Speak with Power: 7 Power Tips

Audience

How did you learn to speak so well?

This is the question I get asked most after I finish a presentation. My answer is with power. Power is a verb. I gained public speaking power after I became a charter member of the Dawn-Breakers Toastmasters Club. Even though I had spoken in front of audiences before, very few people haven’t, I corralled my vocal power by taking this active step to learn the mechanics of better communication.

Speaking with power is earned. As a speaker, you must work to earn the power of the platform.

Here are seven public speaking power tips:

  1. Plan your presentation or speech. Know what you want to say. The best way to plan your speech is to write it down. Begin with a free-flow of what you want your audience to learn; diagram it out in a logical sequence. Once your thoughts are in order, write the entire presentation/speech down and then read it aloud.
  2. Practice, pay attention to your vocal delivery. At this point you are saying what you wrote out loud. Some practice in front of a mirror, I do not. Pay attention to your delivery – make a note to indicate where you are making a pause. Underline the points you want to emphasize. Listen to your voice tone. Underscore where you need to pace yourself.
  3. Presence, presence, presence. The time has arrived for you to speak to an audience. You have planned your presentation and practiced until you are dry-mouthed. Now, all you need to remember is to be present. Seriously. Presence, presence, presence is the mantra for public speaking power. This means that you are in the moment, present with your authentic presence. Be real, that’s what audiences adore. Even though you may be nervous, you can overcome that with a delightful, engaging presence. People are there to hear you, not judge you. Be yourself!
  4. Punch them.  Speaking is not a drab recitation of what you wrote. No one in the audience wants to see or hear you read from a paper. Instead, punch them with emotion, stories, gestures, antidotes, clean humor practical tips, and a call-to-action. Remember, you have practiced your speech enough at this point to talk from your soul – do that. Enliven what you have practiced, even if it is a technical talk, by adding audience punches which excite, engage and entertain them. Be at ease.
  5. Power your voice. Brevity is the voice of power. The main purpose of planning your speech is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Speak clearly, enunciate well, and talk in a loud enough conversational tone. Real speaking power is when you concisely say what you mean. Precision is endearing. Keep on point, talk precisely about what you want the audience to learn. Stick to the point and audiences will stick with you.
  6. Personalize the speech. Even if you do not know anyone in the audience, make what you are saying personal. One way to do that is to get to the room early and introduce yourself to people and then use their first name when you are making a point. Another way to personalize is to add tidbits about the company if it is a corporate presentation. Lastly, you personalize when you conclude smoothly and properly. Wrap up your presentation with an enthusiastic summary of your learning points and sit down.
  7. Write your introduction. Submit your introduction, which relates to your topic, in advance rather than rely on a person to fittingly set-up your speech for you.

Communicators relate to others. The essence of public speaking power is communicating and relating.

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Speak Up: Speaking Tips that Count

Reader Question: What should I do to control my nervousness when I make presentations at work?

ANSWER:I have a few tips for you but first….

Why are you nervous?

Oftentimes being nervous in front of an audience is a learned response based on an erroneous perception that the audience will hate you.  False! It is not true that audiences will hate you and blast what you have to say with heckles and laughter.

Audiences love speakers – at least those who speak up and say what they have to say. There is little tolerance for an unprepared speaker and there really should not be. Being prepared means that you have researched and rehearsed your material in advance and is ready to present a well-thought message.

Presentations at work or for work should follow the same format. You are the speaker who has an obligation to share information in a way that the audience will understand you and get learning-points that make their attention worthwhile.

Period. That is your mission – to research, rehearse (not memorize), and present a worthwhile message.

Toastmasters International teaches speaking tips which members practice in Club meetings before an audience of their peers.  Joining Toastmasters is one way to work on a newly created project and test its cogency and receive usable feedback.  Let the Club members be your test audience as you practice your speech.

Other speaking tips are:

Have a topic – think of clever ways to engage your audience interest right from the start with a “hook” topic.  Be creative-open up your mind and you will surely capture your audience. For example: Making Money is too broad and bland. BUT Millions At the Bottom of a Fishpond will surely make my ears perk up.

Write for the Audience – never write just for yourself. Instead, write complete sentences and concepts that build upon a message for your audience. Take the title, Millions at the Bottom of a Fishpond as a creative suggested from above, you can break that title down into speaking points such as money, millions, a story about fishing and finding a treasure, bottoming out and coming back up…let the ideas flow.

Be symmetrical.   Make what you write make sense. Build your opening, speech information, and conclusion around your central topic that relates to your title.  Let each sentence guide your audience to a “dramatic” conclusion.

Add on – regardless of your title or topic, add on humor, quotes, and stories.  Embellish what you want to say with personal tales, advice, a challenge, humor, quotes or other material that punctuate your speaking points.

Be natural – just be yourself. They invited you to speak and not some artificial, unfamiliar clone of you. Speak in your natural voice, have a friendly, confident tone, and use voice inflections and simple natural gestures to underscore a point.

Sit down – say it, say it well and then sit down. Audiences love brevity. The world is moving so fast and information is delivered with such speed that competent brevity is prized.  Don’t linger trying to fill up time unless you plan to add a question and answer session after you have concluded your presentation.

Say it well and sit down. Absorb the applause. Bask in the emotion of a job well done.

Count it off…three, two, one. My job is done.

Speak up and make what you say count.