1. Speed Up, Slow Down
Varying your speed! You can slow down just before you reach the climax of your speech to add to the suspense. Or you can speed up to add drama and excitement to your story. Either way, you may add interest to your speech.
2. Vary your Tone
Same goes to your tone. You may use a high-pitched tone when describing a lady (or how your lady-boss howls at you at work) or a deep raspy one (like how Count Dracula might use to seduce his next victim).
Emulate a firm one for authority or a looser and relaxed on to generate that playful mood.
3. Vary your Volume
Increase your VOLUME to EMPHASIZE certain KEY words. Decrease it every now and then to make the audience strain to hear what you have to say.
Varying between the two can help you capture their attention whilst adding interest to the story you’re telling.
4. Pausing for Emphasis
This concept is pretty similar to varying your volume – somewhat. Have you noticed that the audience become particularly sensitive to their surroundings when silence is introduced suddenly in a room?
Wouldn’t you look up to check what’s going on the room when the speaker cuts off halfway in silence?
Make full use of this heightened sensitivity to drive home a key word or idea. The words or phrase following this silence should be as short as possible, preferably between 1 – 3 words, to avoid dampening the effect.
5. Eliminate Filler Words
Avoid using words like “Um”, “Er”, “Hmmm”. Generally, these words tend to convey a sense of uncertainty and suggest that you may be unsure of what you’re saying. These would definitely work against you during persuasive and/or sales speeches.
Smiling (whenever necessary and appropriate) helps take fear away from your mind. Research has proven that a person’s state of mind may be affected by his physiology.
When you appear happy, confident and positive, your mind forgets about fear and you’re left to enjoy your presentation.
Smile and the whole world smiles with you!
Animate your message! In moderation of course. Gesticulate while trying to make point. Use your fingers to number your points “Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly etc”.
I’ve also realised how powerful facial expressions can be where it comes to animating your messages. Raise your eyebrows to depict surprise or shock. Or squint your eyes to depict scepticism.
There’re a thousand and one ways you can make use of your facial expressions to animate your message. Play around with your expressions and discover what your face can do by practising in front of the mirror!
Most of us are usually able to relate and speak to our family and friends without much difficulty.
Our minds perform best when they’re relaxed and free. Like our muscles, our tensing up can only lead to cramps, and it wouldn’t be nice to have a mental ‘cramp’ while your speaking!
Relax by taking deep breaths and focus on having fun!
9. Practise, Practise, PRACTISE!
Now if you’re still reading this, you may wonder – How may I relax and have fun if I’ve never done “this” before?!
“This”, of course, refers to speaking in public for the first time, or speaking frequently in public.
Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy the process of speaking when I first started too. IT WAS HORRIFYING!
But what I really enjoyed was the end product of speaking. I enjoyed knowing that I had taken a step that many others feared taking. And I enjoy having the knowledge that I’m a better person as a result of my act(s) of courage.
Now, I continually seek every opportunity to practise. Every act of courage I take propels me toward becoming a better speaker and person.
And I derive delight after each practice session!
So is this a case of “Practise makes perfect”? – NO! It’s useless if you keep repeating the same mistake over and over again whilst hoping for a different a result!
Understand that there’s no perfect speech. Regardless of how good you are as a speaker, or how well delivered a speech was, there will ALWAYS be room for improvement.
Seek to improve yourself continuously. Review each speech session and see which areas you might need or want to pay greater attention to.
If required, record yourself and play it back for reviewing later.
Seek advice and feedback from your audience (where appropriate) to highlight blind spots.
Seek materials (like my blog! *winks*) to help you target specific areas for improvement!