusive thoughts pull you away from your message, making you stand outside yourself and judge how you're doing? Or do you know the 10 ways to stay fully focused when speaking? Do you know how audiences are persuaded and learn? Are you good at not just educating but inspiring listeners? If these seem like high hurdles, it may be because you're more concerned with your own performance than the needs of your audience. When you live in their world, everything you do and say will be focused on getting through to them and changing them for the better. So fall out of love with your content and in love with your listeners. Study the people you'll be speaking to and what their needs are. You may be amazed at how the rest of your presentation, including your own performance, falls into place.

7. Engage and Motivate Your Audience. Both concepts are equally important. Audiences that aren't engaged simply won't be receptive to your message and the action you want them to take. For them to take that action, you need to motivate them to do so. Take these three steps to bring an audience—any audience—with you: (1) perform an audience analysis so you know your listeners' needs, expectations, and preferences; (2) decide on your specific purpose and the information you need to bring in to accomplish it; (3) consciously think about how you're going to engage your listeners with that information. And watch the body language of your audience when you speak. In the places where they're confused, skeptical, or restless, you need to think on your feet and keep the engagement going, so the motivation you're looking for occurs.

8. Know How to Deal with Challenges and Resistance. Every speaker, no matter how talented, faces resistance. That's a good thing, because audience members who are skeptical, questioning, or resistant are actively engaged with what you're saying: they haven't turned off. Try to understand the underlying cause of the resistance, not necessarily what is said on the surface. Listen for emotions, and be aware of how you yourself sound in response, making sure you avoid defensiveness. Disagree as neutrally as possible; and above all else, remember your purpose in giving this speech or presentation. That purpose shouldn't fly out the window just because you're defending your statements; and for too many speakers, it does.

9. Handle Q & A Like a Pro. Understand that Q & A is the "forgotten avenue to audience persuasion." Anyone, that is, can give a prepared presentation. But the speaker who handles himself or herself with knowledge, style, wit, and presence is the one giving the true demonstration of professionalism. As stated above, don't be afraid of questions and challenges; if you truly know your stuff, it will be revealed. Learn the difference between what I call the "7 Danger Zones of Q & A" and how to handle each of them.  And understand why you need to ask the right questions yourself.

10. Learn the Nuts & Bolts of Presentations. These are the practical issues that every speaker needs to have "under the belt." They include how food affects your speaking energy, how to speak from notes or a manuscript, dealing with lecterns and microphones, The 4 Golden Rules for Using PowerPoint, and other often neglected but important considerations. Also included are not only speaking more effectively in presentations, but 7 Tips for Successful Job Interviews, and giving toasts and speaking on special occasions. 

If you want to do the things discussed at the beginning of this article—to inspire audiences, make them feel good about attending your presentation, or even take their breath away—these 10 techniques are an enjoyable and exciting place to start. Make them your next project to advance your confidence, your career, and your influence on the people that are waiting to hear you.
complete guide to effective public speaking

 

 

Tags: presentation skills,public speaking skills,powerful public speaking

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