Engage your audience

Secrets To Engage Your Audience In Online Communications

There is no question that these are extraordinary times when it comes to business communications.

If you are one of the millions of people currently working from home then chances are, you are regularly trying to engage your audience via telephone and video conference

Here are a few tricks and tips that will help you to engage your audience, keep their attention, and be more successful in your online negotiations and meetings.

Engage Your Audience With Great Vocal Presence

As we take our meetings and communications online, great vocal skills and techniques are more important than ever.  Why? Our attention span is pretty short. If you want to engage your audience and keep them listening, you need to keep their ears busy.

Use the power of pause and give them a break every now and then.

We can’t take in too much information at once so pause take a breath, and then move onto the next piece of content. This way your audience gets bite sized pieces of information they can digest and process more easily.

Slow down and to engage your audience and keep them with you.

It’s so easy to start motoring through your information so you can get it over with, and move on to the next call or meeting. But remember: If you lose your audience because you’re going too fast, they won’t hear most of what you’re saying.

Speak clearly and use articulation to emphasise key power words and phrases.

When you speak clearly, you will engage your audience more easily and come across as smarter. It’s one of those psychological phenomena. When you articulate your words, you are perceived as more intelligent. Bill Gates demonstrates this in his recent Zoom TEDtalk about the Corona Virus.

 

 

Why Your Physical Presence Matters

Online meetings follow the same presence rules as face to face. Remember,you are still having a conversation so be just as clear and confident physically as you would in the office or around the conference table.

How you stand, sit, and use your body effects not only how you look but also how you feel and interact with your audience. When you’re on a video conference call people can see how you are sitting and they can see your body language. This effects how you engage your audience.

Sit in a grounded and centred way

Sitting in a grounded, centred way will help you to both feel and look more alert, awake and professional. This in turn tells the audience you are ready to listen and respond. Remember it’s all about the audience! So, make them feel like the most important person on the call with a strong, open, grounded posture.

Make eye contact and use your hands too

Use your hands when you talk, as you would normally in a conversation. Eye contact, use of hands, and movement are ways you can engage your audience by making an emotional connection.

Know Your Tech To Engage Your Audience

There are lots of online tools used for business communications these days but my personal favourite is Zoom. It has sharing and screen options that make it perfect for calls where it’s essential to engage your audience. It’s worth mastering what ever tool you use before you those high stakes meetings and negotiations.

Prepare Your Screen Self

  • Make sure you are framed properly on screen and have a clean, neutral wall behind you.
  • Are you wearing a colour that contrasts with your background or blends in?
  • Do you get lost amidst clutter and lots of busy colours behind you?
  • Are you lit properly so the camera can see you?

Show up prepared, polished, and professional and you’re more likely to engage your audience and use everyone’s time well.

Prepare Your Tech

  • Test out your sharing toggles and make sure you have any slides, word files, or videos cued up before you go on the call.
  • Be prepared, set up your visuals, and practice with the Zoom tools before you go into the meeting. This way you won’t waste time or be fumbling around for files while you’re on the call.
  • If you’re hosting the meeting then login ahead of schedule so you are ready for when people join
  • If you are joining a meeting, join ahead of time or be ready to jump in as soon as it start

Make sure you click ‘leave meeting’ and/or ‘end meeting for all’ at the end of your meeting!

There have already been many videos posted of disastrous (albeit hilarious:) results when a video conference meeting finishes and people leave their camera running by accident. Don’t become one of them!

 

 

 

 

Be Your Own Best Teacher

SO. In this online and virtual business world that many of us have been thrust into, take up the challenge to engage your audience and practice a few basic skills that will help you stand out from the crowd. Learn and implement physical and vocal skills that will help keep your audience’s attention and master the basics of Zoom.

A little practice goes a long way. Learning and implementing online meeting skills that engage your audience will set you up for success in the present and in future online communications to come.

Performance Nerves
How To Cope If You Suffer From Crippling Performance Nerves Like Adele

In an interview with Rolling Stone Adele admitted that she suffers so much from nerves that she actually gets physically sick before nearly every concert “One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit,”

So how does she go on? How does she perform on stage night after night? The answer is simple; she has learned to manage her nerves!  – “I try to bust jokes…my nerves don’t really settle until I’m offstage”

 

Performance Nerves

Courtesy of Pictures In Stiches

 

Overcoming the physical symptoms of performance nerves can be very difficult but the good news is,  it can be controlled both by managing your expectations and by using your nervous energy to your advantage

In fact, here at ConfidentSpeak, if a client says that they never experience presentation nerves we tend to worry!  Being over-confident can often translate to a boring, uninspiring and disconnected presenter.

 

5 Reason Why Nerves Are Key To A Good Performance

 

1. Nerves Means This Is Important To You

Very often people perceive nerves as a weakness, But what if we think about this differently? Lets  flip this on its head and think about nerves in a completely the opposite way?

What if nerves are not a weakness, but a sign that what you are doing is important to you.

Think about the last job interview or presentation you had. If you were nervous, you also probably had a clear focus, a drive to succeed and a clear intention. That counts for a lot.

 

2. Nerves Mean You Will Strive To Be The Best You Can Be

Nerves mean the stakes are high and you don’t want to screw it up.

Being nervous will remove complacency. If the stakes are high you will prepare with more focus, you will rehearse more, you will put in the graft, you will give your all to the preparation.

What happens then? You will reap the rewards!

A healthy dose of nerves will keep you on your toes, keep you focused and ultimately lead to a better presentation.

 

3. Nerves Can Help You Realise Your True Potential

When we try new things, when we make changes, we will always experience nerves – but if we don’t try new things, we will never know what we’re really capable of in life.

Here’s the thing. People who do the same thing every day, who are afraid to try new things probably do not suffer from nerves. They don’t experience nerves because they never actually challenge themselves

Feeling nervous is a sign that we’re actually living life to the fullest and that has to be worth something!

 

4. It’s Not Nerves, It’s Excitement!

Would you believe anxiety and excitement are not that dissimilar on a physiological level? It’s true!

The heart pounds faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action in both cases. Our brain can very quickly switch between both.

Harvard Business School psychologist Alison Wood Brooks has researched what is known as “anxiety reappraisal”

“If we’re nervous about performing but choose to consciously re-frame nerves as excitement instead of anxiety or fear” she says “our performance can be improved”

Excitement suggests there is something to look forward to, whereas anxiety suggests it’s something to be feared.

So if we start putting a positive association with those physical feelings (heart pounding, palms sweating), we will no longer fear our presentation, but will present better as a result.

Instead of attempting to calm down our nerves we should be harnessing them. It takes practice but it’s certainly an interesting challenge to explore.

 

5. Nerves Enhance Your Performance

Alison Woods set participants in her study a series of tasks which would make most people nervous. The participants were then told to either say “I am anxious,” “I am excited,” or nothing before they completed the task The “excited” participants not only felt more excited, and they also performed better

With nerves, the adrenaline gives you a boost of energy. Actors use the adrenaline rush to take their performances to a higher level. This can be seen in their physical and vocal delivery – presenters can also harness this.

 

The day I lose my stage-fright is the day I will stop acting.
Sir Laurence Olivier

 

Conclusion: Embrace the Butterflies!

 

There is nothing wrong with having butterflies in your stomach, provided you make them fly in formation

Jon Jones

 

Nerves certainly mean an element of discomfort but if we are able to keep ourselves from turning our focus in on ourselves, then nervousness can be a helpful tool.

Focusing on your surroundings and your audience during a presentation, rather than on the thoughts inside you, is the key.

 

And the final word goes to the Lady herself

 

 

Christmas

A Christmas Message From The ConfidentSpeak Crew!

It’s our favourite time of year again and as the CS team wrap things up for Christmas (both literally and figuratively speaking:)  we’d like to take a moment to say to all of our clients, Thank You For Choosing Us And Making Us Part Of Your Journey!

We feel privileged to work with people, every day, who make our job so interesting; and who make what we do so very worthwhile!

So whether you’ve worked with us in the past, are considering working with us in the future, or are just shooting the breeze browsing our blog; we would like to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas And A Peaceful New Year 2020!

Ps In keeping with CS tradition, here is one of our favourite Irish Christmas adverts. Check out the vocal delivery!

Women in Sales Summit London 2019 – “Own Your Space” – Engage with Presence

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. It 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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Public Speaking Tips from Elon Musk

What We Can Learn About Public Speaking From Watching an Elon Musk Presentation

There’s a lot to be learned from studying the presentations and public speaking techniques of some of the world’s great leaders. Here we take a look at an Elon Musk presentation, and ask: Despite a number of obvious flaws in his technique, what makes his presentations so popular?

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Public Speaking Tips from Elon Musk

So, a few things about Elon Musk straight off the bat.

Musk is rich, he’s passionate about his projects and he’s most probably a genius!

And yet when he gets in front of an audience he can turn into a public speaking car crash.

He gave a presentation earlier this year outlining his very ambitious plans for rocket company SpaceX.

SpaceX plans to land an unmanned spaceship on Mars in 2022. (It will then start preparing for human visitors to arrive two years later!)

That presentation garnered him a lot of social media attention, but for the wrong reasons: there was his stammering, and his style of delivery, which was clunky and awkward.

And yet that long speech was watched over 400,000 times online less than 24 hours after it was posted.

So the question is.

Why are we still interested in watching an Elon Musk presentation when so much of his delivery is soooooo bad?

Well, here are a few insights that might make sense of this bizarre dichotomy of brilliance and bumbling.

1. He Gives You The Why Before the What

Elon Musk does big plans big style – humans on Mars in just a few years!

He tells you WHY his projects are important right off the bat.

When he outlined the SpaceX plan to go to Mars, he tells you ‘why’ it’s important before he tells you the ‘what’.

In this case, that SpaceX will ensure the survival of humans as a species and to inspire the belief that the future will be better than the past.  He always gives his audience a reason to listen and engage with him.

TAKEAWAY: Public Speaking is not rocket science. Next time you are preparing for a presentation, think about this. Do not tell your audience WHAT you did, until you have told them WHY.  It’s a classic mistake we’ve seen time and time again here at ConfidentSpeak in working with business leaders to improve their communication, speaking and presentation skills.

2. Master the Art of Imperfection to Master the Art of Authentic Presenting

Musk is very good at making his audience feel like he’s just like them, that we’re all in it together, so his stammering and stumbling actually doesn’t bother us so much.

Many great speakers, like Steve Jobs, were great at Public Speaking.  They talked as if they’re on a higher plane and that they’ve got everything perfectly down pat and present you with a finished product.  That’s great and we buy into it.

But Musk does the opposite. He tells you that he and his employees have been figuring things out. He shares with you how a product crashed and burned and landed in the ocean. Musk lets us know that he has failed more than he’s succeeded.

That shows us Elon Musk’s humanity, and we love people who are human.  Perfection is overrated, this is authentic presenting.

Musk and other imperfect speakers may not have the best delivery on the planet but they can make up for it with vulnerability,honesty, and passion for their subject.  You can teach techniques for great delivery, but it’s mighty hard to manufacture real, honest feeling.

TAKEAWAY: Next time you present, be sincere and your audience will follow you anywhere, regardless of how much you stumble or stammer.

3. Elon Musk is the Definition of an Authentic Presenter: What You See is What You Get

Many people describe Musk as ‘authentic’.

The word ‘authenticity’ has been bandied about a lot in corporate circles of late so let’s just remind ourselves what it actually means.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines authenticity as:

True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.  Not false or imitation.

Musk gets down to brass tacks, lets the audience know that he’s down-to-earth and vulnerable, and lets his feelings show about what inspires him.  

The idea of living out amongst the stars excites him and he tells the audience exactly that. He is telling us his dream—and audiences love people who follow their dreams.

Especially when it led them to become billionaire entrepreneurs.

There’s a lot to be said for credibility when presenting. Sometimes we gain credibility because of our position or from the amount of money we have or how many accolades we’ve collected.  All these factors do carry a certain weight and give the speaker gravitas, ensuring they have a better chance to get the audience on-side before they’ve even stepped on stage.

Yet when it comes down to it, two things will always sway an audience.

Great delivery, and humanity.

TAKEAWAY: Next time you get up in front of an audience, give them a clear, confident, credible delivery and you’re on your way to a winner. Give them humanity, vulnerability, and passion in addition to that and you’re on your way to home-run World Series victory.

Here’s the full Elon Musk presentation from SpaceX. Watch for yourself

 

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(Main picture credit: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr Creative Commons)

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

Vocal delivery techniques from Oprah

Five Vocal Delivery Techniques You Can Learn from Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Speech

Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes was powerful and inspiring. But let’s take a look at the vocal delivery techniques she used to ensure her message was received loud and clear.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Naturally much will be discussed over the coming weeks about Oprah Winfrey’s speech at this year’s Golden Globes.

Her message to her audience was powerful, emotive, thought-provoking and inspiring.

But as a voice, communications and executive presence coach, I feel compelled to examine the importance of “how” she delivered her empowering message as much as the content of that message.

I’ve written before about Oprah’s exceptional speaking skills, in my blog “The Oprah Communications Manual in 8 Easy Steps“.

But specifically on her phenomenal Golden Globes performance, allow me to break down and analyse the vocal delivery techniques Oprah used to ensure her message was loud and clear.

These are delivery techniques that you too can take into your speeches and presentations.

1. Showing up Authentically is a Key Vocal Delivery Technique

There is no question with this speech, Oprah delivered her message with authenticity and honesty.

The reality is that any audience will connect and engage with people who are truly themselves. Yes, the content is emotive, but you really get a sense that she truly believes her message.

Once there is authenticity in your message, then strong vocal techniques will be easier to access.

When you deliver a business presentation, how authentic are you with your audience? Or do you drop into presenter mode? Because, so many do.

Your Task

Ahead of your next presentation, consider these two questions carefully:

  • What do you feel about your message to the audience?
  • What do you want your audience to feel about your message?

“Feel?” I hear you ask!

Yes, FEEL!

Not what you want them to know and understand, but what you want them to FEEL.

Do you want them to feel excited, curious, frustrated, sad? Whatever that feeling is, you need to think carefully about it, as it needs to be conveyed in your vocal delivery.

2. Great use of timing. She combines pause and pace brilliantly.

The space between your thoughts can be as powerful as the thoughts themselves. She makes great use of pause throughout her speech.

With such strong words she understands her audience needs this time to process her message. Pause is used to strong dramatic effect also.

We can implement pauses to gain different effects.

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

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

As opposed to highlighting specific examples in this speech I would simply urge you to listen to the full ten minutes for her use of pause.

It requires bravery for any presenter to accept that silence. If we trust the pause we will hold a listener’s attention.

There is no question about this. It’s so compelling.

When we use pauses, we can also vary the pace of our delivery and the two go hand in hand.

Varying our pace and using the power of pause keeps the rhythm of our vocal delivery varied and keeps the ear from falling asleep.

You can hear throughout this speech she varies pace – for important statements, you’ll hear she slows right down to emphasise the importance of her words.  You’ll hear increases the pace to create energy.

Your Task

For your next presentation, accept the silence.

Try this useful Tempo Technique to engage your audience

  1.  Speed up the tempo before you make that important point
  2.  Pause
  3.  Then slow down to deliver it

It carries your listeners forward and then make them wait.  It’s a classic tension/release at work.  It takes practice, but it’s a very clever device, and it’s powerful.

(Example: Listen to 5.00-5.16 minutes in Oprah’s speech)

3. The Power of Your Consonants in Vocal Delivery

This is where the voice geek in me comes out!

They don’t get much airtime, but consonants can really work for us when we speak and they are used well in Oprah’s speech.

They can grab our listeners’ attention and hold onto it. I believe they give speech emphasis and intent. People often think that they need to speak louder to make their messages stand out, but this is not the case.

I think by Oprah focusing on her consonants she really drives home her message throughout. Any time you want to drive home a point, implant a thought, do it by giving more thought to the consonants in your words. They will make what you say more effective and dynamic.

Your Task

Try this useful Consonant Technique to drive your message home.

Lengthen the consonants in the word or syllable you want to emphasise.

This creates the illusion of being louder by bringing everything to a halt while we wait for that word.

4. The Importance of Power words: What They Are, and How to Make Them Powerful

All words are not created equally.

When we speak we do not pronounce each and every word and syllable with the same importance.

It is so evident in Oprah’s speech.

If you want your audience to listen and engage then you need to understand

  1. What are power words, and
  2. How to give these power words the power!

Power words are the 1-3 words in each phase or sentence that absolutely reduce it down to its basic meaning.

They communicate the essence of what we are saying.

These words require more time more emphasis, more vocal importance, if they are to resonate with the audience.

But how does Oprah do this? And how do we do it?

First things first: like Oprah does, you need to be authentically communicating your message. To be really connected to and truly believe your message.

  • Change of volume: Listen how Oprah either increases or decreases volume on specific power words
  • Pitch variation: She changes the pitch on certain power words to highlight and bring importance to them—she makes them stand out
  • Articulation: She will overly articulate certain consonants in the power words to bring the word out further—lest the audience forget!
  • Change of pace: She tends to speed up and then slows down on her power words/phrases.
  • Pause: She will pause before or after key power words

Your Task

Try combinations of any of the above.

They are vital to a strong vocal delivery – that will be listened to and understood by your audience.

You can hear examples of Oprah using power words effectively throughout her speech, but skip to 8.00 mins and onwards for a series of great examples, such as:

  • “ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning
  • “even during our darkest nights
  • “when that new day finally dawns”
  • “the time when nobody has to say me too again”

5. Mastering the Skill of the “Clap Trap” is One of the Best Vocal Delivery Techniques

She doesn’t wait for the applause and she doesn’t wait for clapping to stop before she continues.  Pausing and waiting for the audience to clap is a faux pas, it removes the sense of spontaneity.  Carrying on with her message and refusing the applause implies that she is not expecting a clap, she is more focused on her message than herself.   A speaker always needs to be more committed to the message than to accepting praise. This she does very well throughout her speech

Skip to minutes 2:22, 3:22 and 7:02 to see Oprah do this.

Conclusion

Be under no illusions, Oprah would most certainly have practiced and rehearsed this speech many times to refine her vocal delivery techniques.

It would have been a shame to have a great message delivered poorly.  My message to you is that it’s not enough to have a strong message—your vocal delivery needs to support that importance of your message.

So, finally, record yourself when you’re preparing and practicing your words.

It is the only way you can hear exactly what you sound like and then you can make changes accordingly.

  • Are your showing up authentically in your speech?
  • Are you using pause and pace combined to engage your audience?
  • How are you making your power words standout and be POWERFUL?
  • Are you giving Consonants the importance they deserve?
  • Finally, don’t fall into claptrap mistakes!

Here’s Oprah’s Full Speech

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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