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speech maker

Master Your Dialogue: How to Learn From the World’s Best Speakers

WRiters of dialogue always listen to how people speak. It’s the same with speaking. To be the best, you must study the world’s best speakers.

By Ariadne Laurenns, ConfidentSpeak

How to Learn from the World's Best SpeakersSeveral years after the sad passing of Maeve Binchy, the much loved Irish author is still sorely missed.

Whether an ardent fan of Maeve’s literature or not, one simply cannot ignore her innate ability to weave a good yarn and to write great dialogue.

The latter is, I think, an essential skill in novel writing which is all to often overlooked and underrated.

In a blog post by Derbhile Dromey, Derbhile discusses Binchy’s ability to “capture the natural rhythms of people’s speech”.

She goes on to say:

Dialogue brings a story to life. Without it, books would just be big wodges of text … The best way to create dialogue is to listen to people speaking. You’ll naturally absorb their speech patterns into your writing.

How to Learn from the World’s Best Speakers

In much the same way, a good way to improve your own speech writing and delivery is to listen to experienced speakers.

The more you listen to experienced speakers, the more you will absorb their techniques into your own talks.

You can learn a lot by paying close attention to how they construct their talk and to the pace at which they deliver it.

TED Talks are, of course, a great source of talks from which to draw.

Everywhere from YouTube to Ted.com, the world’s best speakers are just a few clicks away.

Anyone who needs to speak publicly with any amount of regularity—or, indeed, if public speaking is something you would like to do more of—you should make a recurring calendar appointment with yourself to dip into a selection of TED talks.

Below, to get you started, one of our all-time favourites: a great talk from Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire.

Enjoy.

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

“Sing It Mummy Sing It” Engaging Your Audience Isn’t Always Childs Play…

vocal skills

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

 

I often tell clients that the most difficult audience to engage is little children – if you don’t engage them vocally they will simply tune out – then you have lost your audience!

 

So What Do I Mean By ‘Vocally Engaging’…

Well, by using contrast in your voice throughout a story you will effectively bring the words to life so think…

  • Pitch variety
  • Contrast in volume
  • Change in pace
  • Use of pause.    

Being aware of the above aspects throughout your reading or storytelling will help you to lift the words off the page, evoke emotion and keep both the attention as well as the imagination of the little listeners alive.

The Test

I have a 2 year old that puts me to the test on a regular basis. Reading her stories is I have to admit hard work some times. If I lose interest, or just start reading as if to myself – I hear “sing it mummy sing it” and she turns back the page and waits for my next attempt. 

 

(please note – the above photo is not aforementioned 2 year old!)

The Reality

This works on grownups too!! With an adult audience they are not as forthcoming with their comments – they simply tune out and once they have done that you have almost certainly lost them…

 

An Honest Critique 

So to my most honest critique – my 2 year old reminds me that engaging your listener takes practice, energy and a will to be effective…what ever their age!!

Ok, anyone for a story?…..

Olivia

  

vocal skills

The Train Arriving At Platform Blah-Blah-Blah…

With the news that railway station public address staff in Australia will be trained by broadcast professionals in the art of microphone techniques and enunciation, is this to mark the end of one dreaded travel experience—the public address announcement no-one hears or understands?

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

vocal skills

We’ve all been there.

Sitting on the platform of a railway station or on a train.

Straining our ears to try to decipher the incoherent muffled announcements – which somehow always sound as though they are practically eating the microphone!

In a move to improve customer satisfaction, rail staff in New South Wales are to receive formal training in an attempt to improve the clarity and quality of their announcements.

Their training will be “conducted”—excuse the pun!—by broadcast training professionals.

It will cover enunciation, voice, delivery and scripting,  as well as microphone techniques (Phew!)

Listening to this example.

I wonder if Irish Rail follow suit?

 

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: Tomas Anton Escobar / Unsplash

pace in public speaking

Presentation Tips: Why Pace of Delivery Is So Important

Here I discuss the importance of pace in public speaking, and outline one great exercise to allow you to get your pace of delivery just right.

By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak

pace in public speaking

Every day when I’m working with clients on the art of great presence and communication, or studying the world’s greatest communicators and speakers on just what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

Pace in public speaking is one thing that’s so important to great presentation and communication.

I have to admit when I initially talk about the appropriate pace of delivery, people tend to get confused.

So here’s a fun way I found to give you an idea of your pace in public speaking:

Before we start let’s be clear.

  • Pace is the speed at which we speak.  It can be expressed in Words per Minute (WPM)
  • Conversational speech can take place as quickly as 180-200 WPM
  • 200 WPM is way too fast for presenting information
  • So you should aim to speak at no more than 120-150 WPM

Presentation Tips: Pace of Delivery and the Word Per Minute Exercise

Set the timer on your phone and read the following 148 word passage at your natural rate and time yourself!

A good speech is one that is memorable. A good speech is usually not too long. One of the greatest virtues a speaker can possess is brevity. This begs the question: how does one go about constructing and delivering an address to an audience?

There are some basic principles that should be observed.

Firstly, never speak on a subject about which you know nothing or are in anyway unsure.

Secondly, do not be tempted to give an impromptu speech until you are very experienced.

And thirdly, try not to make too many points.

Finally, remember rehearsal is also extremely important. Many top speakers spend hours practising their delivery and this is time well spent. Paying particular attention to the voice is good advice because if you are not accustomed to speaking in public, then you will need to establish how to project and produce your voice effectively.

So, how did you do?

Remember, this is just a bit of fun.

Your pace will always vary, and will be dictated by your level of engagement and commitment and feeling towards your message.

This 148-word passage should take between 60 and 75 seconds to speak at a presentation pace of 120-150 WPM.

So if your delivery here was outside that recommended band, then it would be a good idea to practise this a couple more times and make the necessary changes. It could be a game-changer in the way you’re speaking to your audience—whether that’s the rest of your team at work, a boardroom of managers or directors, a few potential clients for a pitch presentation or even a packed auditorium.

Good luck!

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

 

Breath and Good Posture

Why Breathing Into Your Chest Is Not Good for Public Speaking Posture

There is so much advice about public speaking out there, and when I see some I disagree with I just have to speak out! In this instance, a recent article which advised that breathing into your chest will help you have good public speaking posture—advice that I fundamentally disagree with. I outline why below.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Why Chest Breathing is Not Good for Public Speaking Posture

I was reading an article in a fashion magazine recently, and a fashion “expert” was discussing good posture.  The main advice related to breathing into your chest, encouraging you to “breathe into your chest and this will encourage good posture”.

Anyone who has worked with our team at ConfidentSpeak on voice coaching or presentation training will know immediately that this is not what we would recommend!

Focusing your breathing into your chest is simply poor practice and it will cause problems elsewhere, especially when it comes to creating a solid public speaking posture.

Three Reasons Breathing Into Your Chest is Poor Practice for Public Speaking Posture

  1. It creates upper body tension – which we don’t want, as this has a negative effect on our posture
  2. It affects the quality and sound of your voice – in terms of volume, resonance, pitch and so much more – don’t get me started!
  3. By breathing into the chest we hinder the natural breathing mechanism – remember the lungs, rib cage, diaphragm and abdominal region all play a part in correct breathing.

You can see that if by any chance you’re nervous or stressed before a presentation, interview or meeting, breathing into the chest certainly won’t help.

So What Can You Do to Improve Your Public Speaking Posture?

Firstly, don’t follow the “advice” in this magazine!

The best practice, tried and tested throughout our programmes, is to do this simple exercise taken from the Alexander Technique.

The Alexander Technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body. It is a technique for your body and posture to make your body work efficiently.

The Exercise

  1. For a moment focus on your shoulder blades. (Not your shoulders. Your shoulder blades are positioned either side of your spine. You should be able to touch them with your hands).
  2. Simply think about your two shoulder blades ever so slightly moving to meet your spine. The movement is very tiny. This will open the chest, gently draw the shoulders back without creating any tension, improving your posture instantly—without hindering your breathing.

Have a listen to this Body Learning podcast interview with Robert Rickover, a noted teacher of the Alexander Technique, to gain a better understanding about this method of learning to redirect your own mind and body to use it more effectively.

Good luck.

And good posture!

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 above via Nine Köpfer/Unsplash)

telephone voice

Making Your Phone Voice Work For You: The 8-Step, 5-Minute Checklist

What does your phone voice really say about you? Have you even given it a second thought? If not, you should! Because how you sound on the phone can have a big impact on how you’re viewed … and ultimately make a big difference to your bottom line.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

Making Your Phone Voice Work For You

I was recently working with a group of consultants who present formally on a regular basis.

Now these presentations can be face-to-face, either in a meeting room or on a stage in front of a bigger audience.

But often the presentations can be via teleconference.

What was most interesting to me was that they didn’t really give a second thought to how they sounded on the phone.

Yes, they were hugely aware of their vocal impact when formally presenting in physical proximity, but on the phone? Not so much.

One individual had a big shock and got a real insight into his communication style. He discovered when he heard his “conference call” played back how badly his phone voice served him.

He realised he had placed no importance on his telephone vocal delivery. He wanted to engage and influence his listener, but had not acknowledged that working to improve his phone voice was an important step.

Over the telephone your voice plays a very important role since there is obviously no physical presence, but people often don’t give their voice a second thought.

Improving Your Phone Voice: A 5-Minute Checklist

  1. Posture: Sit correctly or even better stand up, it helps breathing, and vocal quality. A collapsed body = a collapsed voice.
  2. Slow down: Remember it’s your listeners first time to hear your message, so respect them!
  3. Clarity: Give appropriate weight and clarity to your words, otherwise you’ll be asked to repeat yourself
  4. Pause: Remember to pause to allow the listener to digest your message. Pause and breathe, it’s very important! (For more on this, check out our in-depth blogs on the importance of pause and the importance of breath.)
  5. Vocal Presence: Stay connected to your message, do not simply “go through the motions” (we’ve all been on the receiving end of that).
  6. Volume: Ensure you increase your volume to an appropriate level. Use appropriate pitch and pace variation to engage your listener.
  7. Smile: Even if you’re not visible, when it’s appropriate, smile! It brightens and lightens the voice.

Phone Voice Bonus Tip 8:

Listen back

Why not listen back to your own phone message? The one that usually goes “Hi, you’ve reached ……, I can’t take your call… blah blah.”

There are three C’s you can follow here.

Cringe.

Then critique.

Then change it, if necessary!

Conclusion

There you have it.

A very quick checklist of items and actions to help you improve your phone voice, so that you can be more confident on the phone and ultimately ensure you can wow any audience—whether you’re in the same room or not!

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

 

 

difficult audience

How to Prevent Vocal Problems: Five Things to Save Your Voice From Damage

Coaches, trainers and teachers everywhere are most at risk from vocal problems and voice damage—which can even be serious enough to threaten their livelihood. So what can you do to take long-term care of your voice? Here are a few tips.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

prevent vocal damage and voice problemsSo I’m in the park for an evening walk and I’m amazed at all the fitness bootcamps in full swing.

(I’m also feeling a certain degree of guilt, but that’s another story for another day…)

What strikes me is all the shouting those fitness gurus are doing, and I spare a thought for their strained, worn out vocal folds!

Fitness coaches of all kinds, from athletics to football to swimming to personal training, and of course teachers are amongst the highest professions that suffer from vocal loss.

They often need time off, or indeed have to leave their chosen profession entirely, as a result of vocal problems.

So, if you are using your voice loudly outdoors, you need to learn how do it correctly.

Here’s a quick check list…

1. Posture is Important

You need to understand about posture – Neutral, centred posture – particularly the “head neck relationship”. Check out the Alexander Technique for more.

2. Release Any Tension

You need to rid the body of unnecessary tension  – Particularly in the shoulder, neck, jaw and abdominal  areas.  Unnecessary tension effects breathing, which immediately effects your voice.

3. Breathing Helps Support Your Voice

You need to learn how to breathe correctly to support your voice – Taking the focus away from upper chest breathing and instead focusing the breath deeper in the body is vital for s strong, clear (unforced) voice. You will need to practice breathing exercises to build up muscle memory.

4. Warming Up is Not Just for Your Arms or Leg Muscles

You need to spend time warming up the vocal muscles – They are like any other muscle in the body and require a warm up to function at their best. I have plenty of exercises to share

5. Learn to Support Your Voice to Prevent Vocal Problems

You need to learn to support your voice – Otherwise known as ‘projecting your voice safely’ this requires practical exercises which I will post shortly.

Now because cause I’m helping out with my own vocal fitness regime, I no longer have to feel guilty about not being part of the fitness bootcamp gang, right?

Ah, okay then… has anyone seen my jogging pants?

Olivia

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: Gem & Lauris RK on Unsplash

Public Speaking Skills: How to Connect with Any Audience

Public Speaking Skills: The Art of Connecting with Any Audience (From Start to Finish)

When you’re thinking about the public speaking skills you need to succeed, it pays to think first and foremost about your audience. Here are seven things every audience needs to keep them hanging on your every word.

By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak

Public Speaking Skills: How to Connect with Any AudienceWhen speakers are building their public speaking skills and making all the necessary preparations and arrangements for their talk, there is one thing that often happens—they might spend hours of prep on a single slide, but neglect to really prepare to serve their audience!

So if there’s one vital piece of advice to give for you in any environment where you’re talking in front of an audience—from sales presentations to staff meetings to a keynote address to a packed auditorium—make sure to take note of the following seven tips to better serve your audience.

Start thinking about your poor audience – they are busy too! and they’ve given up their time to listen to you!  This is what they need:

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 1: A Reason to Listen

An audience will not listen to you unless they know why they should – it’s as simple as that!

So, you need to make it very clear from the start why your presentation is important to them.

What’s the benefit?

What are the consequences?

They need to know WIIFM—the “what’s in it for me?” question.

Fail to take note, and you might not have an audience at all.

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 2: Life Made Really Easy for Them

When you’re doing your talk prep, make sure to structure you message simply and clearly.

If you’re inexperienced find out about basic structuring for a presentation.

I always this it’s useful to think of “the audience” as friends.

And the truth is, subconsciously no audience wants to work hard. They don’t want to wade through complex slides trying to figure out what exactly they need to do. Structure things as simply and clearly as you can to make life really easy for any audience.

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 3: Simple and User-Friendly Language

Stop using jargon and complex language—immediately!

There’s a misconception about complex language. Some people think it makes them sound more intelligent.

But the truth is it doesn’t. Jargon and complexity is much more likely to bore, alienate and frustrate your listener.

So avoid that at all costs and use a conversational style with matching language.

Believe me—it’s no less professional. In fact, it’s much more professional!

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 4: A Relevant Message

I suggest every point you make ask yourself this question.

Why would this be remotely relevant to the listener?

If you think it is or should be relevant to them, then ask yourself a second question:

How am I making this relevant and understandable to them?

Every point you make needs to be in “audience context”.

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 5: A Memorable Message

If they feel they are being talked to, as opposed to talked at, they are more likely to remember your message.

Using “I”, “we” and “our” involves the audience as if they are on the journey also, and if we are involved, suddenly things become much more memorable.

Using personal experiences, personal stories and memorable examples is a good start

There are plenty more approaches, but do avoid making stuff up.

It can be very obvious and can sound false to the audience.

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 6: To Feel That You Really Believe Your Message

If your voice lacks energy and emotion, your audience will tune out.

So ask yourself, what emotion do you want your audience to feel?

Interest? Excitement? Curiosity?

Whatever it is, you then need to convey this emotion in your voice.

It sounds like an obvious presentation skill, but just thinking about what you are saying and how you would like the audience to feel it very powerful.

So many presenters just present like they are “going through the motions”.

An audience needs and expects more.

Honing Public Speaking Skills through Audience Connection, 7: You Staying Connected From Start to Finish

There is no point having a great, memorable first 45 seconds and then revert to a complex, irrelevant message for the remainder of your presentation.

A great colleague of mine uses the analogy of a “travelator” (those flat moving stairs you see in airports) when giving a presentation.

The audience needs to step on the “travelator” at the beginning with you and move with you through your presentation and gets off the end with you.

They need to walk away from your presentation knowing what they should do, think and feel as a result of listening to your entire presentation.

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 by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash)

 

pitch range voice musical instrument

Why Pitch Range is Vital to Public Speaking and Presentation Success

When it comes to public speaking and presenting, you need to think about your “pitch range”—the range of notes you give to your voice to keep your audience engaged, interested and motivated. Here’s a brief pitch range overview.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

pitch range voice musical instrumentImagine this.

You’ve just arrived at a musical concert.   You wait to be entertained by the musician.

The pianist arrives on stage and starts to play.

But he starts playing by using only two notes – C D!

You wonder what’s going on, you’re definitely disappointed and then, as the performance continues in the same vein, you become completely frustrated and you tune out entirely.

Now switch the focus from music to speaking.

The same principle applies.

If you want to engage an audience when you speak, you need to think of your voice as an instrument and you need to use your range of notes (pitch range) to connect with your audience.

If you don’t, you will simply bore the pants off our listener!

Using pitch range is necessary to get the audience to sit up and listen.

So firstly, how do we hear the pitch range (notes) in our voice?

Simply, start at your lowest note and just like a scale of a piano, hum gently and slowly up your vocal scale – the notes should be getting higher and higher! give it a go.   This is easier to explain by doing than writing!

How do you use your pitch range – how do you make your voice an instrument?

I always think it’s useful to firstly think about the meaning of your message.  What do you want the audience to think about and feel?

Once you decide on this, the emotion in your voice (be it interest, positivity etc.) will follow.

Pitch variety will follow once you are really thinking about, and connected to your message.

Two ways to vary pitch

  1. Going from low pitch to high pitch when stating contrasts.
  2. Build up your pitch in steps to build momentum.

Things to remember about sustained pitch

A sustained period of high pitch:

  1. Can put people on edge
  2. Can motivate your audience
  3. Can indicate sarcasm
  4. Can indicate light heartedness

A sustained period of lower pitch:

  1. Can be soothing
  2. Can indicate seriousness
  3. Can be boring!

What are you aiming for? Be sure to know what’s possible when you decide on your pitch and pitch variation for your talk.

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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Elocution Lessons for Adults

Are Elocution Lessons for Adults Back In Vogue? Yes, They Are!

There has been a rise in elocution lessons for adults, according to recent studies

According to a new study by thetutorpages.com website there seems to be a soaring demand for elocution lessons for adults.

The report shows that elocution teachers have received more enquiries than teachers of any other subject in recent years.

Let me share with you the findings—it makes interesting reading.

Reasons given for the rise in interest in elocution lessons for adults

Some quotes from people seeking training

I have a strong accent and often the first impression people have of me when they hear me talk is that I’m thick. I want to improve my elocution and tone down my accent as I think it may hold me back in my career.

 

I am beginning to get tired of the reaction I get when I open my mouth and although proud of my roots I am wondering if I should have some elocution lessons in order that I am taken more seriously.

 

[I’m] looking for promotion but feel that my language skills are holding me back. I am from South East Asia and speak Mandarin and English. I’d like to improve on the clarity and tone of my speech, soften my accent…

What type of people are interested in elocution lessons for adults?

A high proportion of the requests come from professionals looking for a way to improve their career prospects, including

Thoughts from speech and elocution tutors about the surge in interest

There are a lot of pressures on people to try and improve all aspects of themselves….everyone is fighting for jobs and positions and employers have the upper hand in that they can pick and choose.

 

A lot of people I work with want to develop skills in presentation and communication as well as speech and articulation. It’s about how they put themselves across and whether they can make a clear point.

 

One factor behind the rise in requests for elocution coaching was The King’s Speech, the film starring Colin Firth as King George VI, who sought assistance from a speech therapist to help him overcome his fear of public speaking.

So are we seeing a return to the days of Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle?

Where ambitious people were denied opportunities because they spoke?

In this competitive job seeking world, it could very well be the case.

Food for thought, indeed…