For many business people, public speaking is a basic component of the job. Whether leading staff meetings or speaking before civic and trade groups, owners and managers give countless speeches and business presentations.
As they prepare, most speakers focus only on the subject matter, and give little thought to the fundamentals of speaking. Even if you are giving a PowerPoint presentation, you need to consider your participation. Study these tips for a more effective presentation next time.
Vocal variety Vary the pitch and volume of your voice. A monotonous tone will lull people to sleep. Use volume or enhanced speed to emphasize certain points. But also back off on occasion. The sudden drop in volume causes listeners to take note. Pauses are useful tools as well. They signal that what’s coming is important, and give listeners a chance to digest what you’ve stated.
Body language Your body speaks volumes, even when you don’t. Like your voice, body language should vary throughout your speech. No need to do jumping Jacks, but you also don’t want to stand there like a 2 x 4.
Start by freeing up your hands. Keep them out of your pockets and detached from the lectern. Hands learn remarkably fast how to complement a presentation. You’ll quickly see that they tend to flow with your subject matter. When making a point, for example, you’ll notice that you point somewhere.
Turn your entire body as you scan the audience. Move in a slow, uniform manner. Your hands will participate for a nicely choreographed action. If appropriate, move about the front of the room. This will help reduce the jitters and give your audience some visual variety.
Eye contact Scan the entire audience regularly throughout your speech, and remember to include anyone at the head table. To avoid the “bumble bee” effect, give each person two or three seconds of eye contact. Instead of counting out the seconds–which can be distracting–try what I call the Phrase Method.
Let’s say your comment is, “This new sales program allows us to generate a significant increase in sales with no addition in staffing.” As you’re speaking, you’ll unconsciously break it down like this:
This new sales program
allows us to generate
a significant increase in sales
with no addition in staffing.
You will naturally shift your attention from one person to the next as you deliver each part of the sentence, thereby providing the proper amount of eye contact. Don’t fret over this. Concentrate on your delivery, and your eye contact will come naturally. Here is an example:
Every presentation is comprised of several important components. These include research, preparation, practice, and delivery. As you build the skills discussed here, you will become a more confident and accomplished presenter.
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