The majority of us still struggle with speaking in public and it continues to be one our biggest fears as humans. In business (especially in sales), effective oral communication is a critical skill and one that always needs improvement. Because of this, I took a course on 'What Makes a Good Speaker' conducted by Jeff Ansell who is a retired investigative reporter that now teaches Effective Communication at Harvard University.
Jeff's course is extremely powerful and his strategies and tactics can be leveraged day one.
Below are the highlights from the course and the methods I encourage you to implement in your daily practice to become a strong communicator in life and in business.
"Look like you mean what you're talking about and sound like you mean what you're talking about." - Jeff Ansell
Confident communicators connect to others through words, gestures, and voice via "The 3 V's."
Visual - How we look and carry ourselves (55%)
Vocal - How we sound, our tone and volume (38%)
Verbal - The words we use to communicate (7%)
Before your presentation, think of the words you want to describe how you want to see yourself and have others see you?
During the conversation, what words would you use to describe how you want to see yourself and have others see you?
HONING YOUR MESSAGE
Use simple words
Don't talk fancy
Use short sentences
Make your point, then put a period next to it. One thought, one time, one short sentence.
Identify your desired outcomes
Do you want to persuade them?
Are you introducing a new idea?
What do you need to consider the presentation a success?
Determine the words that best illustrate how you want to come across
Purpose of Presentation
Is the presentation to inform or to persuade?
Is it aimed to get the audience to take action?
What do I hope to accomplish with the presentation?
Tell the audience the single most important reason why to listen to you
Stick to only 3-4
Information relevant to the audience
Descriptive word pictures
Anecdotes / analogies
Opportunity to discuss the benefits
Call to Action
Tell your audience what you want them to do or what you need from them as a result of your information
"A wise man speaks because he has something to say. A fool speaks because he has to say something." - Plato
SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT
Making Every Word Count
Express words meaningfully by making every sentence sound different
Enunciate every word
Change pace and volume
Emphasize a single word in the sentence
Uptalk - Undermines our authority and makes us sound uncertain
Hedging - Using qualifying phrases like "sort of," "kind of," or "it seems like."
"I think it's important to be an effective communicator." vs. "It's important to be an effective communicator."
Change your inflection or tone when changing topics
Stand up while talking on the phone
Power of the Pause
Pausing lets the speaker connect with people in a meaningful way
Give your audience time to hear, listen, think, process, assimilate, and store
When to pause
Before and after each sentence
After something important
After a rhetorical question
After a request or call to action
Stretch the vowel sounds in each word
Visualize your brain and tongue moving in perfect synchronicity
Talking slowly helps you control what you say
Only say the word you want
Using your eyes
Deliver one thought to one face at a time
Keep your eye contact with the audience to emphasize a powerful line
Make eye contact with one person to calm you
Hold eye contact without speaking to appear confident
Talking with your hands
Helps you think
Makes you look interesting
Makes you sound interesting
Makes you look like a leader
Helps you stay calm
Change the motion of your hands to match the content
"The worst speech you you'll ever give, will be far better than the one you never give." - Fred Miller
To summarize, if you want to truly communicate with confidence use the strategies and tactics from above. Practice in front of a mirror, or with your friends, family, and your coworkers. Any time you speak is an opportunity to use the techniques. Be mindful in how you are communicating and do the following:
Focus on one thought at a time
Use inflection and emphasize words to strengthen your message
Maintain eye contact
Make peace with pausing
Use your hands when you talk
Use short and simply worded sentences
Most of all, say it like you mean it and look like you mean it!
Call to Action: In the next month, break it down by practicing the following:
Week 1: Hone your eye contact
Week 2: Focus on pausing
Week 3: Work on eye contact + pausing
Week 4: Layer in your hands
"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Carl Buechner