I’ve recently been working with a number of our clients on their speech-making. We’ve had tremendous breakthroughs in the last few weeks and largely because of a few tactics we’ve employed. I want to tell you what these are. You know how much I believe that great leadership is tethered to skilled public speaking, so I’m eager to list these tactics for your use.
The Core Thought
I do not believe in mantras but I do believe that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This has led me to urge speakers to have a “core thought” in their minds while they speak. I want them to make this core thought their purpose, to let it radiate, to let it align their manner and their words. It might be “I’m your girl,” or “We can win this,” or “I can make you better.” Whatever it is, it is what you are allowing to radiate through you while you speak and it is what illuminates your every word.
Some speakers have a tendency to run their words together so fast that they do not breathe well. They usually do this because they are afraid of silence. They are concerned that a pause in words means a lapse in thought. So their torrent of words makes them breathe “thin,” and this in turn makes their voice go high, can make them feel panicky, and can give them physical shakes. Instead, I urge them to breathe deep and let their breathing become part of their presentation. Let your breathing pace you. Also, use it as a method of communication. A deep breath before saying “Well,” can be relaxing and funny. A feigned sigh that is actually a deep breath is endearing and helpful for oxygen. What happens as a result of proper breathing is a deeper voice, a more relaxed manner, a more paced rhythm, and a less nervous-feeling speaker.
Call in Reinforcements
Some speakers just aren’t funny. But anyone can read a joke. Some speakers just can’t close with emotion. But anyone can read a moving quote. Some speakers are terrible at recounting stats. But anyone can read a paragraph of analysis. What we have done in the last few weeks is identify weaknesses and then call in reinforcements. One speaker closed with a quote from David McCullough. Another opened with a joke from a joke book. A third added heft to their talk with two short paragraphs of statistical analysis spread throughout otherwise warm and personal talk. It all worked. It all gave confidence. It all made speakers relax, stick to their game, and let the reinforcements reinforce.
Ignore the Audience
Now I have your attention! No, I don’t want you to completely ignore the audience. But I discovered that one of our clients was too attuned to the audience. He noticed every response. He was looking at faces rather than thinking about what to say. When I said, “Talk to everyone rather than just one,” he started speaking to the room rather than looking at individuals. He got bigger, broader, more powerful. It worked.
That’s it. Be the best speaker you can be. I trust these tactics will help.