Updated: Apr 22
Your wonderfully crafted speech is no use
if you don’t deliver it well!
The truth is…. When you stand to speak, you want to be seen, heard, understood and liked!
…and you can be. Here's how...
Stand like you have something important to say. Too often we see speakers standing like they are apologising for something! Use your commanding presence, shoulders down, head up, strong stance. We teach children to stand like a Mighty Oak within their own speaking space. When you learn that at 6 years of age, it becomes the only way you know how to stand to speak to an audience. If you have to do some rapid catchup - do!
Your audience also want to be seen by you!
Remember it’s good manners to look at someone when you speak to them. Those rules don’t change. Look at your audience - all of them! Speak to them, not at them.
For large crowds, divide your room in three sections and address the audience in all three areas throughout your entire speech.
To use a microphone or not to use a microphone, that is the question!
Look at your audience.
How many people are there?
Use that number speaking voice!
50-person speaking voice
100-person speaking voice
Lower and roll your voice along the floor to the back of the room to capture the ears of your audience!
Stay in charge of your own voice.
Never use falsetto and never shout!
Hands free - you are stuck to a lectern.
Find a comfortable distance - ideally so that you are not leaning in!
The further back you can be (without compromising the effectiveness of the microphone), the more freedom you will have to really look at your whole audience. You will then be able to divide your room into three sections without losing quality of sound.
If you have to be close to the microphone, you will have to become a master multitasker! You can never compromise on looking at your audience when you speak to them.. but neither can you compromise on sound. You will have to use the pauses in your speech to include those sitting to your left and right…without sounding hesitant or stilted!
Hands free - the microphone is pinned to you.
Once you have established that the microphone is picking up your voice (whether you are looking straight ahead, to the left or to the right) then you have free rein to carry on delivering your speech using your own natural voice. You do not need to apply the 30-person, 50-person speaking voice rule! … but you do need to think ‘vocal variety’. This will come naturally if you truly believe in what you are saying and can ‘get behind’ it. This conviction will come across in your voice.
Make sure that the microphone does not bang against any jewellery around your neck, a broach, badge, pin or anything else on your person….. and remember to turn it off when you decide to have a private conversation or go to the loo!
Hand held microphone:
Further complicated by hand held notes!
Sort yourself out….You only have two hands!
Put your notes down on a table near you.
Make sure they are in order and easily picked up and discarded - no faffing with notes..ever!!! Planning is essential.
The Microphone must stay with your mouth. Imagine that the hand holding the microphone and your mouth have an invisible steel rod keeping them locked together. Too often a speaker will look at the people on the left, continue speaking, and the microphone stays held in the centre or over on the right.
Another flashing red light of bad microphone use is when the speaker uses the microphone to point at people or to emphasise a point! It happens! It’s bad. Very bad!
If you are holding a microphone, think about what you are trying to accomplish by having a microphone and remember to use it accordingly!
Use all your public speaking tools to ensure that the audience understands you, with as little work as possible on their part!
Eye Contact tool: we have already discussed looking at your audience.
Voice tool: we have discussed how each person in the audience needs to hear you easily.
Gesture tool: Hand gestures are uniquely individual and universally understood. They are such an addition to the spoken word. Use your hands to help make your point. Don’t over think this - this is a very natural thing and just needs some trust in one’s self. Too often we see speakers where terror is reigning and therefore all gestures are shut down. Natural gestures need regular use. If you find that you are standing with your hands rigidly by your side, bring them up and consider allowing them help you get your point across.
When uncovering the Gesture tool, with children, we stress that we are using our public speaking helping hands and we are not using our drama actions! - there is a difference!
When speaking to a large crowd, your voice has to travel. Allow it. If you speak very quickly, much of what you are saying will get lost in transit. So speak more slowly than you would normally speak.
If you have an accent, (and we all do!), allow for those whose ears are not accustomed to the way you speak. They may have to work harder to keep up with you. Again, speak more slowly than you would normally.
If you are delivering a speech in a language that is not your first language, respect that your audience is on your side, and know that you might not have all the pronunciations spot on… so again, speak slowly!
(And well done you for doing it!)
This is simple!
We can get a bit caught up with having the focus on ourselves and the whole fear of public speaking thing. We can have a face that says “I’m terrified” or “get me out of here”. It would be so much nicer for the audience if you smiled at them, put them at their ease. It will go a long way towards them liking you!
We will discuss ‘Flip your thinking and it not being all about you, in the next post.
“Fear of Public Speaking’’.