I am wrapping up another semester teaching speech at the community college level.
I have some students who are naturally outgoing; almost natural speakers.
I have other students who are so very tentative. More than a little nervous. And so reticent. When these students speak, they speak with such low volume, that it is difficult to hear them. And they are so seldom looking at the audience members. They not only don’t make good eyeball-to-eyeball contact, they don’t even lift their faces toward the audience. It is as though they are delivering their speeches to their notes; not to the audience members.
I work on this with them. I demonstrate; I teach them; we drill. We have exercises. But, they go back to reticence so very quickly.
I see this in many other gatherings of professional adults. People introduce themselves to a group, but do so with such low volume that their names cannot be heard. Or, people “report” on group discussions, with…the same problems.
So, here are some tips. Whenever you speak in front of others, even if it is just to introduce yourself, follow these steps. Hint; you will need to practice these – a lot!!!
#1 – Almost always, stand up to speak, regardless of the circumstance. It makes it easier to hear you.
#2 – Greet your audience with your face and your eyes before you begin speaking. Invite your audience to listen to you with your face and your eyes. – AND, look at your audience, not at a screen with PowerPoint slides, or at your notes. Look up to speak up!
#3 – Belt out your words. Don’t be tentative; be confidently assertive. Here’s how loud you need to be; loud enough for the person siting farthest away from you to hear you easily. Speak loudly! (Think Ethel Merman, belting out the beginning words of There’s No Business Like Show Business).
#4 – Learn to “verbally punch” your key words. Just like you do in writing words, using bold emphasis and colorful fonts to emphasize key word and phrases, verbally bold your key words and phrases.
#5 – Begin with a beginning and end with an ending. Too many people begin and end in the middle. Start well; and finish well.
There is much more to add: gestures, all-across-the-room eyeball-to-eyeball contact. But follow these five tips, and there’s a chance you will become more effective when you speak to others; every time you speak to others.
I’ve written quite a few blog posts dealing with issues related to speaking. (Note: these are on our “archived” blog).
Read this one first:
2 Ways to Guarantee a Failed Presentation
And then, you will find a number of others to read on this page:
Here Are A Number of My Blog Posts Dealing with Speaking/Presentation and Communication Issues