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In the delivery of a speech, there are two factors at play: the intention of the speaker and the perception by the audience of the speaker’s intent. The two do not always go together – there are gaps, misinterpretations, or in the worst scenario, backlashes. Perhaps it is a commonplace to acknowledge such discrepancies. But, can we do anything to avoid them when delivering our speech?
Naturally, we take great care in crafting our speeches and presentations. We would conduct thorough analysis of the audience so that we could relate to their experiences. We would diligently gather information, and compile statistics that are particularly compelling with this audience. We would use an appropriate amount of concise and simple supporting materials that suit the occasion perfectly. Further, we would exploit the characteristics of spoken words and choose apt analogies and examples to illuminate our points. Above all, we are prepared to commit ourselves to establishing rapport with this audience, acknowledging their expertise, their values and their constraints.
These are carefully crafted intentions. Will the perception of the audience reciprocate? Well, the perception of a speech has little to do with the intentions of the speaker, no matter how carefully it has been crafted. The audience leaves with their own understanding of what you meant – which might be quite different from what you intended to say – and even different from what you actually said. The reality of a speech is not determined by the preconceived intentions of its speaker. In other words, our speeches exist as perceptions.
So, how do we achieve the perception that corresponds to our intention when delivering a speech?
Let’s introduce “the natural speaker” – a speaker who is authentic and is naturally engaged in interacting with the audience. The natural speaker is authentic because he or she is genuinely involved with the audience in its thinking process.
The natural speaker knows that the reality of a speech lies in the perception of its intent by the audience. He or she sees the process of delivering a speech as one that discovers the real meaning of the speech through the interaction between the speaker and the listeners. He or she is vigilant, highly focused, and 100 percent attentive to the audience.
The natural speaker makes a remarkable contrast to those speakers who are battling with “fear of speaking,” who are either self-absorbed or worrying about “projecting” their voices or using “appropriate” gestures. Neither does the natural speaker bear any resemblance to those old fashioned speakers who stop dead at the end of a sentence and silently count to five because they has read in a book the importance of “pausing for effect.” To the natural speaker, delivering a speech is a process that functions on a higher dimension - a dimension that is very different from the one created by the monologue of the solitary speaker who is mentally disconnected with his listeners. The natural speaker is engaged with the audience in earnest – searching the listeners’ faces, looking into their eyes, and appreciating the meaning of what is being shared. The natural speaker experiences adrenaline and excitement from the anticipation and actual involvement in this process of discovery.
So, how do we achieve the perception that corresponds to our intention when delivering a speech? Now you have the answer! You achieve this by following the example of the natural speaker.
You’ll achieve the perception that corresponds to your carefully crafted intensions by studying from moment to moment the verbal and non-verbal responses of your audience, and refining accordingly the message that you meant to convey. You’ll find that every part of your speech will be more or less effective than you imagined it was going to be. Some of your speech will be irrelevant – other parts will take on a relevance you had not even thought of. Your audience will be gratified to learn from you things that you thought were of minor importance. They will be moved and touched by stories that you thought were only mildly interesting. And, as you may know, they will be annoyed and maybe even offended by some things that you believed would be comfortably accepted. This, in fact, is the essence of communication.
During this process, in which you as the speaker and your listeners are fully engaged, you’ll discover the real meaning of the speech that is being delivered and heard. Through the course, the speech itself evolves, thriving on the feedback of the audience. And in the end, you will find that, to your delight, intention and perception do reciprocate.
For more training on developing a Commanding Presence and becoming a Natural Speaker, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our Commanding Presence Advanced Communication and Presentation Skills Two-Day workshops.
The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.
Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.
Learn more about our in-person training here
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“Stand up straight!”, “Shoulders back, stomach in!”, “Use power words!”, “Let your eyes go diagonally across the audience in both directions!” We have all heard or read these instructions on how to be a more effective speaker over and over again. Many of us have made lists of the things not to do as well; “Don’t say um!” “Don’t put your hands in your pocket or behind your back!” - and then there are the things we have to remember. “Remember to take a sip of water!” “Remember not to end statements with a rising inflection!” - and so on.
Much of this would be very useful advice if not for the fact that it does nothing to help the speaker’s state of mind. For a large number of people, public speaking is a very frightening thing. Being overwhelmed by fear, it is difficult for them to attend tips about appearance, manner, or performance trivia. These tips help little other than adding an extra layer of complexity for the speaker to deal with in an already nerve-racking process.
Some pundits may preach that nervousness is to be expected in public speaking as it is not a “natural” activity. There are many techniques, they say, to learn and obstacles to deal with. One just has to embrace the challenges. Alas, this is not very comforting, is it?
Many of my clients - professional trainers, university lecturers, seminar leaders and keynote speakers tell me the same thing again and again: “I never imagined that I could speak professionally using my own voice!” With the best intentions in the world, most of us start out believing that there is a formal or “appropriate” way of speaking in public. Subsequently, we unconsciously or even deliberately use a voice in public that is totally different from how we sound in private. This kind of departure from our natural voice adds enormous stress to the so-called “professional” speaking. Public speaking, in the most strenuous form of “professionalism” inspires only fear in people who adhere to such an unnatural approach.
The truth is that most professionals already have a highly sophisticated level of communication skills which they use in their social and family lives, complete with highly sensitive listening skills, ingenuous technique for establishing rapport and making their listeners comfortable. And the best news of all is that most people I know are capable of describing their thoughts, feelings and emotions in a wonderful range of vocal qualities using an almost infinite variety of pitch, volume and pace to convey subtle shades of meaning.
My point is this; if we already have these complex skills and if we are using an entirely different method of communication in our personal lives, why trouble with the so called “professional public speaking style” in which we have little, if any, experience relative to our other natural communications.
The good news is that things do not have to be as frightening or complicated as they appear to be. Public speaking can be similar to the kind of everyday conversations that we have with our families and friends. With this realization, the speaker’s state of mind can change from that of fear to confidence. Over the past fifteen years, I have found that people respond positively to this idea. And with a bit of practice, many have experienced a quantum leap forward in their public speech delivery.
Following are some practical tips to regain natural voice in public speaking:
Practice
Practice all of your speaking - whether it is a keynote speech, seminar or training that you are delivering - in a normal conversational tone, at the level that it would require to communicate to somebody sitting across the kitchen table. By taking the emphasis away from speaking “appropriately,” you will automatically engage all of the subtle and complex ways in which you normally convey your thoughts to the people that you care about.
Read the Audience
Also, you will find that, because you are completely relaxed, you will be able to “read” the person to whom you are speaking much more easily. Then notice that looking down at your notes - or taking a moment to gather your thoughts - is an entirely stress-free activity. Am I suggesting that this simple exercise will improve your public speaking? Am I suggesting that this amazingly low level of activity, which feels almost effortless, can possibly help with the highly sophisticated, macho business of power presenting? You betcha!
Focus on Your Audience
Human beings, if deprived of oxygen for less than five minutes, will die. It is the substance most essential for our survival from moment to moment. There is another substance without which human beings cannot live - it is a most precious commodity. Without it children cannot be happy, they cannot learn, they cannot grow - and in the last years of our lives, no matter how successful we have been, most of us would give everything we have ever acquired if someone would just provide us with a small supply of this. This substance which we all need is, of course, attention. It is in our power to give attention to everyone in our lives - and generally human beings are very generous in this, with one notable exception.
Many public speakers are miserly when it comes to giving attention to their audiences. They study their audiences - about their likes and dislikes, their products, needs and requirements. But for some inexplicable reason, as soon as a speaker is introduced, he or she is quite prepared to ignore the audience.
All you need to do is to do the opposite. Put aside your self-consciousness, direct instead your attention to your audience, and adjust your delivery according to your reading of the audience’s feedbacks. To the human beings, there is nothing more compelling than a fresh thought or idea honestly expressed, and nothing more exhilarating than listening to a speaker who reads our response and satisfying our concerns from moment to moment.
Your success as a public speaker is inevitable, because you already know how to be a better public speaker!
These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our
The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.
Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.
Upcoming Two-Day Workshop Dates in Toronto
June 25-26, 2018
Register Now. Small Group Workshops Limited to 10 Places
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Personal communication skills and confidence go hand in hand for almost all professionals. Your academic education, your professional training, combined with your intelligence and positive attitudes, have made you a highly competent professional. Yet, only when you are able to communicate, especially verbally, and with confidence, your strengths can be manifested and appreciated. This is what we mean by personal communication skills. If you aspire to any type of management, mentoring or leadership role in your work, no matter what your area of expertise, your personal communication skills will determine how far you are able to go.
This article is written to address the challenges that face many professionals, whose reading and writing skills exceed their listening and speaking skills, who experience fear of speaking, and who strive to achieve a high level of confidence in their personal communication.
Listening and speaking skills not on a par with reading and writing skills
In the traditional professions -- particularly law and accounting, there is a considerable gap between writing skills and speaking skills.
This gap can be explained in terms of the academic requirements and training in these professions
In the first place, those professions attract people who are intellectually curious and who have an affinity for rigorous academic and professional training. Most, but obviously not all, lawyers and accountants prefer to reflect on important issues and write and read about them -- as a way of energizing themselves. Between academic and professional training, most lawyers and accountants engage in work activities in solitude. Furthermore, 90% of their studies and training are completed through the mode of reading and writing.
The corporate culture also plays a role in this disparity between writing and verbal skills
Lawyers and accountants typically spend a large percentage of their time speaking to their colleagues who are in tune with their own style and jargons, their tendency to use somewhat formal, written language is often entrenched.
There is less demand on a day-to-day basis for lawyers and accountants to "think on their feet". Most of our clients tell us that they do 90% of their communication at a keyboard. Most lawyers value their early morning, evening, and weekend opportunities to keep up with their work -- and so the habit of communicating in solitude and by writing is even more intensified.
Dire Consequences
The lack of Personal performance skills becomes an obstacle to further career advancement.
In the corporate boardrooms, where personal communication skills are in high demand, there are a higher percentage of extroverted professionals, many of whom have risen through the ranks because they are particularly good at verbal communication. In situations like this, traditional professionals feel that they are at a disadvantage. Their interest is not so much in becoming a “star.” But they feel that the level of their speaking skills does not accurately reflect their professional competence.
Failure in bringing in business
Many young lawyers are shocked to discover that professional competence is only the beginning. The ability to bring in new business is often the determining factor in a lawyer's success. Most lawyers' personality types are at odds with the idea of gregariously "selling" oneself. Socializing with clients and potential clients is often out of their comfort zones. It is not surprising that the legal profession is not noted for its sales and marketing abilities.
Marketing is one of the greatest challenges to a law firm. There is generally not much instinct for self-promotion – and marketing is seldom given the priority it deserves. Ask the marketing manager of almost any law firm in North America -- and they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, how difficult it is to get lawyers involved in the marketing and sales process.
Good verbal communication is marketing. Arguments, proposals, ideas and advice all need to be “sold.” Sooner or later the potential buyer is going to want a “live” meeting. If the verbal communication doesn’t match the written material, the “deal” may be off! Indeed, without a high level of communication skills, a law firm simply cannot sell itself.
The good news is that by simply developing personal communication skills, you can achieve your sales and marketing goals.
My Approach and the Commanding Presence Programs
Over 80% of our clients are subject experts and highly skilled in communicating through reading and writing. Our work is simply to facilitate the natural blossoming of these talents into live, in-the-moment, self-expressions. This may seem counter-intuitive -- but for 25 years now we have been helping professionals to make the transition to highly effective speaking on a regular and consistent basis. When intelligent subject experts focus their attention on their speaking ability, they are able to combine their intellectual curiosity, discipline and their passion for the subject into an extraordinarily high level of personal communication skills. Once the initial transition is made, the growth is exponential.
The Commanding Presence Programs have been designed to implement this fundamental approach, along with a set of systematically developed techniques to address the various impediments in the development of personal communication skills.
Obstacles in Developing Communication Skills
The benefits of having a high level of personal communication skills and the dire consequences of not possessing those skills should make professionals wildly enthusiastic about developing those skills. However, many professionals have not yet been able to overcome certain obstacles to achieving their goal pf becoming a master speaker.
Over the past 25 years of working with lawyers, accounts, and professionals in various organizations, we have found that the following are the most common issues that frustrate them whenever public speaking is involved:
1. Fear of Speaking
2. Not sounding credible
3. Not being able to think "in-the-moment"
4. "Blanking"
In part two of the article, I will deal with each of these issues -- and I hope to prove that every one of them can be relieved or eliminated very quickly.
These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our
The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.
Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.
Upcoming Two-Day Workshop Dates in Toronto
Register Now. Small Group Workshops Limited to 10 Places
Read Full Article
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Commanding Presence | Communication and .. by The Late John Plank, Founder Of Com.. - 9M ago
Are you unconsciously casting yourself in a disadvantaged role?
I’m intrigued by this phenomenon; if it doesn’t apply to you, you almost certainly know someone who could benefit from the insight.
Are you the Younger Sister?
In two decades of personal communications and executive coaching, I've noticed that many of my clients assume a specific kind of "family" relationship with individuals in their business communications. The most common example is the young female professional who unconsciously casts herself in the role of either "younger sister" or "daughter" when interacting with more senior executives or partners. Consequently, the senior person receives the impression of a less mature and less confident person.
Or the Younger Brother?
Males do it too; one of my clients is a highly successful fundraiser for a large U.S. university. He is required to raise $4-6 million a year for the University, and is continuously speaking and presenting to potential donors and philanthropists. He's one of the finest speakers I've ever worked with; charismatic, strikingly good-looking, and a natural raconteur.
Two years ago I noticed a slight" tone" in his way of speaking, particularly to older people. I suggested that in his next presentation he try to speak to his audience as if he were their older brother, or even their father. We videotaped the presentation -- and although the content was identical to the previous one, his confidence, warmth and his authority were all remarkably stronger. I still replay that tape from time to time; it was one of the most dramatic improvements I have ever experienced.
Time to step up
As we mature and change, we don't necessarily feel any different about ourselves. Most of my clients underestimate the level of respect that people are willing to give them. People are ready to accept us, based on how we present ourselves - if you are unconsciously communicating in a way that is younger or more deferential than your actual age and experience warrants, you will probably not get the respect you deserve. I suggest that you start to pay attention to how you speak in the key relationships in your work. To inspire confidence and gain the trust of others, we need to show up fully and unapologetically as confident and experienced as we actually are. Try some experimenting; try speaking to some people "as if" you were their affectionate older sister or brother. You may be very pleasantly surprised.
These are just a few quick tips on developing a Commanding Presence. For more training on developing a Commanding Presence, managing anxiety, and increasing your speaking skills to the same high level as your writing skills then you should attend one of our Commanding Presence Advanced Communication and Presentation Skills Two-Day workshops.
The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.
Participants are recorded 4 times with feedback from the other participants and personal coaching from the workshop coach. Each receive a USB of their video clips along with a letter of analysis from the workshop coach.
The workshop is designed to improve every aspect of personal communication skills, from strategy and text preparation to establishing rapport and overcoming speaking anxiety.
Upcoming Two-Day Commanding Presence Advanced Communications and Presentation Skills Workshop dates in Toronto
. Small Group Workshops Limited to 10 Places
Two-Day Workshop Brochure with Agenda & Outline
Contact us for more dates or to join our wait list
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