The institute of public speaking is a Boston based international public speaking training organization. We live and breath educating others on the skills of public speaking, leadership and communication.
Web conferencing or webinars are virtual conferences made possible through Internet technologies. They are used for meetings, training events and presentations. Webinars require careful planning and effort, but it’s not rocket science to deliver successful ones. Herein we’ll explore a few efforts that will prime you for successful webinars.
Much like a meeting requires a reminder email with details and action items, so too a webinar. Attendees should have an agenda and details of the webinar you plan to deliver. Additionally, you should create a landing page for the event itself which has all the information on the date, time and requirements of software/hardware.
Know the Audience
Knowing your audience is critical in crafting successful & compelling webinar content. Any successful speech, presentation or communication is made more powerful when one understands one’s audience. We can gain this understanding a variety of ways such as online research, connecting with decision makers, audience member or experts. Whatever way we gain this understanding it will inform and focus our message and its delivery will be more well received.
Content is Key
Your content should be tightly focused on your core webinar objectives. As time is limited, we should be razor focused on our key objective or takeaway. There should be nothing superfluous or non-essential in our content. Additionally, our content should give space and time for the questions and attendee interaction we want to encourage.
Visuals often communicate more effectively than any other form. When we communicate our essential goal is that our listener or audience retain our message above all else. Visuals in the form of graphs, maps, tables, photographs, drawing or diagrams quickly convey a memorable message to our audience. Whenever possible we should use visuals to powerfully convey our message to our audience.
Mind Your Time
Time management is of the essence in a webinar setting. Much like a meeting or public speaking scenario we have a scheduled period of finite time for the webinar. Only practicing our webinar while being mindful of our timing will enable us to be on target when it comes to our timely webinar delivery.
Practicing your webinar will help your performance just as it does in public speaking. Practice also allows you to be more familiar with the content and technology required of your webinar. During your practice run is a perfect time to ask for a friend coworker or presentation coach to review your delivery and content. These feedback and insights will be critical to your future success. A proper practice run will provide you with more confidence in your final delivery.
Mind Your Tech
Technology aids in the delivery of your webinar so it is best you make sure everything is working prior to your live delivery. Prior to your delivery you should:
Know the webinar tools & features – Webinar tools allow a staggering array of features which are helpful to the presenter — but only if you have mastered them. Spend time learning them and you’ll be glad you did.
Check Your Equipment
The more tech you use the more opportunities there are for technical issues. A webinar involves a wide array of technology you must validate is in a working state prior to your delivery. At the very least, you should validate your Internet connection, your computer, microphone, phone, etc. You should have some form of backup if need be so you can continue should there be technical issues.
Enliven Your Voice
Most webinars don’t show the presenter but instead only deliver audio to your audience. Unlike a variety of in person communication scenarios (speeches and presentation) where we have the ability to show non-verbal body language along with our verbal content. Without the powerful aspect of body language, we have to put increased focus on our vocal delivery. It must be that we use the power of our voice and deliver with vocal vigor to engage our audience.
Engaging your audience is critical to a successful webinar. Just like a speech or presentation in person your audience requires interaction in order to achieve active engagement with your message. You should use questions to interact with the audience and connect them to your message. Most webinar software also offers an ability to offer surveys and questionnaires, a feature that can be helpful in engaging an audience.
Call To Action
All presentations should have some form of call to action. A call to action is a takeaway, message or idea you’d like your audience to walk away with. This call to action is not only the fundamental message but it also incites the audience to take some action as a result of this message. This can be that they buy, learn, connect more deeply with your brand, etc. If we don’t make this call to action clear, we leave our audience with confusion over our message and intent. Our CTA (Call to Action) should be absolutely clear, memorable and compelling.
Your webinar may finish without a hitch and be an outstanding success but your work is not done. A webinar isn’t a one-off communication but it should be an effort to expand the relationship you have with your customers or constituency. Your follow up will cement your webinar efforts and make them all the more successful.
What is your experience with webinars? Please do leave your comments and questions below, we love to share our expertise. If you enjoyed this post please feel free to join our newsletter for more tips like this in your inbox. Until next time, here’s to successful webinars.
Almost any field has its myth’s that persist despite the efforts to dispel them. Public speaking is no exception to this rule. As a learning path, public speaking is riddled with myths that hurt beginning speakers. Herein we’ll explore some of the myths that persist today & cast them aside.
Perfection is a myth only perpetuated by those who those out of touch with reality. In actuality it is a dangerously deluded belief system that keeps many from ever trying. Embarking on any learning path requires acceptance of ‘failure’ and challenges as a part of that process. There is no perfection, so let’s drop this speaking myth. Instead, prepare, practice and focus on delivering the best speech you possibly can.
Have a Drink
Many a novice speaker has told me that they were advised to have a drink or two before a speech to ‘loosen up.’ Alcohol, like any other intoxicant, is far from a performance booster. While it may artificially make you feel ‘relaxed’ it will harm your performance and make you less able to perform your best. Public speaking and alcohol don’t mix under any circumstances. Instead, simply skip the drinking till after your speech and you and your audience will be glad you did.
Technology is Required
Technology always is a double edge sword. It can both help us and harm us and this definitely holds true in public speaking. Some fledgling speakers assume they must have perfect Microsoft PowerPoint or Prezi slides for their speech or presentation to be successful. Technology can certainly be helpful but it isn’t and shouldn’t be the highlight of your speech. Instead, your message should be the critical focus and technology plays only a supporting role.
Only the Fearless Succeed
Having a fear or anxiety of speaking isn’t an abnormal or uncommon experience. The vast majority of our 10’s of thousands of students report experiencing glossophobia or the fear of public speaking. Having a fear or anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t succeed as a speaker, it just means you are human and experience emotions. Instead practice mindfulness, deep diaphragmatic breathing and develop relaxation habits to get you in the right state of mind to perform at your best.
Audience Size/Type Matters
Far too many students report that a certain size or type of audience makes or breaks their performance. Whether it is a large audience of 10,000 or a small group of C-level executives, you need to perform at your best as a speaker – no matter what. Instead you need to understanding fundamentally why you are challenged by a particular type of audience or size is key to developing the skills to overcome this irrational fear.
Audiences Wish for Your Failure
The myth is that audience are hoping we fail is far from accurate. Audience (at least the normal ones) generally hope for our success as speakers. Most audiences are secretly rooting for you to do well and understand that speaking is a challenging endeavor. Are there people who will be jerks? Oh, yeah! The best path with negative people is to smile and be thankful you are not them. Instead, you should realize that generally your audience is rooting for you to deliver a successful speech.
Memorization is the Answer
Many early speakers assume they must memorize their speeches word-for-word. Memorization is not a requirement for a successful speech and quite often it can harm performance and delivery more than help it. Often new speakers will deliver a lifeless speech as they struggle to remember their delivery from memory. Their delivery is choppy, unnatural, and quite lifeless. Instead, master your content and if required memorize the critical parts of your speech practicing them till you can deliver them from memory with vigor, energy and enthusiasm.
Over practicing Makes Perfect
The hackneyed ‘practice makes perfect’ saying can sometimes be very bad advice. Sure, proper practice is critical to effective speaking but over practicing can pull all the life out of speech. There is a balance between over practiced monotone (robotic) delivery and inspired enthusiastic delivery. Instead know your content but deliver it with vigor and excitement, not a robotic over hackneyed droning. Getting to this point of balance comes with the help of an speech coach.
Imaging Them in Their Underpants
This is horrible advice has no basis in reality. Without question, this is the worst advice I’ve ever heard as it relates to speaking. Sexualizing an audience isn’t an answer to dealing with the fear or anxiety of speaking and its one of the worst persistent myths relating to public speaking. Instead, prepare, practice and focus on delivering the best speech you possibly can. If you are to imaging anything, try positive creative visualization.
Natural Born Speakers
Some erroneously believe that speakers are born rather than made. Public speaking, like leadership is a learned skill that has nothing to do with your genetics. These are skills you practice and acquire over time, not ones your born with. This myth discourages budding speakers from rising to the occasion and becoming the best communicator they can be. Instead don’t buy into the myth of the natural born speaker and realize you can grow and learn to master this skill like any other.
Great Speeches Only Require XYZ
Many self-proclaimed public speaking experts claim a certain single aspect of speaking is all you need to be successful. They claim if you just have the right content, the optimal slide composition or deliver with maximum vocal vigor – you’ll succeed. Fact is, it isn’t a single attribute that will make you successful as a speaker but many. Acknowledge that you shouldn’t ‘cherry pick’ a single speech attribute and assume it means success. Instead, realize it is speech writing, practice, positive habits, and many other aspects that mean a great speech performance.
Eliminate All Filler Words
Filler words are those words (um, ah, like, so, you know, etc.) without meaning that litter the delivery of beginning public speakers. If you are in the habit of overusing them, they can get in the way of the effective delivery of your message. If they are sparingly used it isn’t a huge deal. Instead, you should endeavor to minimize them. Perfection isn’t a legitimate objective but a sinkhole that leads nowhere.
Introverts Aren’t Good Speaker
Personality type shouldn’t ever place us in a limiting box. So many students assume that if they are introverted, they couldn’t possibly be successful speakers. Both introvert and extroverts can be brilliant speakers, the personality you have does not matter. Instead, realize that either can become great speakers with proper coaching & learning the fundamental skills.
Avoid Eye Contact
Over the years I’ve heard a variety of dangerous myths on eye contact like: focus on a single person in the crowd, or focus on the audience’s foreheads or stare at the back of the room. All of these are horrible ideas because we fail to create a connection with the audience or make them completely uncomfortable. Instead, remember that eye contact should be maintained with the audience to build a relationship/rapport with them and this is critical to your speaking/leadership success. Eye contact is a powerful tool in the speakers/leaders body language skillset.
Don’t Talk with Your Hands
Body language is an oft ignored critical part of successful communication for speakers and leaders. Many novice speakers have heard public speaking coaches tell them to not talk with their hands. This advice is extremely off base and incorrect. Our nonverbal ‘vocabulary’ is as important as the words we say and all other aspects of speaking. Instead, when speaking we should use normal, natural body language we do as communicators. Body language is an absolute fundamental of successful communication in speakers and leaders.
Lecterns are Required
A lectern is slanted top desk that exists in many speaking scenarios. These wooden standing desks are great for holding books, notes or laptops and little else. Many organizations consistently use them requiring speakers stand lifelessly behind them or grip them for dear life. The problem with lecterns is that it is often used a psychological shield between you and the audience. Lecterns shouldn’t be an excuse to not use effective body language, use movement or otherwise impede you speaking performance. Instead, you should realize that movement can be a powerful tool in your toolbox as a speaker.
Many beginning public speakers tell me they were taught by (well-meaning but misinformed) speaking coaches to stay in a single place and not move much while speaking. This is horrible advice in some cases as your speech may benefit from purposeful movement during your presentation. Instead we should realize that our purposeful movement can aid our delivery and reception of our message.
Attire is Irrelevant
Some believe attire does matter for speakers. They assume they can wear whatever they want — no matter the audience. The general rule is that your attire should match within the constraints of the generally accepted requirements of the culture where you present. I.e. if you present at a small startup, less formal attire may be acceptable but at a large financial institution you may want more formal attire. Instead, the rule of thumb is simple, just match the attire of the organization in question in business attire.
Expert Speakers Have No Anxiety
Despite this persistent speaking myth, even expert speakers get ‘butterflies in their stomachs.’ Ask even the most seasoned of speakers and they’ll tell you they experience some level of anxiety speaking. Human emotions are natural and should be embraced and understood rather than dismissed. Instead, the seasoned speaker has learned to manage his/her feelings and get his butterflies to fly in unison.
Unfortunately, this list is only a short list of the myths that persist in public speaking. Hopefully it is food for thought and helps you reimagine your capacity and potential as a successful speaker. Should you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. If you like this post consider joining our monthly newsletter for more insights like these.
Beginning speakers & leaders often make vocal mistakes that effect their communications outcomes. Herein we’ll explore a few of the most common vocal mishaps novice speakers make and how to avoid them. Like most other skills, our habits often drive our outcomes. Often beginning speakers & leaders have vocal habits that hinder the successful reception of their message. Identifying and addressing these can be critical to improving your communications as speaker or leader. Let’s explore how you can orchestrate your voice for successful communication.
Assess Your Vocal Baseline
Before you begin the journey of improving your vocal performance you need a baseline of your current vocal skills. A simple way to accomplish this is to video (record) yourself with your smartphone, tablet or other computing device. Once you are done recording yourself a few times, go back and review your performance. As you review the recording(s), you should close your eyes and focus in on your vocal delivery. While listening take notes and review every last detail of your vocal delivery. A few things to look for are:
Pitch Volume and Pace– Pitch is the highness or lowness of your voice, volume is the softness or loudness of our voice or its intensity. The pace of our voice is the rate of speed with which we deliver the content. The pitch, volume and pace add value to the content we deliver alongside the words themselves – they imbue a whole deeper meaning. Ask yourself is my pitch, volume and pace appropriate for this content? What would be most optimal for your speech, presentation, communication? What do you think you need to change to be more effective?
Vocal Energy – Assess the vocal vigor you bring to your delivery. On a scale of 1-10 where would you say your performance is? As we said in our previous article, assume a 1-10 energy scale and we usually deliver at an energy level of 3 we should kick it up to a 5 or 6. We simply need to add more energy than we might normally connect and captivate our audience. Your audience should be able to hear and feel your vocal energy in your delivery.
Vocal Habits – In assessing your vocal practice performance, do you have any habits that might effect your communications reception? For example, do you use a lot of filler words, breath shallow breaths or engage in upspeak? Listening to your performance you’ll start to notice some areas you’ll need to improve upon. Track these in future recorded practice sessions to get an idea of the areas you’ll need to focus in on to improve your communication outcomes. Don’t beat yourself up about the challenges you face, simply learn from them and move forward.
Character of Your Delivery
The characteristics of voice speak volumes on our internal belief systems we hold and even our current emotional state. Beginning speakers or leaders often harbor a sense of self doubt and it manifests in less than optimal vocal delivery. Do you generally feel confident while speaking or do you feel anxious? Speaking nerves are natural but sometime are based in deeply held unconscious beliefs of inadequacy known as the ‘imposter syndrome.’ Even experts fall prey to what is known as the ‘imposter syndrome’ where they feel inadequate despite all external evidence which proves otherwise. Unfortunately, statistically more than 70% of the population has experience this feeling at one time or another. Practice habits that make you aware of these emotional states like: relaxation techniques, deep diaphragmatic breathing and even meditation. Confront those challenges and understand that you are capable just as you are. With a bit of targeted practice you’ll overcome these hurdles.
Assess How You Feel
Our state of mind has an impact on our communications capacities. When we are in a calm, confident and focused state of mind our delivery is optimal. When we feel anxious or afraid we fall prey to many of the vocal issues we have outlined here such as rapid delivery, abundance of filler words and poor breathing. As you listen to and watch your recorded speech, honestly assess your own emotional state during delivery. Could you hear your shallow breath due to nervousness, was your pace excessive because you felt anxious about your delivery? If so, practice one of the many techniques such as deep breathing and relaxation techniques prior to delivery.
Confronting Your Vocal Barriers
Negative vocal habits are vocal barriers to communications success. We accumulate them over time, through experience, until they define our behavior. One student came to us who spoke in a very diminutive and self-deprecating way – without realizing it. We helped him develop a sense of awareness of his challenges and add speak with more confidence, zeal and vigor. His performances now shine with a presence, poise and charisma all his own. He turned his vocal barriers into learning opportunities. He reshaped & changed them to empower his communication success as a speaker and a leader.
Get Vocal Coaching
Sometimes we are blind to our own challenges an experts insight can be just what we need improve.
An expert coach will give you unbiased insights that will legitimately help improve your vocal delivery. At the Institute of Public Speaking our expert coaches are happy to help you overcome those vocal barriers that are impeding your success. Contact us and we’ll help you orchestrate your voice for success!
In this the 2nd part of a series (See Voice Tips for Speakers & Leaders Part I), we have explored some of the tips to help you improve your voice and vocal delivery as a speaker and leader. Let us know any questions you might have in the comments below or drop us a message. We are here to help drive your public speaking and leadership success. If you found this post useful, feel free to join our monthly newsletter for tips like this in your inbox.
Beginning speakers often make mistakes and its no fault of their own. Mistakes are a part of the learning process and furthermore most people are simply unaware they are even making these vocal mistakes. Herein we’ll explore a few of the most common vocal mishaps novice speakers make and how to avoid them. Like most other skills, our habits often drive our outcomes. Often beginning speakers have vocal habits that hinder the successful reception of their message. Identifying these and addressing these can be critical to being a successful speaker or leader.
Many novice speakers will be anxious or nervous while speaking and it manifests in the voice. Beginning speaker will often speak much more quickly and therefore are less effective at communicating their message. Audiences quickly hear the nervousness in rapid fire vocal delivery and often are less attentive to such message. As a general recommendation, most speakers should learn to relax as our psychological state is imbued in the voice. Slowing our delivery to the point where we can be understood by all is a critical importance. Remember, if we aren’t auctioneers there’s no need to rush.
Even been to a speech where the speaker has a habit of delivering in the same pace, vocal variety or rhythm? Did it engage you as a member of the audience or put your to sleep? Most likely the latter.
Don’t be predictable in your vocal patterns or you’ll give your audience an excuse to mentally check out, update social media or surf the net rather than connect with your message. Vocal dynamics help keep an audience interested in what you are saying as much as your content or body language do. Amplify your vocal dynamics and it will improve the reception of your message.
The breath is what gives life and power to the voice. Proper breath should be thought of as the basis for powerful vocal delivery. Problem is, most novice speakers, when under the weight fear or anxiety of speaking in public don’t breath in ways that are conducive of effective delivery. Glossophobia or fear of public speaking puts people in a state in which their breath is quick and shallow. This is a bit like trying to run a marathon while holding your breath, it won’t end well. Instead our breath should be deep diaphragmatic breathing to bring power behind the vocal delivery. This deep diaphragmatic breathing is the basis for powerful vocal delivery – use it.
Bring Vocal Energy
If we want an audience to be moved by our message does it help if we deliver it without any energy? Definitely not. Of the 1000’s of students we have trained I’ve seen new students give speeches where they spoke to a subject they claimed they were excited about but delivered it as lifeless, passionless as possible. The energy level we bring to vocal delivery is a key component of a successful speech, presentation or meeting. If we look at our vocal delivery we need to bring it up a notch from what we might normally deliver. If we assume a 1-10 energy scale and we usually deliver at an energy level of 3 we should kick it up to a 5 or 6. We simply need to add more energy than we might normally connect and captivate our audience.
Care for Your Voice
The voice requires special care if we want to be able to perform optimal in speaking or leadership situations. There are many things we should minimize to keep our voice in tip top shape as presenters and leaders and a few are:
Smoking – If you are a smoker that is O.K. – simply try to not overdue it and smoke excessively before an important speech as it may harms or cause strain on your vocal chords.
Caffeine/Alcohol – It goes without saying that too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. We recommend you stay away from both caffeine and alcohol before important speeches as it hastens dehydration and it can have a marked effect on your vocal performance.
Dairy products – Sure dairy is delicious but we shouldn’t overdo it. Dairy increase mucus production and can effect vocal quality and thus our delivery.
Over use – The day before (or of a speech) don’t over use your voice or it will impact your capacity to delivery. Over using your voice can have a harmful effect on your speech outcomes.
In this the first part of a series, we have explored some of the tips to help you improve your voice as a speaker and leader. Let us know any questions you might have in the comments below or drop us a message. We are here to help drive your public speaking and leadership success. If you found this post useful, feel free to join our monthly newsletter.
Like many areas of scientific study, EI or Emotional Intelligence has its detractors. EI is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s or an organizational goal(s). Here we’ll explore some of the common misconceptions about emotional intelligent leader and how these are more based in myth and conjecture, than scientific fact. Let us explore some of these common misconceptions:
Many detractors of EI erroneously assume that emotionally intelligent leaders lack the ability to be assertive. A common inaccurate assumption that EI leaders are ‘wishy washy’ and simply want to placate others. This assumption is patently false. The emotionally intelligent leader seeks to understand both others and himself and has no issue asserting in a positive way – where ever it is required. Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t equate with being a push over or lacking the skill of assertiveness.
Many detractors of Emotional Intelligence claim the EI produces a state of self absorption. This misconception shows a deep misunderstanding of what EI truly entails. The emotional intelligent leader isn’t stuck in her own head when engaging with the world but rather able to understand the need/wants of the world around them and observe (in an unbiased way) the workings of their own experience. By definition, someone who practice EI is the opposite of self absorbed. They are able to observe the self and respectfully connect with the other as equals.
EI Leaders are Born with it
Many criticize proponents of EI because they believe we are ether born with it or not. EI like most skills is one we can learn and improve upon through out life. As most scientists recognize, people are the sum of nature (genes) and nurture (environment), in an interactive system. If we practice the fundamentals of the EI, we are better leaders, but this is born out of conscious effort and practice – not genes.
Lacking Conflict Resolution Skills
Another assumption of the EI leader is ‘too nice’ and thus unwilling to deal with conflict or difficult issues. Leaders with EI skills are quite capable of dealing with conflict because of their ability to listen, connect without bias to the issues at hand and resolve them. EI leaders see conflict as an opportunity to resolve an ongoing issue. They don’t cower in the face of conflict but embrace it and more importantly resolve it.
Emotions Don’t Belong in the Workplace
Many that criticize the science of EI assert that emotions don’t belong in the workplace. They assume that emotions only belong in our interpersonal relationships. They miss that work relationships are interpersonal by their very nature. These detractors of EI leadership fail to understand that successful work relationships are founded upon the same fundamentals as interpersonal ones. Relationships based upon mutual respect, dignity and shared values produce better outcomes. The EI leader is both aware of her emotions and those of the other. They understand how they feel and how to interpret these experiences, this leads to better connections with their coworkers.
Some of the most vocal detractors to the science behind EI leadership fundamentally lack understanding of its science, intention and practice. I’m not among those who assert EI trumps IQ or other skills, but it is a critical intelligence for all of us to foster and develop. Doubtless a leader with emotional intelligence is better than one without it. Emotional intelligence along side other intelligences makes better leaders. They are better at navigating their inner and outer world. They can solve workplace interpersonal (& organizational) conflicts more effectively, build teams that are highly functional and productive and create an environment that encourages innovation. These are but a few of the many strengths of the EI leader. In our next post, we’ll further explore the powerful benefits that EI brings to leadership. So be gone the myths, let’s focus on the facts. EI is a powerful tool among many skills a leader needs to enable business outcomes everyone can be proud of. Please do check out our related posts on Emotional Intelligence for even more details and infographics.
Beginning public speakers often fail to realize the importance of time management. Often, they don’t realize the amount of content they will deliver should be carefully considered to match their allotted speaking time. Most novice speakers think if they have 1 hour they need to develop 2 hours of content in case they have’ extra time’. They forget that the core message they’d like to deliver is more important than covering every possible detail. Unfortunately for those that don’t practice time management in their speeches this leads to less than positive speaking outcomes. Let’s explore through the following examples:
The ‘data dump’ is the type of speech were the presenter gives you every conceivable tidbit of information in their speech topic. These sorts of speeches are often accompanied by 100’s of PowerPoint slides filled with vast amounts of information. If the speaker doesn’t spend the time to really work on the fundamental message they intent to deliver – this is a common occurrence. Instead, early in our speech writing process we should condense and focus our message and its call to action.
Every Minute Accounted For
Some speakers also make the timing mistake of accounting for every minute of their speech of their delivery. They forget that a speech without audience involvement is less than optimal. If we don’t leave space in our talk of 15-20% of our time to engage with the audience – we miss out on a vital opportunity to truly connect with them. Instead, we should plan for some time in every speech dedicated to the sole purpose of audience interaction and connection.
Death by PowerPoint
Modern technology is great but it can have a downside for speakers and leaders. PowerPoint, Prezi and Apple Keynote can be powerful tools to augment your speech if used properly. We once worked with a public speaking coaching student who came to us with over 200 slide he intended to deliver in a single 20-minute presentation. In reviewing his speech and PowerPoint it was easy to see he had packed too much information into too short a span of time. His message wasn’t clear in his mind and it certainly wouldn’t be in the mind of the audience. Instead we should focus and condense our message and use technology ONLY in a supporting role.
There are too many public speaking timing challenges to list so instead we will focus on the things you should practice to improve your speaking timing.
Hone Your Message
Take the bird’s-eye view of your message. What is your key takeaway or point. Focus on this critical core message. Are you able to articulate it in a single sentence? Do you have a clear, concise understanding of what you’ll cover in your talk? Do you know what your key takeaway or call to action is? You should have defined all of these things and articulate them directly in your speech.
Brevity is a powerful tool in accurate speech delivery. If you have an hour speech, plan for 40 minutes of content and a solid 10-15 minutes of questions and audience interaction. Keep it short and simple and your audience will love you for it.
Simplify your message so ALL your audience can connect with it. Many speakers are extremely knowledgeable about a subject and fail prey to wanting to give audiences way too much complex information which takes away from their central point.
Practice Your Timing
Practice is a most overlooked skill in public speaking. Beginning speakers fail to realize that practicing is a critical element to public speaking success. It is optimal to practice while recording ourselves in front of a smartphone or webcam. You can be more aware of your timing by practicing with a timer, clock or time app on your smartphone. We can then know how well we are doing with timing our speech.
Leave Space for Question
Who is the most important person in the room at your speeches? If you answer anything other than your audience – you are incorrect. The audience is the most critical element of your speech and your message should connect with them on multiple levels. Acknowledging this highlights the need for you to leave space in your speeches for audience interaction, questions and insights they may share during your speech.
No audience ever has complained about a speaker finishing early or on time. Audience members might be perturbed with us ‘going over’ or extending our time beyond its originally allotted time. If we put ourselves in the audience shoes, we realize finishing early or on time shows we planned our message well and delivered it in a way that respected the time we were given – no more, no less.
Timing is vital for everyone from the seasoned public speaker to the novice one. Each of us as speakers should hone our message, practice brevity, simplicity for maximum impact. When we plan the timing of our speech and practice it, we are more effective speakers. What are some of your public speaking or leadership challenges? Have you ever had an issue timing your speech or presentation? Feel free to leave a question or comment below and we’ll explore it further.
Public speaking can be a difficult skill to master but its far from insurmountable. One of the key issues we see with the 1000’s of students we have trained in our public speaking and leadership courses is a lack of awareness of body language fundamentals. Herein we’ll explore some of the consistent body language mistakes students make and what you can do instead to feel more confident, speak more effectively and own the stage.
Crossing the arms is a big body language mistake for speakers and leaders. When we communicate in any capacity with our arms crossed it conveys a wide variety of potentially negative messages to our audience/listeners. Unfortunately, it sends messages such as: we are feeling insecure, we are resistant to others ideas, or even that we are feeling inadequate. No matter our intent of this body language expression, we still should not display it. If we find ourselves with arms crossed we should immediately “open up” our body language by placing our arms down at our sides. We should show a confident, upright and open stance grounded by our feet shoulder width apart. This posture and body language speaks to our what our internal state should be: calm, focused and self-assured. It is confident, open and ready to deliver a successful speech or communication.
Limited Body Language ‘Vocabulary’
Another mistake novice speakers make is that they don’t explore the full range of body language they can deliver in their speeches. For example, student may have learned to use their hands and gestures to their speeches but stand motionless and deliver without facial expressions. We should instead think of body language as a full range of expressions akin to a vocabulary that should be a part of our successful communications. We should always think about how we can add these many type of non verbals to our speeches and practice them during our speech development stage.
Not Minding Your Face
Most novice speakers forget to check in with a critical body language aspect of their delivery: their face. The face is most often the focal point of our audience when we are delivering our message. Our face and its expressions play a key role in communicating our message. We should be very mindful of what our ‘resting face’ says to the audience. Is our resting face welcoming and friendly or tired and anxious? We should be aware that this ‘face’ has the ability to change the audiences reception of us and our message. We should be aware that showing a relaxed, positive and friendly resting face will only be an advantage to us.
When we feel nervous or anxious we often express it through our non-verbal communication. Unfortunately fidgeting is another body language expression which does little to aid our speaking outcomes. These unconscious non verbal expressions often come in the form of touching the nose or ears, playing with the hair or even nail biting. All of these non verbals do a disservice to our message and its reception. Fidgeting distracts our audience from our message and has no place in our speeches.
Instead of fidgeting, we should get in a calm focused state of mind before we speak by practicing one of many scientifically proven methods we have discussed in previous posts. Additionally, we should deliver our body language with the same intention and precision that we put into developing the content of our speech. Recording and reviewing our performance practice is a prefect way to become more aware of this.
Lack of Presence
Presence is vital for successful speaking and leadership roles. For many, the non verbals they deliver don’t communicate a congruent message that they intend. In this case, you can think of presence as a holistic measure of our non verbal delivery, or the sum of our body language communication. My definition differs from the one you might assume. Presence in this case means a few things:
Projection of ease, poise and self-assured confidence.
State of being fully vested in the moment and deliver at your very best.
Convening this confidence presence is critical to connecting with an audience in several ways.
Open, relaxed body language conveys a sense of presence. Our posture or how we hold our body also ‘speaks’ to our audience. We should stand upright and confident, showing we respect ourselves and hope our audience will connect with us and our message. Smiling is part of this non-verbal message to our audience that we are projecting a powerful and positive presence. Smiling sends a positive cue to our audience, communicates our openness, and puts our audience in a positive state of mind. Lastly, our state of mind should be focus on the ‘now’. Being fully invested in the moment will dramatically improve your performance and delivery. Utilizing presence will mean that your body language is conscious, deliberate and matches your message. With presence, your message and body language will on target and your attention and focus will bring you speaking success.
So try these out and you’ll see better speaking & leadership results. While this is by no means an exhaustive list it will have you starting down the path of better body language and better speaking outcomes. If you found this post helpful, please join our newsletter. As always, please leave any comments or questions below.
Ever wondered how to close a speech? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Closing your speech with confidence, vigor and enthusiasm can mean the difference between a powerful impression or the lack there of. Many speeches fall flat due to their final lackluster close. Just like a speech intro cements the perception of the speaker (and her message) in the minds of the audience, so does the closing. Herein, we’ll explore a few examples of what not to do in our first part of our series of how to close a speech. Some of the common mistakes novice speakers make are the following:
Lackluster ‘Thank You’
Many novice public speakers will power through their speech and deliver successfully only fizzle out at end with a lack luster and hackneyed closing statement. This is the verbal equivalent of get all the way to the pinnacle and walk away from it. They deliver a lack luster ‘Thank You’ in near monotone, rather than a powerful closing statement, call to action or an engaging story. It’s fine to say ‘thank you’ but it shouldn’t be your final words. Closing in this way does a disservice to our speech and message and should be avoided.
Question and answer sessions are sometimes erroneously relegated to the end of a speech. This is problematic on multiple levels. Q&A at the end of a speech leads to a less than successful closure to what otherwise would be a successful speech. When we close with Q&A, we don’t focus the audiences attention on our call to action or main point. We don’t get to make statements about what we want them to understand from our speech. Instead, we meander through the waters of the subject we are presenting, without a key objective being verbalized. Instead, Q&A should be done throughout the speech as its a perfect opportunity to engage the audience and still allow us to have a powerful closing.
Missing a Call to Action
Every speech has a critical point which the audience should be able to grasp with minimal effort. This call to action should be a the takeaway, message or idea from your speech that your audience will gain. In fact, it should be so clear that if asked these audience members a year later they would remember it. If we don’t make this call to action clear, we leave our audience with doubts or confusion over our message and intent.
Failure to Plan/Prepare
Our closing, (just like our opening) is a critical element to a successful speech. It is among the parts of a speech where we should prepare our content carefully and practice it. A closing isn’t something we should ‘wing it’ or do without preparation. It’s something we should sit down, think through, write out, edit and rehearse in front of a recording device (smartphone, webcam, etc.). If there are any parts of our speech that we must practice it is our opening and our closing. Most novice speakers attempt to ‘wing it’ and are perplexed when it doesn’t get the audience reception they expect. Instead, plan for success and you’ll leave your audience in awe.
No Clear Ending
Many beginning speakers make the mistake of not making it crystal clear they have even ended their speech. When they do come to the end of their speech they don’t show it in body language, their voice or indicate it in their message. They leave the audience wondering if its a conclusion or if they are continuing on to a new topic. Don’t leave your audience wondering or confused. Instead be clear with your message, purposeful in your delivery and leave them with a communication that will resonate and be memorable.
After more than 15 years and 10’s of thousands of happy student – we’ve seen it all. We hope this short post will help you improve your closings. Hopefully these few examples (of the many) will get you thinking and planning for successful closings. Don’t let these mistakes hold you back from the success you so deserve. You should own your own voice, message and the stage. If you avoid these mistakes you’ll have better closings and speaking outcomes. As always, please leave comments and questions below or contact us directly. You got this, now own the stage and close powerfully and persuasively!
Public speaking involves uncertainty. You can never be sure of how an audience will receive you or your message. There are times when your delivery is powerful but yet still you can’t seem to connect with your audience. As a speaker these kinds of challenges are normal and will happen regardless of your delivery, content or message. We have to accept the fact that we must deal with audiences that are less than receptive to our communication & deliver regardless. Herein we’ll explore some truisms that help everyone, from beginner to expert – deal with a difficult audience.
It’s Not About You
When we get up and speak, we do something that requires social bravery. It also requires that we silence our inner critic and focus on delivering our message. Any negative reception by an audience should be taken with a grain of salt. We should remain singularly focused on maximizing the delivery of our message and not our audience’s (or perceived) judgment of us as a person. We, as speakers, should minimize our investment in this type of ego driven thinking. Instead, focus on the delivery of your message.
Mind Audience Body Language
Body language is a key element of human communication. Novice speakers are often are so wrapped up in the anxiety, self doubt that they forget to ‘listen with their eyes’ or watch the body language of the audience. If we see an audience that is on the verge of sleeping, showing facial expressions of doubt or distrust we should heed these signs. Try to read your audience and further engage with them in the following ways (to name a few).
Engage Your Audience
Many new public speakers tend to look at public speaking as a one way endeavor. They erroneously perceive that the audience is simply in attendance to quietly listen and not engage. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We should look at public speaking as we do a conversation. We should engage the audience to be involved with questions so they feel they are a part of this ongoing communication. You’ll notice the audience will vest more in your communication when you actively involve them.
Smile & Show Confidence
Regardless of audience reception we have a singular focus as public speakers of successfully delivering our message. If we are in positions where we may have resistance to new ideas (or change) we will have to work extra hard to get through to our audience. Part of successful speaking is not letting these sorts of challenges deter us. We should be driven by confidence, self-esteem and show it as communicators. Audiences should see this confidence and poise in our body language and hear it in our voice. Show perseverance and resilience and you will succeed.
Learn from Adversity
Our unwavering commitment to ourselves and our message should be unshakable. If we see in audience body language and hear in their questions that our speech or presentation just isn’t cutting it, we should find out why. Get feedback from members of the audience at the end of your speech can be a powerful learning opportunity. We always have opportunities to learn and improve but we must embrace them and only then will be see progress in our speaking outcomes.
What’s your experience? Have you had a difficult audiences that simply couldn’t connect with your message? As always, please do leave your comments and insights below.