8 Things You Should be Doing When Delivering a Speech

BY DR. HUME JOHNSON

redman, speakingTo deliver a speech well, there are a few essential things that you must ne doing. Simply having a great written speech is not enough. It’s your delivery which will make it resonate with the audience. Last week, the students in my  Speech class were practicing at the podium for a formal speech assessment. We used the opportunity to make note of the crucial elements of good speech delivery. As you prepare to deliver your next speech, be sure to illustrate and exhibit these eight ingredients in order to capture your audience, hold their attention and for your delivery to be on point!

1. Sound Conversational

In order to be believable and to win the attention of your audience, it is important to speak in a conversational style. To sound conversational, pretend as if you are delivering your speech to only one person such as your grandmother or a respected friend. Instead of reading to your audience word for word what’s on your script, try to simply talk to them. Connect with them in the same way you would telling a story about an event in your day to a close friend.

2. Project Your Voice

You must attempt to project your voice and sustain this projection throughout your presentation. Some people have a naturally soft voice. Others have been conditioned to speak in very low tones. However, persons at the back of the room should still be able to hear you even without a microphone. Projecting your voice is not the same as shouting. The voice is produced by the control of breath from the diaphragm. This breath allows the voice volume and the ability to carry in a large room. Resist the temptation to sink into a low tone. Projecting your voice gives force to your speech, shows your personality and makes you appear more confident.

3. Make Eye Contact

It is incredibly important to connect with the people who are talking to. The most effective way is at first to make eye contact with them. Do not stare at one person, but make your eyes wander around the room as you speak. A good technique which I have used is to focus my eyes on the left of the room (left focus), then right of the room (right focus) and then to the middle of the room (centre focus). My most important points and the beginning and end of my speech are usually centre focus.  Eye contact says you are confident, you know what you are talking about, you are aiming to connect and engage with audience.

4. Pace Yourself

Some folks speak way too fast. Others speak in a slow pedantic fashion which is likely to bore their audience. Pace yourself. This means try not to speak too fast or too slow. For naturally fast speakers, slow down and ensure that the audience hears and understand what you saying. For slower speakers, my advice is to pick up the pace a bit. Show your personality; be animated and the audience will become engaged with you as well.public-speaking

5. Gesticulate

It is important to use your hands, in the same way you would when having a normal conversation. With a podium, some people simply hang on to it and forget to use their hands. To gesticulate offers naturalness; it makes you seem more comfortable and you will appear more confident to your audience. Resist the urge to hug the podium. Let go.

6. Have Good Posture

Posture and body language are essential to good speech delivery. Stand straight, imagine that each vertebrae in your spine sitting on top of each other and your head on top of the last vertebrae. Try not to slouch, or to dance. This will be distracting to your audience. Aim for an erect, confident posture.

7. Be Confident

Confidence is the core element of effective speech delivery. Watch some speech samples on Youtube and pay attention to what great speakers have in common. They are usually confident and engaging. If you are not naturally confident, pretend that you are. Fake it til you make it. The more you project, exhibit a confident air, the more it will become like second nature to you. Go ahead, try it, and tell me the results.

8. Speak Passionately

Finally, invest your speech with passion. Be excited about your topic; show your enthusiasm, Do not be afraid to laugh, smile, become animated while delivering your speech. Be yourself. I promise the audience will connect more with you than if you stand there stiff reading from a script. They have come to hear you and to engage with the person you are. Show them.

These are the top 8 things that I believe you should be doing if you wish to make an excellent and engaging delivery. Good luck. Put them into practice and let us know how you go!

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Listen Up! Without this Skill, Communication can be painful

BY HUME JOHNSON, PhD

How many times has someone been talking to you and you zoned out, or you are merely waiting for your turn to speak. You are completely clueless about what is being said. You just know you don’t necessarily agree and you cant wait to insert your own perspective. I have been trying to listen more these days, not just to hear what the other person is saying but to understand. Hearing is not the same as listening.

WHAT IS LISTENING?

Listening means paying close attention to, and making sense of what we hear. Research shows that 60 % of the errors made in business come from poor listening. Most of your time at work is spent listening to colleagues, clients and supervisors. At college. students spend long hours listening to lectures and discussions. Indeed, studies show a strong correlation between listening and academic success. Students with the highest grades are usually those with the strongest listening skills.The reverse is also true, those students with the lowest grades are the ones with weak listening skills. Same applies to work and personal situations. Better listeners tend to foster better relationships, generate greater respect, grasp ideas better and a generally more effective professionals.

 To become a great communicator, listening is an essential skill. Most of our ideas tend to come from television, radio, conversations, lectures. If you do not listen well, you will not understand what you hear and may pass along your misunderstanding to others.  In his book, The Art of Public Speaking, Stephen Lucas talks about four different types of listening:

 TYPES OF LISTENING

  • Appreciative Listening – Listening for pleasure or enjoyment comedy routine or entertaining speech.
  • Empathetic Listening – Listening to provide emotional support for a speaker. EG: psychiatrists listening to patients
  • Comprehensive Listening – Listening to understand the message of a speaker – classroom lecture; listening for directions
  • Critical Listening – Listening to evaluate a message for the purposes of accepting or rejecting it. (Sales pitch; campaign speech). Critical thinking involves a number of skills: summarizing information, Recalling facts, Distinguishing main points from minor points, Separating fact from opinion, Spotting weaknesses in reasoning and judging the soundness of evidence.

To listen wee, you have to use your mind, as well as your ears, and at times, even your heart.When your mind is not actively involved – when you are not actively paying attention to a speaker’s words, you are hearing but you are not listening. Think of speakers to whom you nearly always pay attention to? Why are these speakers easier to listen to than others? What do you think are the causes of poor listening? It can be not concentrating, listening too hard (yes there is such a think as listening too keenly); jumping to conclusions, and focusing on delivery and personal appearance.

 FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO BECOME A BETTER LISTENER

  • Take listening seriously – give it the seriousness it deserves
  • Be an active listener – give the person undivided attention
  • Resist distractions – Do not stare at everything around you or at your phone. Make eye contact and nod to illustrate that you are indeed listening
  • Don’t be diverted by the person’s appearance or delivery. Give them the respect of hearing their perspective even if you disagree.
  • Suspend judgment – Though it may be tempting to immediately express disagreement, suspend your judgment and hear the person out.
  • Focus your Listening – listen for main points, evidence and techniques
  • Develop note-taking skills – If its a workshop, lecture or professional talk, jot down notes, keywords and phrases so as to be able to converse about the topic later.

Challenge yourself this week to become an active listener. Let us know how you go!

Happy listening!