Do you know how to deliver great content effectively? Here's how to speak with clarity to get your message across.
Let's face it: we can be a nation of rattlers.
Now, I don't mean snakes. I mean those of us who give speeches, deliver presentations—even make important pitches—by "rattling off" our content.
Everyone, this isn't how to influence audiences and get them on our side. If we do it, we're losing sight of the whole reason we talk to listeners: to connect with them so they understand and accept what we're saying. That will never happen if we have a better relationship with our notes than with the people in the seats!
All of this applies just as much to virtual speaking. Learn how you and your team can speak to win remotely. Take a look at my new book: The Online Meetings Handbook.
Let's assume that the content of your talk is excellent—something your listeners really need to hear. How can you perform in a way that makes you exceptional at delivering your message? Below are two techniques to use, one mental and the other physical.
Make Sure Your Intention is the Right One
First, the mental technique to help you get through to listeners clearly. I believe that for most speakers, it involves changing one's thinking.
Go beyond mundane information delivery to be dynamic and persuasive! Download my Free resource, "How to Be a Clear, Concise, and Compelling Speaker."
When we present, we tend to obsess over content—data, if you will. It's easy to do so. This is the information we think we need to convey. And boy, do we ever find ways to convey it: spreadsheets, charts, slide decks with endless bullet points, etc., all in addition to what we actually say. This accumulated data becomes the engine of our presentation. We have one thought in mind: to get our information across in the time allotted to us.
But information isn't why you're speaking, in person or virtually. Your audience could get that in a number of ways. Your value to listeners is that you, uniquely, can interpret the information and share that interpretation, in a way your audience can understand.
That's why your intention needs to change. From delivering information, it needs to become fostering audience perception and understanding. Once you accept that aim, your relationship with listeners transforms dramatically (as well as how you use content). Let the data do its thing. Your focus needs to be on discussing it in terms of your listeners' knowledge, experience, and needs. Your content will now become much more personal and memorable to your audience.
Speaking of transforming your speeches—do you know how to achieve true presence? Learn how! Get my Free guide, "The Voice of Authority: How to Sound Like a Leader."
Can You Also Breathe for Greater Clarity? Well, Yes!
I admit that all of the above is pretty conceptual. So now let's get as practical as we can. Let's get physical—by talking about how you breathe.
Here's why it's a good idea to do so. Even if we don't have fear of public speaking, we're all at the mercy of adrenaline and other stress hormones when we face an audience. It's part of "psyching us up for the big game." (And if we do suffer from speech anxiety, our response can range from off-putting to ruinous.)
Nervousness an issue? Get my Free cheat sheet, "How to Calm Your Nerves Before Speaking." Become more relaxed and focused . . . even if you have just 5 minutes to spare!
These "flight or flight" hormones come into play to help us survive dangerous situations. But public speaking isn't actually dangerous. Our minds just trick us into believing that's true, silently shouting "Do something! Do something!" In the rush to get us out of danger, all of our physical reactions speed up. Unfortunately, that often includes our rate of speech. And too rapid speaking is a pretty poor partner of clarity and comprehension.
Conscious and controlled breathing is the antidote—and as it happens, one that works fast. Fortunately, Mother Nature has already designed a way to keep us from becoming motor-mouths when we speak. She's arranged things so we can't inhale and speak at the same time. (It's because the opening between our vocal folds, the glottis, must be open for inhalation, and closed for speaking, when the vocal membranes need to touch each other.)
Developing the habit of slower, deeper breathing, then, is one way to keep from flying through your material. Slower delivery means more time for listeners to absorb and comprehend what you're saying. Result? — Greater opportunities for clarity.
There's your two-pronged approach to becoming a speaker with greater clarity: one mental (intentionality), the other physical (conscious breathing). Combined, they'll help make you an organism primed for some great speaking!
You should follow me on Twitter here.
Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking training and overcoming speaking fear. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching and corporate group training worldwide. In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of The World's Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of 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 latest book is The Online Meetings Handbook, now available at The Genard Method and on Amazon. To know more about TGM's services, Contact Gary here.