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3 Reasons Why Silence Is A Powerful Weapon

Power of Silence

Photo by Ocean Biggshott on Unsplash

Did you know that one of the least used, but most effective, strategies when it comes to negotiations of any kind … is silence. Why you might ask, well because silence gives you a number of advantages.

 

1. Learn From The Experts

What do the best negotiators generally have in common? They will always make their opponents wait for an answer.

When we are nervous or eager we have a tendency to jump in right after the other person has spoken. And the result? It looks like we’re nervous, insecure, or even worse, that we haven’t been listening.  

2. A Well-Placed Silence Can Build Relationships

If you’re silent and wait, it conveys the impression that you are listening and thinking about what the other person has said. And, of course, it also sends a signal that you are weighing your answer carefully.

3. Silence Buys You Time

Silence buys you the time to prepare a response. The appearance of thinking, also buys you a few seconds to think.

Being chatty in negotiating is not very powerful, and it usually doesn’t achieve the desired result but the art of creative silence takes practice. Sometimes it takes concentration to simply do nothing. 

Try practicing getting used to silence when you’re not under pressure. 

These three reasons are why silence is one of the best negotiating tactics you can learn.

What do you think are great negotiation tactics?

Leave a comment below!

For more useful tips and ideas check out our other blogs here or contact us to see how we can help you to transform your voice and your communications.

Whilst you are here you might enjoy some of these:

 

Sales Presentation Techniques to Win a 6-Figure Contract

Avoiding the Safe Seat to the “No Blame” Game: Eight Sales Presentation Techniques to Win That 6-Figure Contract

For over a decade in this business I have seen and heard so many sales presentations. I’ve seen good sales presentations, I’ve seen bad sales presentations. And yes, I’ve seen downright ugly sales presentations. So what are good sales presentation techniques? The kind of sales presentation techniques that can win that six-figure contract? Here are eight sales presentation habits to identify and avoid—at all costs!

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Sales Presentation Techniques to Win a 6-Figure Contract

In the years since I founded ConfidentSpeak, I’ve worked with so many sales executives on their presentations, vocal skills and executive presence. I’ve seen at first hand what makes for a successful sales presentation—and I want to share with you today some of the presenting habits which can seriously impact your confidence, the success of your sales presentations, and ultimately the bottom line in your businesses.

If you  are a CEO, a sales director or a sales manager with responsibility for a team, I hope that the eight sales presentation techniques below will help you to identify whether these habits are commonplace within your teams.

Because if your team has any or all of these bad habits, they are most certainly having a detrimental effect on sales figures.

1. Stop Thinking About Yourself

I’ve seen this happen so many times. So often, in fact, that it deserves to be Number 1 in this list.

Many executives might say they are “focused on their customer”, but what happens in reality?

In reality, they might know their customer’s name and job title, but have not given a single thought to them apart that. And this is recipe for a certain letdown.

Without careful and strategic consideration for your audience and without tailoring your message to their requirements—remember here, your audience is your prospective decision maker—you are losing so much credibility.

And because of that, you are almost certain to lose out to your competitor for that prized contract.

Your audience is more than just a title, you need to understand them deeply.

You must keep your audience in mind all the time. You must tailor your message to meet their requirements, not yours.

Every audience you present to has different wants, wishes and challenges – it’s your job to find out as much as you can about your audience and tailor your message to meet their world.

Yes, it takes time but will be worthwhile when your audience feels valued and understood. Then they will feel positive towards listening—and ultimately opening the “chequebook”.

Three-Word Takeaway: Get Outside Yourself

2. Winging It

Following on from the point above, so often I hear sales executives saying they have no time to prepare for sales presentations or meetings, or that they feel they don’t need to prepare.

They say they have their “tried and tested” presentation. So they’ll just “wing it”.

It makes me tear my hair out! Even if you are an experienced presenter, this is not setting you up for success.

You need to remember that ultimately, you do not decide how good your sales presentation actually is or how good you are as a presenter; your audience (not you) is always the decision maker.

Even more importantly, they also get decide how they spend their money.

You need to get out of the habit of believing that “winging it” is enough.

If you want a greater level of success you need to realise that planning is vital. Yes, this requires thought and time, no question about that and this needs to be factored into your day/week.

There are a number of planning tools and techniques you can use to be able to plan very efficiently and reap the rewards. (Get in touch with us for more on planning tools and techniques to prepare better for your sales presentations.)

Three-Word Takeaway: No Winging It

3. Social Bore, Business Setting

How often do you start your presentation with some variation of this.

“Here’s our company, here’s our employee numbers, here are our services. Oh, here are our clients too. And here’s blah blah, blah…”

If you do just one thing today, make a commitment to yourself to notice when you’re being self-centred and to STOP right now!

Think about the last time you met someone out socially and they “rattled on and on” about their holiday, their family, their car or their job, and never once stopped to ask your opinion or about your life.

How did that make you feel?

Not great I’m guessing? You might even go so far as avoiding that person now.

Now think of that in a business context. If you want to build a relationship with a prospective client, do your research and find out about them before you launch into your message.

Then bring their world into your message.

Starting getting curious about your audience to understand their needs.

Three-Word Takeaway: Don’t Do Boring

4. Delivering 30-Minute Sales Presentations

Think about this for a moment.

What is your attention span when you sit in an audience?

How quickly do you get distracted? Of course it depends on the situation, but even if you’re being regaled with a Verdi operetta, it’s not uncommon that in any given moment of downtime you’ll feel a little twitchy and do something like checking your watch or your phone, right?

I have news for you.

Your audience is no different.

Equally they have a short attention span, so make sure you respect their time. To put it a different way, respect their attention span.

If you cannot communicate your sales presentation in 10 minutes (or under) in a concise, audience-focused and memorable way, then you probably are going to struggle getting your audience to make that decision you so badly require.

So share your short presentation and then open the meeting to a focussed discussion.

Three-Word Takeaway: Ten Minutes (Tops!)

5. Unleashing the Jargon

Tell me when you start groaning.

“It is what it is.”

“Do more with less.”

“Take it to the next level.”

“Low-hanging fruit.”

“Let’s circle back.”

“Think outside the box.”

There are lots more where they came from. If you’re being really uncharitable, you could try a game of Cliché Bingo next time you hear a sales pitch.

I hear it so often—generic, clichéd, jargon-filled content that is simply meaningless to the audience.

There is absolutely nothing more exhausting for any audience.  Yes, you might feel comfortable with this language and it can be your “go-to content” when you’re under pressure, but unfortunately for your business it is much more than likely to be raising the hackles of the audience.

So bear this four-step process in mind.

  1. Make life as easy as possible for the audience
  2. Strip back all banal clichés or complex corporate lingo
  3. Speak in simple short sentences
  4. Use real examples and stories to illustrate your points

Another four-step checklist. This time, four questions you should always ask yourself before any presentation:

  1. Is this content meaningful and understandable to the audience?
  2. Is this content relevant to the audience?
  3. Is this content helping the audience make a decision?
  4. Is this content relevant in helping me achieve my goal?

If you answer “No” to any of those four, you have to be ruthless. Delete!

Three-Word Takeaway: Watch Your Language

6. Sitting Down (Also Known As: Taking the Easy Option)

I am often told by sales executives I work with that they tend to sit down, open the laptop and “talk through the slides”.

Two things about this approach.

  1. It is the safe and easy option
  2. It is totally forgettable

Even that phrase—”Talk through the slides”—gives me the shivers.

I say, set yourself up for success.

Plan to stand up and fully own and inhabit your presentation.

If there are more than 3-4 people in your audience you will have a much greater impact in a room.

Yes, it’s true that sometimes you will be on a client’s site and there may be physical limitations. But be brave and take control.

Do whatever you need to investigate the room setup and technology in advance. It requires a quick call ahead of time,  but it will send a clear message to your prospective client that you are focused on their meeting and giving them your full commitment.

Standing up does not mean you are formal. If you maintain a conversational style, you will be more memorable and professional.

Three-Word Takeaway: Stand and Deliver

7. Thinking Rehearsal is for Rookies

When we explain to our sales clients the importance of rehearsal, they look at us like we are crazy. Often they say “you don’t understand how busy we are” ! Wrong, we understand very well, we work with hundred of sales executives yearly.  We also know how decisions are made by your clients and we know what a polished, confident presenter can achieve.    So, imagine taking 30 minutes over the course of a few days, practicing your message aloud (not in your head pressing the slideshow button).  This rehearsal will ensure you are confident, concise and polished – now that is priceless.

“Rehearse your message aloud at least three times – even if it’s in the car on the way to the meeting”

Three-Word Takeaway: Practice Makes Perfect

8. Playing the Blame Game

When we don’t secure the contract or business after a meeting or sales presentation, there are of course many reasons, but don’t jump to conclusions and blame (1) a biased member in the audience, (2) a product, (3) competitor advantage, (4) some other external factor.  You must always ask yourself what you could have done differently, it is vital to do a debrief and self reflect:

Did you consider the client’s needs/challenges and create a compelling message for them?

Did you prepare relevant, tailored and memorable content for your audience?

Did you plan effectively and rehearse ahead of the meeting?

Did you have slides that were relevant to your client?

If you are answering “no” to any of these, then you need to re-assess, get feedback from the client or your colleagues and take ownership of your sales presentations.  If you do you will have a much greater chance of securing that 6 figure contract.

Three-Word Takeaway: No More Blame

Conclusion

There you have it.

Eight things to bring into your sales presentation techniques to bring you so much closer to six-figure contracts.

Here’s a quick recap.

  1. Get Outside Yourself
  2. No Winging It
  3. Don’t Do Boring
  4. Ten Minutes (Tops!)
  5. Watch Your Language
  6. Stand and Deliver
  7. Practice Makes Perfect
  8. No More Blame

Finally, remember this.

Presentation skills are a muscle.

It responds to constant work. So NEVER stop developing your presentation muscle.

If you are an experienced sales presenter and have had great success, well done to you!

If, on the other hand, you want to stand out among today’s busy decision makers by presenting effectively to secure that contract, know that this is a skill that can be learned and practised.

At ConfidentSpeak we teach you how to use these skills and techniques to get the results you want, and we have designed a dedicated “Sales Communication Bootcamp” especially for Sales Executives.

Find out more about our Sales Communication Bootcamp here

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

giving presentations review

Tell Your Story: How to Start a Presentation (and Finish It Strongly!)

When it comes to business presentations, consider this. When you recall a great presentation you experienced, do you recall how great the bullet points were? Or how those technically challenging and crowded slides really did it for you? Unlikely, right? You’re much more likely to remember great storytelling. Here is how to start a presentation to ensure your audience is with you every step of the way.

By ConfidentSpeak

How to start a presentation in business (and finish it strongly)

Let’s face it.

Business presentations tend to strike dread in the hearts of most people, and it’s not just for those in the audience. It’s often the case for the presenter, too.  

On either side we’re fearful of being bored and being boring.

For the presenter, part of alleviating those fears is making sure we sound interesting and look interested in what we’re talking about. (That’s where a good executive presence coach comes in.)

But body language and a resonant, clear voice isn’t the be-all and end-all of presenting.

Think for a moment.

What do people actually like listening to?

The answer is, they like listening to a good story.

It’s pretty simple. All of us love stories. 

We are programmed at a deep level from childhood to love hearing stories about other people’s experiences, and the more we can bring great storytelling into our business presentations and communications, the more effective we will be.

1. How to Start a Presentation: The Opening Story

For your business presentation, you need to hook ’em from the get-go!

Stories are powerful because they hold people’s attention. Like the stories Benjamin Zander or Joe Landolina use to begin their speeches, they occur in a specific time and place and therefore hold our attention and feed our imaginations.  

Stories ask us to imagine being in that time and place with the speaker.

Stories bring drama, mystery, tension, or surprise.  

So, how do you begin?

Start by setting the stage and introduce the situation, then there’s a problem that arises that needs to be solved, and then the resolution to the problem.  A beginning, a middle, and an end.

Every story has these and so, too, does every good presentation or speech.

Take a minute to watch these two clips.

Benjamin Zander

Joe Landolina

 

2. How to Start a Presentation: Paint The Picture

When you’re thinking about how to start a presentation, remember this: audiences love to identify with the speakers.  

We trust what we know and we trust what is familiar to us, so laying out the landscape at the beginning with a statement or fact that we can all relate to helps to create an instant rapport with the audience.  

The more the audience can use their imagination and see the story, the more they invest in what you’re talking about, so give them a bit of detail to set the stage. Use statements we can all identify with.

Two quick examples:

We all know what it’s like to be rushing because we’re late…

or

It’s always a push in the 11th hour of a deadline…

3. How to Start a Presentation: Your Mission Is…

The picture that the speaker paints could also be, for instance, a problem.

Such as: “If we don’t diversify in our social media strategies, this company is going to fail in 2 years.”

That’s a powerful picture to paint and grabs people right away.  

This great storytelling technique immediately creates credibility because it shows you’re familiar with the issues.

It also creates anxiety, and therefore emotional and intellectual appeal.

Because now that we’ve heard the bad news, we automatically start searching for solutions.

Next, now that you’ve hooked your audience, here’s how to keep going in a winning vein!

4. Show Vulnerability

Never underestimate the power of personal identification.  

As we said before, people trust what is familiar to them and what could be more familiar than humour, poignancy, or adversity. (Example: Watch Hyeonseo Lee’s Ted talk, My Escape from North Korea)

There’s something satisfyingly voyeuristic about hearing other people’s tales of woe, embarrassment, or adventure.  

When we reveal something personal about ourselves (within reason, of course, we don’t want to be baring our souls!), we become vulnerable and open to our audience and their judgements.

This is an invitation for them to think, ‘Oh, man, that happened to me, too!’

And in that moment we all become human together. And it is our humanness that ultimately keeps us interested.

The speaker could be Barack Obama but when he’s talking about how he grew up, the neighbourhood he lived in, and his parents’ struggles, even though he was President of The United States and his status is much higher than ours, we can all still relate to those details.

5. Unleash Your Creativity

Above all, be open to being creative and thinking outside the box.

John Bohannon is a science writer who uses dance instead of PowerPoint to illustrate new laser and molecular technology ideas.  

Not only does this create compelling and captivating viewing but it simplifies complex concepts, tells a visual story, and is irresistibly memorable.  

We won’t all be getting a dance company up on stage with us to illustrate our story but it just shows what you can do when you let yourself be inspired and use your imagination.

Have a look:

6. Give the presentation that YOU want to experience

Ask yourself what kind of presentation would hold YOUR attention and then map out your story, include personal anecdotes, and allow yourself to be moved by the power and logic of the story you’re telling.  

Tell yourself this, because it’s true.

You’re in a room full of human beings all of whom have the same insecurities, challenges, and desires that we all have.

So grab them, keep them, and then bring it home.  

Finally, you’ve done everything right. Now you need to finish!

7. How to Finish a Presentation: The Closing Remarks

If you’ve done all that, you’ll have hooked them, introduced tension, given them something to relate to.

Before you finish, though, it’s time to give them a bit of release.

When you’re wrapping things up at the end of a talk, remind the audience of the problems they face, and then give them some solutions.

You can also suggest actions to take to move towards solutions or how to think differently to solve their problems.

But above all, make sure you’ve told given them some great storytelling.  You, and they, will be glad you did.

Recap

There you have it. Seven tips to delivering the perfect business presentation.

For a quick recap:

  • Start by setting the stage and introducing the situation
  • Lay out the landscape with a statement or fact everyone can relate to
  • Outline one possible solution (which you’ll go through in the key points of your talk)
  • Be your vulnerable self (because everyone before you has the same insecurities)
  • Allow your imagination to run loose
  • Think about the presentation that would capture YOUR attention
  • Close with a quick recap (a bit like I’m doing right here!)

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 skills

How To Use Pause In Public Speaking and Presenting (With Exercises)

Here I discuss the power of pause in public speaking, and outline why a genuine, honest pause is so powerful for your presentations

By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak

How to Use Pause in Public Speaking

So, I could share with you the different techniques and theories in relation to “pause” in public speaking to give your speaking and presenting a sense of performance.

There are many clever pause devices, and some, when used well, are hugely effective.

But I won’t share those just yet.

Very often these “pause” devices complicate and confuse. Today, I want to bring the “power of pause” right back to its core, right back to basics. I want to share with you the value of a genuine, honest pause and its importance for both you and your audience.

What is an Effective Pause in Public Speaking?

First, let’s define what a true, effective speaking pause really is.

Are all pauses in public speaking effective?

The answer is no!

When a presenter is truly connected to their message, truly present with what they are saying, they will pause naturally. A pause always needs to serve the purpose of authentic communication.

The pause serves the presenter if they have a strong intention to communicate something to the audience in an honest way.

To paraphrase Patsy Rodenburg, an effective pause is one that is “full with breath and has your attention on what you are communicating”.

Ineffective pause in public speaking occurs when we pause expecting a response or approval from our listeners. For example, when we pause to wait for a clap, wait for laughter, when we pause as if to say: “Look how dramatic I am!”

Listen to any political speech and you will hear them.

Max Atkinson has written a brilliant, forensic book Our Masters Voices, for the nerds out there (me included!) who like to explore the language, body language and delivery devices of well-known orators.

He dissects these ineffective (needy) pauses brilliantly along with other very cool observations.

A Pause To Breathe (Or “Come up for air!”)

We discuss breath a lot at ConfidentSpeak. What you need to understand is that the breath you take into your body (when you inhale) is the fuel for voice.

If you want to have a strong, resonant, commanding voice then you need to understand the role of breath.

If breath fuels your voice, then you need time to take that breath, and what’s more, you need time to breathe deeply.

To have this breath, you need to pause in order to refuel your body. If you are not pausing and simply taking quick “top-up” breaths, the truth is that you simply will not have a strong voice. You might be heard, but your voice will lack power and control.

This “pause to breathe” is vital to enable deep breathing, and also hugely important to control nerves and composure.

A mantra I always tell my clients is: “Give yourself time to pause and breathe because it gives you the fuel to speak.”

A Pause for the Audience (Or “Give them a break!”)

When we truly want the audience to digest and remember what we are saying and if we as presenters are honestly committed to our message, then a pause is essential.

If you “plough on” through your content, then you’re not respecting your audience.

You’re not giving them the time to think and feel about what has just been communicated. There is no question, you will overload your audience, you will frustrate them.

And ultimately they will stop listening.

A Pause to Allow You to Think and Reflect (Or “Give the brain a break!”)

When you are speaking and you literally are not giving yourself any time to either reflect on what you have just said, or any time to consider what you are about to say, you can be described as disconnected.

You may know your content very well and feel very confident, but you are not present or connected to your words.

I’m sorry to say that this often results in unauthentic, meaningless presenting.

And the sad fact is that we see it so often.

By not giving the “brain a break”, what can happen in these situations is that you can lose your concentration or “train of thought”.

When you don’t give your mind time to pause and think, you often experience what my six-year-old daughter refers to it as the “Brain Freeze” – your mind draws a blank.

Allowing a pause to think will help you to punctuate your ideas and remain connected to your words and message.

Should you have the “Brain Freeze” a pause (and breath) will help you to recover and get back on track.

As poet, artist, and speaker Cleo Wade has written:

Pause

Breath

Repair your universe

Proceed.

Exercise time! How to Critique the Use of Pause in Others and Yourself

Try this. It’s very simple.

Next time you are:

  1. Having a conversation with a colleague or friend
  2. Listening to a presenter (perhaps at work or a TED talk).

Exercise 1: Observe the use of pause

  • The use of pause – what effect does it have on you?
  • Watch out for the ineffective pause and the authentic pause
  • How does it make you feel about the presenter and the message?
  • Observe if there’s time for pause or if there’s too much pause – note what the experience is like for you.

Now it’s your turn.

Take 2 minutes of your work related content – your presentation or meeting minutes.

Exercise 2: Put it into action

  • As naturally as you can, speak it aloud – but first hit record on your phone
  • After you finish, allow ten minutes to distance yourself from it
  • Play it back and listen for your pauses
  • Critique yourself
  • Ask the above questions (part 1)
  • Ask this important question “do I believe ME?”, “am I honestly, authentically communicating this message?”
  • If the answer is NO – then simply repeat the exercise with the focus on pausing for authentic communication.
  • Share the recording with someone and get feedback.
  • It will take a few goes – but it’s a great little exercise in self-critiquing

So whilst there are many effective Pause devices we can build into our communication and presentation skills to achieve performance quality – we need to come right back to basics and understand the authentic pause, because it gives you (and your audience) something special, and that something is authentically you communicating.

Exercise 3: Listen to these three well-known speakers

Using Exercise 1 above, listen to these videos and critique.

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard Commencement Speech 

 

That final address from Michelle Obama

 

Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs

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

                          

sales pitch tips

Ten Sales Pitch Mistakes We’ve Seen Over and Over Again on Dragons’ Den

Looking for some sales pitch tips? You’d think popular TV show Dragons’ Den would be the place to learn some great sales presentation techniques. However, there are so many sales pitch mistakes made on the show—over and over and over again. Here we share ten recurring mistakes we’ve witnessed—in the hope that you can avoid where others have gone before. Enjoy!

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Dragons' Den sales pitch mistakes

1. Having a Poorly Structured Pitch

No thought about what makes a strong pitch – people seem to think that just because they understand and believe in the business idea,  everyone else will also – it doesn’t work like that.  You need to really understand what makes a strong pitch – do your homework!

2. Using Complex Jargon

Using complicated language does not make you look smart it just confuses the investor.

3. Not Carrying Out the Required Research

Not having researched the profile of each Dragon/investor.   It is vital that you know who the investors are and their possible interests/conflicts. Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about the investors – why should they invest?

4. Poor Preparation for Question Time

Not thinking about the answers to “nasty questions” investors may ask.  You then become frustrated and confused.   Do your homework!

5. Not Rehearsing

If you haven’t rehearsed aloud, how do you expect to sound confident and relaxed?

6. Speaking Too Quickly

Having spent no time rehearsing , you get nervous and speak too quickly, this confuses and lacks confidence. With a poorly structured pitch, you pack the business “life story” into the pitch – which just confuses even more!

7. No Thought Given to Body Language and Physical Presence

Poor entrance and weak body language screams lack of confidence. Decisions are made in the first 15 seconds about you.

8. Becoming Defensive

When things aren’t going your way, and investors aren’t biting you become defensive—remember it’s not personal it’s just business.

9. Poor Use of Props

Awkward, gimmicky props don’t enhance, they annoy.  If you are using a prop make sure it adds to your pitch and doesn’t confuse or detract and that you have practiced and know that it will work well.

10. Being a Dreamer

Unrealistic sales/profit projections – nothing annoys investors more than idealistic, improbable projections! Do your homework and be honest.

Please feel free to add your own sales pitch tips to this list.

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

Main picture credit: Mikey / Flickr Creative Commons

If you enjoyed this read about sales pitch tips, then you will find this blog also very useful

https://www.confidentspeak.com/8-sales-presentation-habits-you-must-stop-to-win-that-6-figure-contract/

public speaking techniques - david cameron

Political Public Speaking Techniques – Secrets To David Cameron’s Speech Uncovered

There’s a lot to be learned from studying political public speaking techniques. Here we take a closer look at a speech by then British Conservative Party leader David Cameron at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2009.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

political public speaking techniquesDavid Cameron’s pitch at the Conservative Party Conference of 2009 was “high on rhetoric, scarce on policy”, or so the critics said.

But I’m not so interested in the policy of the politics. I study politicians for their communications techniques.

And I believe that as a piece of communication, Cameron’s 2009 speech, or several elements of it at least, certainly worked for me.

When it comes to political public speaking, here’s the thing.

There is a formula that Cameron and many other politicians use.

Therefore I thought it would be useful to share ten public speaking techniques Cameron used in this 2009 speech to enhance the success of imparting his message to his audience.

 

1. The Three-Point List

By structuring his messages into three-point lists he strengthens and amplifies his message.

A three-point list gives the audience time to recognise and react appropriately.

An audience can easily remember lists of three hence there are many three-point statements throughout the speech. Listen, for example, to his use of “family, community, country”.

(Barack Obama was another famous exponent of the three-point list technique.)

2. His Use of Contrast

By using contrast in public speaking, it provides a puzzle and it arouses curiosity. As such it opens the way for a punch line.

For example:

We all know how bad things are, massive debt, social breakdown, political disenchantment. But what I want to talk about today is how good things could be.

Of course, Cameron was leader of the Opposition at this point, so talking in this manner was easier in Opposition than it would be in Government.

3. Similarity & Repetition

He uses similarity and repetition in the language he uses, in the length of his sentences and even in his grammar. This helps an audience remember and adds weight and emphasis to his message.

For example:

None of this will be easy. We will be tested. I will be tested. I’m ready for that – and so I believe, are the British people. So yes, there is a steep climb ahead. But I tell you this. The view from the summit will be worth it.

4. Use of Metaphor/Analogy

He  uses metophor and analogy throughout his speech.  This is done to evoke people’s imagination.

The “steep climb ahead / view from the summit example” above also fits the bill here.

5. Rhetorical questions

He uses rhetorical questions to stimulates thinking, it evokes curiosity.  It also qualifies the point he wishes to make.

For example:

Yes, we need to change the way we live. But is that such a bad thing? The insatiable consumption and materialism of the past decade, has it made us happier or more fulfilled?

6. Personal Language

He uses a conversational style, and people automatically connect with that.

They will feel they are being talked to as opposed to talked at.

He also uses  “I”, “we” and  “our” throughout this speech.

Involving the audience as if they were with him on the journey will engage listeners.

For example:

The problems we face are big and urgent. Rebuilding our broken economy … because unless we do, our children will be saddled with debt for decades to come.

Mending our broken society … because unless we do, we will never solve those stubborn social problems that cause the size of government to rise.

Fixing our broken politics … because unless we do, we will never reform public services, never see the strong, powerful citizens who will build the responsible society that we all want to see.

7. He Uses Story to Great Effect

By embedding honest and personal stories into the speech brings a human touch which again connects with people immediately.

For example:

I know how lucky I’ve been to have the chances I had.

And I know there are children growing up in Britain today who will never know the love of a father. Who are born in homes that hold them back. Who go to schools that keep them back.

Children who will never start a business, never raise a family, never see the world. Children who will live the life they’re given, not the life they want. That is what I want to change. I want every child to have the chances I had. That is why I’m standing here.

8. Commitment to every word

I felt he was connected and committed to his message.

He gives each word appropriate time and appropriate weight. It feels like he has thought about every word he spoke. There is no rushing, no great urgency and this draws the audience in.

9. He Has a Strong Vocal Delivery

Pretty good use of pace and timing, and both emphasis and energy are well used at the appropriate times.

10. His Overall Presence

Standing there, composed and grounded with no movement adds weight to his presence. It gives the audience confidence in the speaker.

Some Areas Where Improvement is Required!

Timing

Research has uncovered that the average duration of an enthusiastic applause is 7-8 seconds.

However, instead of moving forward with a well-timed restart, Cameron waits for the audience to finish clapping and hence he loses the momentum of the message, and with it too an element of charisma.

Never Wait for the Applause!

Pausing and waiting for the audience to clap is a faux pas which he did a number of times.

This removes the sense of spontaneity. A great public speaker needs to be even more committed to his message than to accepting praise.

Here are some links to the speech in full.

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