I realise that for many of you, time is a commodity that you seem to never have. Especially when you have to make a presentation tomorrow and other work has kept you busy right up to the last minute.
So today I want to give you a quick summary of what you need to keep in mind to “Speak Well” – meaning give a great presentation or speech.
There are five (5) characteristics on which to focus – Pace, Pitch, Tone, Volume and Pausing. This is all about what you sound like no what you are saying. Your voice is the most important tool at your disposal, not how well you use Powerpoint, not how much you know and certainly not how nervous you might be.
Think of the great orators of history – all had powerful voices that you remember BEFORE you think about what it was they actually said. Some of the famous speeches of history were not winning speeches – they didn’t sway the audience but they were memorable as a speech because of the delivery (and they didn’t use Powerpoint!).
Let’s look at what each of these characteristics mean for you.
- PACE: A great presentation requires a speaking pace slower than normal conversation.
- PITCH: High pitched voices can be irritating. They are often due to shallow breathing because of nerves. Try breathing a little slower and consciously lowering the pitch of your voice.
- TONE: This is the vocal quality that expresses feeling. It can lend warmth and sincerity to your voice which will be mirrored by your audience. It indicates how strongly you feel about the subject.
- VOLUME: High volume or loudness is not the same as shouting. It is the way you project your voice from your breathing pattern. Think about how you make yourself heard over background noise – there’s no point in shouting to compete with the background, instead you would alter the volume and pitch of your voice to cut through the noise at a different sound level.
- PAUSING: Inexperienced speakers think of a pause as a failure in fluency. In fact, pausing can be used to focus attention on what has been said or what is about to be said. It is infinitely better than a string of connector words such as “and”, “umm”, “you know” or my personal peeve “like”.
And finally, when your time is up or you have finished your presentation, end naturally. Leave the presentation area as slowly as you went to it – don’t look as if you’re escaping!