Have you ever noticed that when you first see or hear someone speak, you feel an instant rapport with them? or not?
You know the first two things that people notice about you is the way that you present yourself and how you sound. We generally only have a few seconds to make a really great first impression, so, when you’re public speaking, you need to grab people’s attention fast and keep it.
Remember from the last blog I shared with you how our body language is an outward reflection of our inner emotional state. But the great news is this: we have the power to change our state and change our voice.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing with you five simple tricks to help you use body language and specific tones of voice to make your speaking presentation more memorable.
So, let’s get to it.
- How you present yourself and the way that you speak are the first two things that people will notice about you.
- We have the capacity to change the way we handle ourselves and improve the way that we speak.
- Body language + tone of voice = commands respect
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FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Body language, as you will have learned from my last blog, is super important but now we’re going to put the elements of body language and tone of voice together in a complete package
1. Alignment of Confidence .
The voice of power. When we use the alignment of confidence, we’re standing upright, tall, shoulders up back and down, ears over your shoulders. You know, the minute that we let our body slump over in a weak disempowered stance, we’re really switching off our core muscles that help support and project our sound. You know when you slump forward like this, you can’t breathe or project properly anymore. I have to work harder to be clearly understood. So, make sure that you stand upright with the open stance and alignment of confidence. You know the same goes for any of the closed positions, I talked about in the previous video. If you cross your arms, for example, the diaphragm can’t work very effectively and you’ll notice that your chest and your stomach are probably quite constricted. Try it now and see how it feels. In this closed position, I definitely can’t breathe or project properly. It doesn’t feel right. So, it’s going to affect my voice but remember it’s also going to affect the perception of the audience. A closed position will keep them disengaged from you and your message. Open positions in an alignment of confidence are going to make you look and feel more confident and sounder more confident too.
2. Hand Gestures and Monkey Mouth
When somebody talks with their hands too much and waves them around, it’s showing the audience how nervous and insecure they are. People who are nervous have a really hard time being seen and being heard in public. It makes them feel even more anxious. When people are nervous and not calm, they tend to think too much, analyze too much, speak too much and use their hands too much. They use their hands sometimes to distract people from the fact that they’re nervous. They may think that this tactic is working but I can tell you, it doesn’t. It’s just distracting. When you speak too much and use your hands too much, it keeps your audience from being able to keep up with you and your ideas. You will make your audience work too hard. Remember when an audience works too hard, they switch off. So, remember the rule of thumb from the last video: only use your hands to strengthen the message. Too many hand movements will make your voice wobbly and all the shaking around will make you look nervous and sound nervous too. More wobble won’t make you sound strong. Less sometimes is more.
3. Eye Contact
When you’re on camera or in person doing a presentation, eye contact is key. When you’re in a room full of hundreds of people presenting, you have plenty of people to engage and connect with. So, make sure that you’re maintaining eye contact for at least three seconds with as many people in the room as possible. One of the most important things to remember when public speaking is that we’re really ever only speaking to one person at a time. Many people forget this. If you’ve truly done your job as an inspiring public speaker, you will have your audience walking away as though you were the only person in the room, speaking to them specifically. They will feel connected to you as though you are speaking directly to their heart regardless of whether you’re on camera or on stage the principle is the same. Talk to one person. Make the person go away feeling empowered when you finished talking. Remember the rule of thumb: when you’re speaking on camera or on stage, speak to one person. Speak to their heart. Speak with passion and really reach down and connect with that person. Remember it’s not about you. It’s about your message and what you bring to the audience that counts. You want your audience to go away with something specific – an action, an inspiration, a new idea. It’s not about you. So, get out of the equation and start delivering that content to that one person whose life you’re going to change today. To change people’s lives, you need to connect eye to eye.
4. Volume and Anchoring .
If you speak with a low volume and a weak voice, people will perceive you as lacking in confidence and competence. Many people who are a little bit nervous about public speaking, really talk too softly and they won’t be taken seriously when they do that at work. I hear this complaint a lot from the students that I teach especially with people from Asian or Indian cultures as they sometimes lack confidence in speaking a new language as well as feeling a little bit shy or reserved as a person generally. Also, some cultural backgrounds don’t encourage their young people to speak up and speak out for themselves, so, it might be really new to you this concept of actually being heard. So, the best thing that you can do, if you have English as a second language, is to ramp up the volume a little bit each day. Build strength in your voice and get used to speaking with a little bit of a louder sound.
Here’s a quick way to make sure that you have correct volume when you speak: place your hands on your waistband and count loudly to ten as though you’re teaching a group of students to count in English.
If you’re doing that exercise correctly, you’ll feel quite a strong powerful sensation in the body and feel a sense of being anchored to the ground when you speak.
Another way of anchoring your sound is to use a simple trick that the opera singer Pavarotti used to project that magnificent powerful voice of his. It’s called “oranges under the armpits”. Now, imagine you have two oranges, you’re going to place them under your armpits and you’re going to squeeze. Then, you’re going to project your voice. You again will feel the powerful anchoring sensation available to you. This will give your voice a huge volume when you speak. It’s so important to get enough volume to reach the back of the room no matter what sort of room you’re presenting in. Volume is important. You don’t need to yell at everybody but you need to be heard. If you want to be taken seriously at work and be heard and understood, you need to have enough volume and anchoring to do that. So the way that you can test your body again is hands on your side waistband muscles and make sure they’re switched on when you speak so you can feel them move underneath your fingers and oranges underneath the arms. So, we’re really projecting our voice and using our core muscles and our anchoring system to get more volume. Now, at first, it might feel a little loud in your head but you’ll notice that other people will start paying attention. It makes a difference. Volume is important, so ramp it up.
5. Pacing and Pauses
Many people from other cultures speak really fast in their own language like Italians but when they switch to English and they have a general command over the language, they end up speaking way too fast for their audience to understand them properly. The accent might throw people off. Now, just to clarify, everyone loves an accent. Everyone! It’s super interesting, exotic and different. It makes them stand out from the crowd but let’s make that beautiful accent of yours your best asset and not your worst. The way to do this is to be clear, articulate and well-paced with your public speaking. Now, I know what you’re thinking, maybe you’re thinking that you’re speaking at a normal pace but I’m telling you probably not. Many people speak too fast – sometimes due to nerves or too much energy bouncing around the body or maybe due to language and cultural differences. To be clearly understood and taken seriously in meetings, you need to make an impact by slowing down your pace and adding some pauses. Articulate every consonant. Shape your vowels correctly and pause at the end of each sentence to allow your audience to assimilate what you’re saying. This will make you look good and sound more confident and give your audience the perception that you know your stuff. So, get out there, speak clearly speak loudly and with confidence.