Keep your audience engaged

6 Presentation Techniques You Can Learn From Comedians To Keep Your Audience Engaged

It can be difficult to keep your audience engaged during business presentations.   How do comedians keep their audiences engaged?   Some of us are naturally funny.  Others think that being funny is a gift from birth that only the chosen few are blessed with, and that the rest of us should stay far, far away from trying to make people laugh.  The fact is, being funny is a skill like anything else, like driving a car, learning a new language, or learning presentation techniques.

 

Comedians spend years crafting and honing their content and delivery, making them one of the few public speakers that clock up Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours that he says make a master.

 

Performers learn a lot the hard way. there’s just no other way to do it.  You can practice, practice, and practice until the cows come home but at the end of the day you have to get up in front of a real audience to test it out.

Here are a few interesting presentation techniques from the world of comedy to help speakers in the business world master the art of keeping audiences engaged.

Presentation techniques from the world of comedy

 

Rock It From The Start

Everyone knows that getting off to a good start sets the tone for the rest of your journey.  When you’re practicing your speech or presentation, the first 30 seconds will make or break you.

Psychologist Jennice Vilhauer does this effectively in her TEDTalk “Why you don’t get what you want…” If you don’t engage people and give them a reason to listen in the first 30 seconds, you’ll have a pretty tough time getting them back.  

A killer start to your presentation will set the tone for the rest of your talk and keep your audience engaged.  So practice this, hone it, and know it until you can do it in your sleep.

Know Your Timing

When you’re practicing, breakdown the sections of your content.  

  • First 30 seconds
  • Numbers of key areas
  • Stories
  • Wrap up
  • Takeaways

Time yourself so you know how long each takes and how much time the whole presentation will be and when in doubt, keep it short. you will keep your audience engaged, and they will thank you for it.

Don’t Wait To Work The Room – keep you audience engaged from the get go!

Comedians are clever at working the room.  They ‘cast’ someone in the audience so they have instant familiarity with the room.  Introduce yourself to people as they come into the room; don’t wait to find common ground with your audience until you start your talk.  

Break the ice with them from the outset, greet them as they come in, have a bit of banter with them.  You’ll automatically have back story with them when you start your presentation.

 

Warm Up First

All performers warm up and do something to get them in the ‘zone’ as TEDTalk presenter Julien Treasure talks about here.  Stretch your arms up over your head before you step onto the stage, take some deep breaths, loosen up your muscles or do some articulation exercises.  Whatever you do, do something.  This will help calm any nerves and also get your body and mind focused on the task at hand.

 

 

Self Critique

Whenever you get the chance to present or speak in front of an audience, always film or video yourself.  Always.  It’s so easy now to do it now with phones and tablets.  Get a friend or someone you know will be there to video you so you can watch it back and see exactly what you’re doing and sounding like.  Performers and comedians love this because it gives them instant feedback on everything they’re doing and how they are keeping audiences engaged.

 

Be Human

No one feels comfortable around people who seem like they’re perfect all the time.  We connect with people we trust, who feel familiar to us.  Really funny material comes from comedians who know it’s not necessarily about making people laugh; it’s about making people think, it’s about showing them that you know what it’s like to be human.  The audience finds something in you that resonates with them.  Comedian and writer Ricky Gervais talks brilliantly about this here.

 

 

As a public speaker, take heed of some of these techniques from comedians and see if they help in your performance.  Comedians face the toughest audiences in the world so they know what they’re talking about.  

Remember, good preparation and practice will pay off in dividends when it comes to getting up in front of an audience and delivering the goods.  

Great communicating is learned; no one is born a great speaker.

Remember that you’re a human being in a room full of human beings and every audience loves to see people succeed.

They want you to be great!  It makes their job of listening so much easier.

 

Contact us for details on how we can help you to engage your audiences and deliver memorable presentations

t – +353 1 9696056

e – info@confidentspeak.com

 

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Cicero’ s 5 Canons Of A Great Speech Still Relevant? Try Them To Help Banish Presentation Nerves

Great speechMark Twain once said ‘There are two kinds of speakers in the world:  Those who get nervous and those who are liars..’ And he wouldn’t be far off.  Everyone gets a dose of presentation nerves, some just hide it better than others!   Even the greatest orator in history Marcus Tullius Cicero once ran from the forum where he was set to speak because he was terrified with nerves.  

 

TED coaches, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, even presidents get nervous.  But the trick is to look and sound cool, calm, and collected even when you’re not feeling the love.  

 

Cicero knew that you have to “fake it ‘till you make it”, but it’s actually more than that; it’s fake it until you become it.  Unless you’re soaked in sweat and physically unable to speak, audiences don’t know what you don’t tell them.  

 

The ancient Romans and Greeks invented this kind of thinking; they called the art of oratory actio as in ‘acting’.  A speaker is an actor, and the best actors are the ones who are most truthful, convincing, and authentic on stage.

 

These ancient orators also knew about nerves and that they can be an important part of pumping up your energy before you go on, and, if managed properly, you can channel that energy to give your performance passion, charisma, and memorability.

 

People won’t be able to take their eyes off you and they may not even know why.  Here’s Cicero’s 5 Cannons and how they can help you knock it out of the park even when you’re feeling like you can’t even suit up to bat.

 

The 5 Canons

Cicero, that great orator, came up with five aspects of giving a great speech or ‘Canons’.  There’s no substitute to combat presentation nerves than being well prepared and he was the king of relentless preparation and practice, as he was taught by his Greek tutors.

 

Cicero’s canons are thus:

Invention, Style, Memory, Arrangement, Delivery.

 

1. Invention:  The Hook

This is the nugget of what you want to say.  It’s the distilled essence of what your speech or presentation is all about and why people should listen.  

It’s usually around 40 words or less and about 12 seconds, roughly the length of a human breath, and it is one sentence.  But that’s it!  

Brevity is beauty.  Keep it simple and keep it short and audiences will love you for it.

 

2. Arrangement:  Road Map The Journey Of A Presentation

Before you open PowerPoint, sit down and map out your story. Every speech or presentation is a story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and once you’ve got that clear, it’s time to open PowerPoint and see what you need to support and illustrate your message that will add colour, texture, and memorability.  

Story first, PowerPoint after. This will ensure you are clear in your journey and will help you avoid using PowerPoint as a report or crutch.

 

3. Style:  Channel Your Inner Obama

Everybody has their own style and in order to develop that style, watch as many people as you can give presentations and speeches.  What are they doing well? Using pace, pause, pitch, volume?

Observe what they’re doing that works and, equally importantly, what doesn’t.  Steal from the best and leave the rest.  As you practice and video yourself, you’ll begin to discover and develop your own style.

No two speakers are the same so don’t worry about being like someone else.  Remember, it’s about being the best YOU, not becoming someone else.

Great sources are Youtube, TEDtalks, and people at your own company or place of work.

 

 

4. Memory:  Build Your Palace! It Helps Reduce Presentation Nerves

Presentation nerves are often brought on by that fear of forgetting. Mnemonics is the learning of techniques to aid in human memory.  A mnemonic device could be an acronym or image that helps you to associate information and recall it more efficiently.

 The Roman orators often used the image of a palace or great house with many rooms where they attributed sections of their speeches to different rooms in order to remember the information better.  

 

5. Delivery:  Bring It On, Superman

After you do your warm up (and everybody does something), the last thing you do is stand with your feet wide apart and hands on hips a la Superman/Wonder Woman and smile (master of all your survey)

It will help banish those presentation nerves and give you a sense of expansion, positivity, and being grounded.  

Then, picture your audience and send out a thought of generosity, ‘I love you guys!’ and make it all about them, not you.  

So take it from the guys who started it all and use the five canons and take heed of Cicero;

‘Whatever you do, do it with all your might.’

 

It’s all there for the taking so practice, practice, practice and give it your best shot.  The worst thing that can happen is you try and fail, so try and fail again, and then try again.

 

 As Samuel Beckett said;

‘Ever tried. Ever failed.  No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’

 

“ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of  corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.”

info@confidentspeak.com

www.confidentspeak.com

☎ +35319696056

 

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Harness your presentation nerves

Presentation Nerves Or Excitement In Camouflage? 5 Ways To Use Nerves To Your Advantage

Have you ever sat there before a presentation and felt so nervous that your stomach is like a washing machine, and you wish the fire alarm would go off so you don’t have to open your mouth?  Well you are not alone.  Presentation nerves affect almost everyone who has ever stood up to give a speech […]

physical presence

Trust Your Body: Physical Presence Is Key To Great Communication

physical presence

We’ve all felt that surge of panic or anxiety when standing up in front of a group of people, about to talk. Your body is smart, it reacts to stress, panic, or fear and tells you that something is way out of your normal, daily realm of existence. So how do we turn this around so that what the audience see is a composed presenter oozing  physical presence;

‘Yikes, I am not in Kansas anymore’ 

Public speaking – like physical training and sport – requires training and practice; You need to put in the time if you want to take advantage of those speaking  opportunities when they come up and really knock it out of the park so you get the result you want.  

So where to start? The answer lies in our Physical Presence

Our physical presence is one big piece of the presentation skills puzzle. Combined with vocal presence, it helps establish an emotional connection with the audience along with the words we say. In this, our first of two Amy Cuddy TED Talks, Amy speaks about the impact our body language has on our chances for success.

Listen To Your Gut

We’ve all been guided by our ‘gut instinct’ at some point and with good reason. Our bodies are intricately and acutely sensitive to how we react to the outside world. The brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of Neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback.  

Most of the time we make decisions from our brain, our intellect, and forget about what the ‘other brain’- our gut, is telling us.  Have you ever felt ‘butterflies’ in your stomach?  The ones you might feel when you’re in the first stages of  love or attraction?  We feel the same butterflies when we’re nervous of a talk we’re about to give.  So the next time you’re stuck when you’re preparing a presentation, ask yourself, ‘What do I really want to talk about? What is my gut saying?’.

What Do You Want Them To Feel?

The impact of non-verbal messages are much stronger than words because the audience remembers them more and for longer.  So, ask yourself what you’ve seen recently that made a speaker memorable?  Was it the words they said or how they made you feel?  Remember, what you feel up there as a presenter is what the audience gets.  It’s like a mirror: What you feel, they feel.  If you want the audience to feel excited, then find a way to manifest that in your own body.  If it’s happy, then embody happiness.

Fake It Till You Become It

We’ve all heard the old adage ‘Fake it till you make it’, but it’s actually ‘Fake it till you become it’.  Amy Cuddy did another TED Talk about physical indicators and gives scientific evidence supporting the theory that what we do physically effects how we feel.  For example, smiling instantly makes us feel better.  Even if it’s a fake smile manufactured by holding a pen between our teeth, we still get a release of positive energy.  On the other side, slouching can make us feel defeated or depressed. Standing in a grounded, aligned posture with shoulders relaxed, feet hip width apart, and chest open elicits feelings of confidence and positivity and you will immediately exude physical presence

 

 

See It And Feel It

Michael Phelps won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics because he was able to complete his heat without being able to see.  His goggles filled up with water and he couldn’t see where he was going but because he had visualised that race over and over beforehand, he knew every stroke before he even got into the pool.  This helped him be prepared for anything and when he couldn’t see, he didn’t panic.  

In your preparation for a speech or presentation, sit down and breathe, close your eyes and see yourself giving your presentation See the room, feel where you’re going to move and when. See yourself smiling, see the audience. Go through every move so that when you actually present or go into the meeting, the situation is already familiar.

 

Prepare For Your Worst Case Scenario

This is a great one for dealing with nerves as well.  Think of your worst case scenario, ie. losing your place or not remembering what comes next. Imagine it happening, and list the things you can do to deal with that situation.  This way, if you feel prepared and can deal with the worst thing that could happen, then you be ready to handle anything else that comes along as well.  Remember, it’s okay to make a mistake! It won’t effect your physical presence, in fact audiences are known to respond well to vulnerability. Itt makes you seem more human and helps them to connect with you. 

 

Don’t wait until you step into the room for that high stakes meeting to prepare and put skills and techniques into place.  Implement small changes beforehand and as you practice and prepare and you’ll reap the benefits tenfold. You’ll establish physical presence from the offset, be more able to connect with your audience, share your ideas, and get the results you want.

 

“ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives. Contact us for details on our range of  corporate/private voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.”

info@confidentspeak.com

www.confidentspeak.com

☎ +35319696056

 

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Strategies For Great Presentations

5 Strategies For Great Presentations Which Might Surprise You!

Strategies For Great PresentationsWhen I think back to my college days and my first presentations I remember one tutor very clearly and to this day he is my public speaking guru, he’s my ‘Tony Robbins’!  If it weren’t for Mr. Rutland, I wouldn’t have got the wake-up call I needed to get the focus of my presentation where it belonged:  Off me and on to my audience.  I want to share the strategies for  great presentations which I learnt from the wonderful Mr Rutland with you.

 

vocal skills

 

Here’s the scenario:  

I had to give a final presentation in one of my college courses.  I was acting and performing regularly so I figured I had a pretty good shot of dazzling my unprepossessing tutor.

Mr. Rutland patiently sat through my 15 minute presentation.  There were a lot of slick slides my friends had helped me with. I had some funny jokes, flashy body and hand movements, and a few sarcastic comments, all the bells and whistles!

When I finished, I was beaming, waiting for my tutor to tell me how brilliant I was.  He smiled, nodded, and then he said the words that would stay with me until today,

  ‘Stop trying to be interesting to the audience.  Be interested in the audience’

How could I have gotten it so wrong?  Wasn’t I entertaining, polished, and prepared?  Didn’t I do all the homework ?  

The answer is yes to all those, however I was missing

One fundamental truth that drives all the best speakers, speeches, and presentations:  It’s not about you.  It’s always about the audience.

So here are a few strategies for great presentations to help you to take your attention off yourself and focus it instead, on the audience during your next presentation or keynote.

 

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

You need to ask the question your audience is asking themselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’.  Audiences consider their time important so they want to know it’s going to be well spent listening to you.  They want a reason to listen.  This is probably one of the most important strategies for great presentations, so PLEASE give it time and thought.  You have to give them that reason in the first 30 seconds or you’ll lose them.  Here’s where a strong ‘Hook’ comes in; have a strong hook right at the start and give them what they want – you tell them exactly why they should listen.

 

Great vocal delivery can make or break a presentation

Audiences are always looking for a reason to tune you out so don’t give them one.  By using vocal techniques and skills like pace, pause, pitch, volume, and articulation you can change up the audio and keep their ears interested.  These are the pallet of colours and textures you have to create great vocal delivery and they work, so it’s worth learning, practicing, and using them.

 

Make eye contact – make them the centre of your universe

Audience’s love to feel like they’re the center of attention so show them that they are the centre of your universe for those minutes by making eye contact.  By using eye contact, open body posture, or hand gestures you can make an emotional connection with your audience that will keep them listening.  

 

This TEDTalk from Daniel Levitin is an example of good eye contact

 

Never underestimate the power of a smile 

Smiling makes you feel good and tells your audience you are happy to be there.  It has to be more than just words so face them, connect with them, and show them through your delivery how important they are.

 

What do they know and what do they feel?

When you begin to map out your presentation (and you should do this before you even look at Powerpoint) ask yourself these questions:

(1) What does your audience know before you present and what do they feel?  

(2)What do you want them to know and want them to feel afterwards?  

This will help form the framework for a presentation that engages them.

This, along with a good, strong hook, will create the bones of a presentation that puts your audience’s needs first.

 

Remember the word GENEROSITY

When you get nervous and feel that urge to start ‘performing’ or even worse run away, just remind yourself of one thing:  

“it’s not about you.  It’s all about the audience.  Whew!”

Take the pressure off yourself.  How generous can you be with the information you have to give?  How can you be of service to your audience in that moment?  Take the focus off you and turn it instead, on to what you can do for your audience.  

Audiences don’t want to do any work, they want you to take them by the hand and show them how important they are and all the great stuff they’re going to get out of your presentation.  They want to feel good after you leave the stage.  They want to get the sense that their time was well spent.

 

So remember, take the spotlight off yourself and turn it on the most important people in the room:  Your audience.  Through great delivery, give them a reason to listen:  Look and sound confident and engaged, get into your audience’s mindset and do your homework on who they are and what their challenges might be, and above all be generous.  If you remember it’s always about the audience, you’re halfway there to a knock out delivery that will get you the results you want and keep everyone wanting to hear just a little bit more.

Confident Speak is a Presentation, Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We have worked with leading Irish and international companies and executives.  

 

Contact us for details on how we can help you build great strategies for presentations.

t – +353 1 9696056

e – info@confidentspeak.com

w – www.confidentspeak.com

 

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Voice Coaching Techniques

Avoiding Death By Monotony: The 5 Key Business Presentation Skills You Need

We’ve all been there.  You’re sitting in the conference room for a business presentation and you start to nod off. You zone out, you’ve stopped listening to the person up at the top of the room giving the presentation. Here are five key business presentation skills you can learn so that you can captivate your audience of staff or potential clients when it’s your turn to give one.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Avoid Death by Monotony - Five Business Presentation Skills You Need

 

You know what a boring business presentation is like to sit through.

When the speaker’s voice has become so dull and annoying that it starts to sound like a mosquito buzzing in your ear.

But are you aware of the pitfalls so that you can avoid them next them you stand up to deliver a presentation?

Follow these five steps to avoid the Death by Monotony presentation.

First: How to Know What Makes a Boring Business Presentation

So what’s happening?

Most of the time this unfortunate situation arises because the presenter has fallen into the Monotony Trap.

They speak from one place in their voice in one rhythm and don’t vary either one at all, and this happens without them even knowing it.

Now, this could be someone your know. It could—let’s face it—even be you and you don’t even know it.

A monotone vocal delivery is one of the worst sins and most common mistakes you can make when it comes to public speaking. Luckily, there are lots of skills and voice coaching techniques you can implement to prevent it.

Here are just a few tips you can use to stay out of the monotony trap and keep your audience interested and engaged.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 1: Vary Your Pitch

Here’s one basic fact of physiology.

The ear needs to be entertained and kept interested

So first off, vary your pitch.

Pitch is your vocal range, it’s the movement in tone between the top of your vocal range and the bottom and everywhere in between. (We’ve written a whole article on pitch range and its importance here.)

As children, we naturally have a varied vocal range. As we learn to speak we explore the range of sound our voices can make.

Then as we grow older, something happens. We start to have opinions and start editing ourselves. We start to become self-conscious.

One big mistake we make is thinking that a deep, weighty, monotonous tone for credibility, maturity and gravity.

In short, we stop using the full range of our voices.

Experiment with your vocal range—it’s there for a reason. Remember that the ear needs to be entertained and kept interested so change it up, vary your tone, and use the full range of your vocal pitches.

Here’s a great example:

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 2: Do Not Underestimate the Power Of Articulation & Pace

Next, make sure you’re articulating and speaking clearly and slowly.

It may seem obvious but do not underestimate the power of clarity.

We may have heard our message a hundred times but we forget our audience is hearing it for the first time. Everyone can afford to slow down their delivery.

We often rush and end up mumbling our words together because we want to get through the material as quickly as possible or are afraid of forgetting what we have to say next.

Think into your consonants, breathe, and you will slow down. This eliminates rushing and your audience will thank you for it.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 3: Use of Pause

Pause is perhaps the most effective and underused of voice coaching techniques.

Pause is powerful, so learn to understand and use the power of pause in public speaking.

Former US President Barack Obama is a good example of someone who uses pause well and often.

We can implement pauses to gain different effects.

When we pause before a word or phrase, it creates the classic tension—release.

And when we pause after it, it allows the audience a moment for the information to sink in.

When we use pause, we also vary the pace of our delivery. Varying our pace and using pause keeps the rhythm of our vocal delivery varied and keeps the ear from falling asleep.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 4: Volume & Breath

What’s one key objective that too few people think about in speaking.

The need to be heard!

When it comes to volume, this where breathing properly comes in handy.

If you are getting enough breath into your lungs, you won’t have to worry about being heard because your voice will be supported.

Remember, breath = fuel for the voice.

We’re not talking about shouting here.

There’s a big difference between having a supported, resonant sound that fills the space and shouting. The former is about generosity, the latter is unpleasant and off-putting.

The Five Key Business Presentation Skills, 5: Make a Recording

Finally, record yourself.  Whether it’s your iPhone or your laptop, video taping yourself when you’re rehearsing has never been never easier.

It is the only way you can see exactly what you look like and sound like. More importantly it can help decide where you need to make changes.

You can also just use audio recording. Record just your voice and you will quickly know if you’ve fallen into the Monotony Trap!

Recap

When it comes to avoid the cardinal errors that add up to a boring business presentation, remember that language has music.

It has texture, colour, contrast, light and shade to it. The sounds we make and how we make them is the starting point of communication.

So be bold, be courageous, and be inventive with how you create speech and sound.

You are a storyteller and the best storytellers are people who speak to you, engage you, and keep your attention.

By putting into practice just these few simple voice coaching techniques you can avoid the monotony trap. You can become a memorable, captivating and engaging speaker.

One who will keep your audiences awake and wanting more!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

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Myths about public speaking

5 Public Speaking Myths Debunked and Demystified

There is no shortage of advice about public speaking out there. That also means, unfortunately, that there is no shortage of bad advice about public speaking out there. Here we take a closer look at five public speaking myths that keep coming up, over and over and over again.

By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak

Five Public Speaking Myths Debunked and Demystified

We’ve all been given advice when it comes to confident public speaking.

Whether it’s speaking in front of an audience of a thousand, the best man speech at a wedding, or your weekly update with your staff, it all involves being articulate and clear in front of one or more people.

And many of us will try anything to not feel panicked and freaked out while we do it.

There is all kinds of advice out there about how to feel less nervous or how to remember all your content.

But mixed in there along with the sound advice that really works, there are also a few public speaking myths that need to be challenged.

Let’s have a peek at some of the more common myths that seem, at first sight, to make sense but in reality just might be holding you back from becoming a clear, confident, effective speaker.

Public Speaking Myths, #1: Professional Public Speakers Never Get Nervous

The American writer Mark Twain once said,

There are two types of speakers – those that get nervous and those that are liars.

He definitely hits the nail on the head with that one.  

Everyone gets a bump of energy before they step up to speak in front of a group of people and we commonly associate that surge of energy as nerves.

We feel a heightened energy before we speak publicly because it means we care about what we’re about to do. That’s a good thing. The trick is harnessing that energy to create a more powerful speech.

That feeling of anxiety or nervousness never really goes away, no matter how many years of experience we clock up speaking in public.

Even the most seasoned veterans like Richard Branson still get the jitters before a gig.

Takeaway: Here are a few ways to avoid the serious nerves are:

  • Make sure you’re prepared and practiced
  • Take a few deep breaths before you go on
  • And remember you’re there to be as generous as you can with what you have to give!

Public Speak Myths, #2: If You Make a Mistake, You’ll Look Stupid

There isn’t a human being on the planet who hasn’t made a mistake or stumbled in a speech.

It’s just par for the course when it comes to live communication and the issue actually isn’t if something will go wrong, but when something will go wrong. It happens to everyone at some point and the trick is how you handle it.

The truth of the matter is that only you know the content of your presentation or speech; the audience doesn’t have a clue. So if you miss a section of content or skip over a slide, don’t panic. The audience is with you. If your laptop goes down, they’ll be thinking, “Oh, man, that happened to me once!” and they will empathize with you. They want you to be brilliant.

Takeaway: If you feel like you’re floundering, or you’ve lost your place, either recap what you’ve just said, or stop for a dramatic pause. Both of these will give you time to remember and jog your memory as to the next point of content.

Public Speaking Myths, #3: Introverts Make Bad Public Speakers

Some of the best speakers I’ve ever heard are self-professed ‘introverts’ and have spoken honestly and with a lot of vulnerability.

It’s not about being over-the-top or flashy. Being a memorable and effective speaker is about giving people a bit of what makes you, well, you.

Maybe you incorporate your own brand of humour into your content or explain complex data in a clear and colourful way.

Takeaway: Whatever your style, the important thing is to make it your style while connecting with the audience in a meaningful and authentic way. Everyone will have their own way of doing this, introverts included.

(If you’re an introvert, check out this powerful TED talk on introverts from Susan Cain.)

 

Public Speaking Myths, #4: The Lectern Is Your Friend

I wouldn’t say the lectern is your enemy, but it definitely is not necessarily your friend.

What happens if you choose to stand behind a piece of furniture? Exactly! You’re creating an obstacle between you and the audience.

So be brave.

Step out from behind the furniture and own your space.

You look much more powerful and confident if you command the stage and open yourself up to connecting with the audience.

When you are free to move around, you have physical tools like your body posture and movement at your service. You will lose that if you’re behind a lectern.  

When you can, choose freedom of movement so you can connect more fully with your audience. The lectern will not protect you from the audience; in fact, audiences just know when someone is hiding.

Takeaway: Audiences love courageous, open people who make themselves available to connect with them in an immediate and genuine way. You do exactly that by stepping out from behind the lectern and owning the space.

Public Speaking Myths, #5: You Have To Be Funny To Give A Good Speech

You absolutely do not have to incorporate humour in your speech in order to be memorable. Humour is only one tool to add colour or ‘stickiness’ to your content.  

There are lots of other tools you can use—tools like anecdotes, stories, props, images, music, your voice and body movement, or exclusive information to catch and keep the audience’s attention

Yes, there’s no doubt that humour can be a wonderful tool to break the ice and create a common ground between you and the audience.

But you don’t have to be a stand-up comic to get people to laugh with you.  

Takeaway: The things we actually find most funny are those that are true. Speak from your truth and you’ll be heading in the right direction. If you do want to use it, try it out on a few people beforehand, and see what kind of humour suits you best.

Conclusion

If you don’t believe everyone gets nervous or makes mistakes, or that quiet people can’t be great speakers, have a look around.

I guarantee you’ll find that pretty much all of the public speaking myths above can be debunked at closer glance.  

Have a go at humour (before you step in front of that high stakes audience), own your space, step onto any public platform with the willingness to be there and be present. Most of these things are a matter of practice.

But just have a go. I can pretty much promise you’ll live to tell the tale and fight another day!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

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Why breathing is important for presentations

Five Reasons Breathing Is The Number 1 Tool For Great Communication

When was the last time you thought about your breathing? This morning? Yesterday? How about “Not at all”? Well, if you’re like most people the answer is most likely the latter:  Not at all. If you’re keen to learn some techniques for great communication, here are five tips on breathing correctly to optimise your speaking, performance and leadership.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Breathing correctly is the most important thing for great communication

First off, if you don’t typically focus on breathing, don’t beat yourself up.

After all, it’s a pretty normal thing, because breathing is something our bodies do by themselves. It’s an involuntary function so whether or not we think about it, it happens anyway.

But I’m here to tell you that breathing is the number one tool for great communication, and spending the time to create good breathing habits and awareness will pay off in huge dividends in your meetings, speeches, and presentations.

Breathing is Vital for Great Communication

When it comes to your effectiveness as a speaker and communicator, good deep diaphragmatic breathing is your best friend.

Breathing is the one thing that voice coaches always, always, always bang on about!

We’re always trying to find new ways of telling you how important it is and what the benefits are of good, deep, diaphragmatic breathing.

And we tell you this with good reason.

Just look at the number of people who are taking yoga classes these days—it’s a revolution in mindfulness and deep breathing technique.

So What is Correct Breathing Anyway?

When you breathe from your belly, your lungs are expanding to their full capacity and the diaphragm, that dome shaped muscle at the bottom of your rib cage, moves down to allow the lungs to expand, and your belly moves out as a result.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a fancy term for breathing deeply from your belly, not high in your upper chest where your lungs are the smallest. Children breathe deeply and correctly from the womb, they don’t need to be taught.  It’s completely instinctual.

So if we know how to do it, then why don’t we do it?!

Typically, life happens!

We start dealing with fears and insecurities and this often manifests itself as tension in the body, resulting in shallower breathing.

As a result, we have to re-learn how to breathe naturally.

It is quite simple, but is it easy?

Actually, to do it effectively it takes practice.

Check out this video.

So why bother learning to breathe deeply and more naturally? What are the benefits of breathing correctly when it comes to speaking and presenting?

Actually, there are quite a few. Simple dedication to practising breathing correctly can ensure that you have great communication skills.

Breathing for Great Communication, 1: It’s Premium Fuel

Your voice needs fuel to perform at its best and breath is that fuel.

It supports the sound and helps to protect your voice from harm.

When you breathe deeply from the belly, you’re getting a bigger, higher quality of breath to fuel your vocal sound.

Breathing for Great Communication, 2: Think Clearly

Your brain needs fuel to run at its best too.

Good, deep breathing helps to get oxygen to the brain and supports clear thinking, so when you feel like you’re freezing or panicking because you can’t remember what comes next in your speech or presentation, take a moment to pause and breathe.

It gives you a moment to clear your head and remember the next thought.

Breathing for Great Communication, 3: Obey The Speed Limit

When we take time to pause and breathe, we automatically slow down our delivery.

Everyone, without exception, can afford to slow down. A good delivery pace gives both you and the audience time to breathe and process information.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

Breathing for Great Communication, 4: Keep It Grounded

Breathing down in your belly, or ‘chi’ centre – as it’s referred to in martial arts – helps to centre your energy and gives you a sense of being grounded and balanced.  When your energy is more grounded and balanced, you are able to be more present in the moment. Being more present in the moment means being more connected to our audience.

Breathing for Great Communication, 5: Fight Or Flight

Getting nervous is largely due to irrational fears and that ancient ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain that kicks in to save us from a situation that our brain perceive as threatening, ie. getting up in front of a bunch of people and speaking.  Conscious, deep breathing, tricks the brain into calming down. It sends the rest of your body the message that everything’s ok and there’s no need to panic.

Our bodies already know how to breathe properly; we’re just reawakening the muscle memory that becomes lost over many years of bad habits.

I could talk about the theories behind good breathing technique and the benefits from practicing it until the cows come home. Learning a few simple techniques and practicing them on a consistent basis is the only way to truly experience the treasure trove of benefits that good, centred breathing can bring to you as a speaker and communicator.

Small Changes Reap Huge Benefits

So, tomorrow when you’re going through your day just take a moment every now and then and check in with yourself;

Am I holding my breath?

Am I breathing?

And take a few deep breaths.

A wise man once told me:

Life is like breathing. If you try and hold it, you’ll lose it. But if you’re aware and let it come and go, you’ll always be connected to it.

When we are breathing we are more present in the moment. The more present we are, the more effective we are as communicators because we are able to connect more fully with our audience.

So start breathing. The results—such as great communication!—might surprise you!

About ConfidentSpeak

ConfidentSpeak is a Voice and Communications consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

We offer a range of voice and communications programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals. Our packages are tailored for both individual and corporate level. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives

Contact us for details by filling out this form, or call or email us via the details below.

Telephone:- +353 1 9696056

Email: info@confidentspeak.com

Final Word from Max Strom

Watch this TEDx talk by Max Strom for even more

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