Want to make your audiences eager to hear more? Here's how to avoid looking (and sounding) like a statue during public speaking!
Recently, I worked with an entrepreneur whose company was blazing a new trail in its sector. She had something new to offer, and the world was listening.
The stars were also aligned because, three years after the COVID lockdown madness, she was speaking in person at conferences, company meetings, and in clients' offices. The only thing holding her back were her platform skills as a speaker.
Are You On Fire and Lighting a Fire Under Listeners?
Understand, my executive client wasn't a bad speaker. But she wasn't setting off any alarms to match the burning-rubber performance of her company.
She was simply doing what most business speakers do: deliver information that was of value to listeners. But how much value? There's the rub, as Hamlet might say. It's one thing to share data with an audience. It's quite another to put that data into context, discuss its immediacy, point out what parts of the data are worth paying attention to—and most important, explain why any of it matters to these listeners.
That's unlocking your talents as a communicator! Find out how it's done. Download my Free ebook, 12 Easy Ways to Achieve Presence and Charisma.
I recently conducted a market study, and I discovered that 100% of statues giving public speeches leave out every one of these critical elements. Below, you'll find valuable information on how you can, er, break out of the mold and light up any plaza or park where you find yourself on a pedestal speaking.
Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
We tend to think of public speaking as something that percolates in our brain and then pours out of our mouth. And boy, do we make it look like that's what happening, with no other parts of us involved in the deal.
But your body is one of your primary tools of communication—and you need to get it into the act! Just a moment's thought will remind you that how you look and sound when you say something is a huge factor in how other people respond to you. And it goes beyond gestures (our primary concern in terms of body language).
How's your body language? Discover more about this powerful tool with my Free White Paper, The Body Language Rules: 12 Ways to Be a More Powerful Speaker.
Come to think of it, it goes beyond body language too. Nonverbal communication is really the physical expression of your message. Giving your message a physical dimension kicks it upstairs quickly, from the dry delivery of data to a person speaking dynamically, in real time, to others who share an interest in the topic. It's a form of community like nothing else. You can easily understand why the performing arts are a vibrant expression of emotions and ideas.
Three important components of physical expression are gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions. A fourth hugely important one is voice, which I'll talk about in a minute. But for now, try this as well: move to a different part of your performance space just before you start on your next MAIN POINT. The distance doesn't matter, and anyway, that depends on how much space you have to perform in. But when you break up your talk this way, you're not only more interesting to watch. You're also making it easier for listeners to reengage from one important point to the next, and be able to retain it all more readily.
Connect With People Emotionally with Your Voice
Now, let's talk about voice. It's important to understand that your voice is also part of nonverbal communication. Many people don't. There's a difference, that is, between verbal and vocal. Think of it this way: "verbal" is what you say, and "vocal" is how you say it.
Vocal production, that is, isn't about words. More than anything, it alerts audiences to how you feel about what you're saying. Just as important, it allows you to get audiences to feel the same way you do. The voice is, in fact, the best tool you have for investing your speeches with emotion. If you think that's too touchy-feely for business, remember this: every decision we make has an emotional component; and the more important the decision, the more we make it emotionally. Only afterwards do we justify it logically.
Isn't it time to start using your voice effectively? Download my Free cheat sheet, "5 Key Tools of Vocal Dynamics." Strengthen your vocal delivery to move others when you speak!
That means you should always be reaching people on an emotional plane as well as an intellectual one. And for that, your voice needs coloration, and the ability to express all the nuances and subtleties of your subject matter. You're also modeling for listeners what they should be feeling! We might almost say that the whole reason for your voice is to help elicit in listeners what you yourself are feeling. I call gaining full vocal expressiveness, vocal dynamics.
So, now you know. I tried explaining all of this to a statue one time. But I just couldn't stay serious with that stupid pigeon sitting on the statue's head and cooing at me the whole time.
You should follow me on Twitter here.
Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking and overcoming speaking fear. His company, The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching and corporate group training worldwide. In 2022 for the ninth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His handbook for presenting in videoconferences, Speaking Virtually offers strategies and tools for developing virtual presence in online meetings. His latest book is Speak for Leadership: An Executive Speech Coach's Secrets for Developing Leadership Presence. Contact Gary here.
Main photo credit: Mike B on pexels.com.