Get Emotional

What do you think of when you hear the word emotional?

  • Crying?
  • Laughing?
  • Yelling?
  • Arguing?

The idea of being emotional can connote being out of control. While that is sometimes true, it also refers to engagement and excitement. And that is something you want your listeners to feel.

As a speaker, you want your audience to be emotional, but there are many ways to show emotion without being out of control. Likewise, there are many ways to evoke it.

Creating passion in an audience means your presentation will have more impact and stay with the listeners long after they are gone. It increases the likelihood that they will buy into what you are telling them or make the choice to use your services over someone else’s.

Passion

What is important to you about your idea? Why should your audience care about it? What makes is better than other, similar products on the market?

Don’t leave your audience wondering about any of the questions. Answer them in your speech.

Show that you care about your topic by being so well prepared that your words come naturally rather than from a piece of paper on the podium. This allows your audience to learn what excites you. Enthusiasm is contagious!

Facial Expressions

Make eye contact with people in your audience, one person at a time, and smile when it feels natural. Most people react to a smile with a smile of their own which is a powerful brain trigger for endorphins.

Try scanning the crowd and stopping with your gaze on one person each time you change topics or make a transition.

Body Language

Your body language can stoke excitement in an audience. Don’t pace back and forth, but do move around, engaging different sections of the listeners, focusing more of your attention on one area of the group when you are closer to them before moving to another.

Use gestures to convey emotions and excitement about your project. Step forward when you want to emphasize an important point.

Visuals

Keep your visuals simple. Slides should be clean and bright, easily understood. Use no more than a half dozen words per slide. Look for compelling images that will have an emotional impact. There shouldn’t be so many words on your slide that you feel compelled to read from it.

Word Choice

Active verbs and descriptive adverbs will evoke more attention. Look for ways to use them in your speech.

Tell your audience that you’re excited to be here, not just happy. And then tell them why and what excites you.

Emotional Need

Consider why your audience is there. What do they hope to gain — especially emotionally — from you? Insight? Knowledge? What do you want them to leave knowing or believing? That your product is the one they should choose? Why? What makes it different?

In closing, let me tell you why emotional buy-in from your audience is so important: it means you can influence people when it comes to making decisions.

A friend of mine recently went looking for some flooring to install in her new home. She visited a big-box store and two independent dealers. The second independent dealer won her business. Members of his family worked for him. He had his products in his own home and his dog spent the day at his company. All of these spoke to him as a person and helped him make an emotional connection with my friend. Although he wasn’t making a speech, per se, he was giving a presentation. Without even knowing it, his own enthusiasm for his business and his product helped make the sale.

Before your next presentation, try thinking about how you can evoke emotion in your audience. Let me know what you did and how it worked for you!

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Gain Confidence with Public Speaking

Even the most experienced public speakers can get a bit nervous before a presentation. Practice and experience go a long way, but the human body will almost always have a fight-or-flight response to the idea of putting itself up in front of an audience.

There are ways to deal with stage fright that will help you become a better speaker who is more at ease in front of a group. Let’s look at a few.

Before the Event

  • – A lot. You don’t need to memorize your speech word for word, but you should be so familiar with the order of your talking points that you don’t need to think about them. You’ll be able to speak more confidently and without notes if you know your main points cold.
  • – Test your equipment. Make sure any equipment you’re taking with you is in good condition. Check bulbs, batteries, and any accessories you have. If possible, visit the room you’ll be speaking in and be sure you understand how to connect your equipment to theirs.

The Day Of

  • – Spend some time exercising the day of your presentation. Exercise will work off some of the pre-talk jitters and give you confidence by boosting your serotonin levels. If you can’t get in a solid workout that day, try a brisk ten-minute walk. Drinking plenty of water will help stave off dry-mouth, too.
  • – Remember Power Posing? Body language is important and taking a powerful stand before your speech can give you a strong, positive mental boost.
  • – It’s typically easier to speak to a group of people you know than a room full of strangers. Get to the site early and spend time talking with people who will be in the audience. A friendly face, or several of them, will make your time on in the spotlight much more comfortable. Engaging your audience beforehand also helps keep them focused on you because you are someone they know. It’s much easier to tune out a stranger.

Getting Started

  • – If you’re comfortable with it, starting off with a joke is a great way to break the ice. Alternatively, we have talked about beginning a speech with a surprising or interesting fact about your subject. Either of these will peak your audience’s interest and make them want to hear more from you.
  • – Make eye contact, especially with the people in the audience who are attentive and indicating their support by smiling, nodding, or appearing especially focused. Their support will boost your comfort level.
  • – Act confident, even if you don’t feel that way! Research has shown that appearing confident helps create confidence where it doesn’t exist. In other words, fake it ‘til you make it! The audience will see confidence even if you aren’t feeling.

In Closing

Most importantly, remember why you are there. It’s not to be the best or most perfect speaker ever. It’s to share some information, make a few points, and encourage others to support your ideas. Leave them with some great ideas and ways to take action, and you will have done your job well!

Let me know how you have gained confidence in your public speaking. I would love to hear about it!

 

 

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Being Positive Makes Your Speech More Successful

It’s easy to forget that having a generally positive outlook on life affects us in many ways. We talk about getting up on the wrong side of bed or seeing the glass half empty or full.

It’s also easy to let a bad mood dictate how our day will go, how we will treat other people, and how we are perceived by our friends, family, and colleagues.

It naturally follows, then, that a positive attitude reflects well on us when we are speaking to others. So what can we do to “be of good cheer” more often?

Let’s take a look at some time-honored advice on the subject that has held up over the decades for very good reasons…the ideas behind them work!

Make a Choice

Fake it till you make it” is an old cliché that actually works! There is a great deal of research that proves that a sincere smile elevates mood and lowers stress, including one study mentioned at Forbes.com.

A genuine smile, scientifically known as a Duchenne smile, has much more impact than a forced one.

Guillaume Dechenne was a mid-19th century French neurologist who made the observation that a genuine smile uses muscles around both the mouth and the eyes, where as a forced one does not engage the eye muscles.

Use of the mouth and eye muscles when smiling, it was noted, can impact brain waves which in turn, may elevate mood.

Practicing a genuine smile when you aren’t in the best of moods can change your mindset and improve your outlook on the world and those around you. This will come through to others whether you are in one-on-one conversations, or addressing a group of people.

Make a Difference

Volunteering to help others can give our own emotions a boost. We sometimes hear people say that they “get more than they give” when they volunteer. They are usually referring to the gratitude that comes from those you are helping.

We also know that volunteering can help reduce stress and calm our nerves.

A few years ago, I spoke with a friend whose wife had left him on Christmas Eve just a year into their marriage.

He went to his church and spoke with his pastor who listened to him as he talked and cried, then as part of a suggested escape he sent him out to deliver meals that the church had prepared for those who couldn’t afford to feed themselves.

My friend reported that the act of helping others during his own crisis boosted his spirits and helped him get through the most difficult night of his life.

It’s Your Turn

The next time your day gets off to a less-than-ideal start, take a moment to refocus yourself and think about what you have to be grateful for. Then try an out-loud laugh to get a genuine smile on your face. You should feel at least a small difference right away!

Seek ways to give back to your community by donating your time to a local project or cause. The good you give to others will come back to you many times over.

I encourage you to join the conversation on the wide variety of simple techniques you can use to improve your speaking skill through my weekly newsletter.

Let me know what you think!

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Using A Catchphrase In Your Presentation

If one of your goals is to leave your audience with something to remember, try using a catchphrase. Catchphrases, also known as slogans, are brief memorable phrases or sentences that carry a message about a particular product or service.

Do you recognize these?

  • Yes We Can
  • I’m Lovin’ it!
  • Just Do It!
  • Got Milk?
  • Every kiss begins with Kay.
  • Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
  • The Few. The Proud. The Marines.

What do you notice about them?

Brevity

None of these are more than half a dozen words long. They use basic words, are easy to understand and easy to remember. They trigger instant brand recognition far and wide. And they sometimes pop into your head for no apparent reason!

Emotion

In just a few words these marketers can create a strong emotional reaction. Just hearing them can make you feel hungry, cause you to smile, or feel national pride.

Kay’s Jewelers’ “Every kiss begins with Kay’s” evokes feelings of warmth and romantic love.

Hungry? These are all emotions that stimulate a strong reaction in your brain, which also makes them memorable.

Repetition

Another reason these catchphrases are memorable is because we encounter them all the time. On the radio, television and in print, they are everywhere. They easily fit on billboards and can be read in their entirety by drivers on the interstate.

Market-Conscious

The catchphrases listed above are for national brands. If your business is a local one you may want to target your city’s intended audience more specifically.

For example, “Storing Sunshine in Sacramento Since 2014” would be a good one for an alternative energy company located in Sacramento. If your brand reaches beyond a single city or has plans to you might go with “Storing Sunshine Since 2014”.

It’s best to stick with more general phrasing if your intended audience is a larger one.

Call to Action

The California Milk Processor’s Board asks if you “Got Milk?”  Most people who drink milk respond mentally with an equally-enthusiastic “Yes!” If the person doesn’t have milk it sets up a mental note to buy milk next time you are shopping.

“Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” is the Beef Industry Council’s slogan. For beef consumers it causes a reactionary agreement or confirmation as well as mentally filling in a slot on your upcoming shopping list and dinner menu.

Your turn!

Try writing a catchphrase yourself.

  1. – Grab some paper and write down a few words to describe what you do.
  2. – Which ones stand out? What do you want your audience to know and remember?
  3. – Pick some key words and try playing around with them.
  4. – When you come up with a phrase, repeat it several times. How easily does it roll off of your tongue? Can you remember it the next day without having to think too hard about it?
  5. – Play around with a few phrases until you settle on one you like.

It’s a lot of fun to play around with slogans and catchphrases. Let me know what you came up with!

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How to Develop An Effective Speaking Voice

Welcome back! I hope you’re getting ready for a wonderful holiday season. I’m here today to talk with you about your speaking voice.

When giving a presentation, people are often focused on how they are dressed and what the audience will think of their appearance. Their voice frequently takes a back seat and only becomes noticed when they start talking and don’t like what they hear. It’s easy to let nerves and emotions overwhelm you and have a negative impact on how you sound.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can improve your voice and use it as an effective part of your public speaking tool kit. What happens when you are asked to give a presentation or know you need to have a difficult conversation and are nervous about it?

Fighting Your Nerves

The first thing that many people experience is butterflies in the stomach and a feeling of nervousness, often well in advance of their speech. The earlier you gain control of your nerves, the more confident your voice will sound when the time comes for you to speak.

One way to do this is through breathing. Whenever you feel nervous about your upcoming talk, try this: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, and then breathe out through your mouth for four seconds. Controlled breathing helps lower your heartbeat and calm your nerves. Use this technique shortly before you take the stage to steady your nerves and voice.

Know Your Material

Preparation is an important factor in developing a memorable speaking voice. Be sure you know your material inside and out and are able to talk about it without your notes. This kind of in depth knowledge allows your brain to relax and your voice to sound steady and confident when you speak.

Hit the Brakes

Next is speed, a problem for many less-experienced speakers. Talking so fast that people can’t understand you is one of your body’s responses to fear. Your brain wants you to get through the speech as quickly as possible in order to get you off the stage and away from being the focus of a crowd. It’s related to the fight or flight affect you are likely familiar with.

Practice and experience are your best weapons against speed. When you are rehearsing, try this: say a series of numbers aloud and write them in the air with your finger as you talk. This is about the speed at which you should speak. Work on matching this speed with the pace of your words as your practice.

Adjust the Volume

Finally, adjust your vocal volume to the size of your audience. Next time you speak to a group, pay particular attention to the audience and their body language. Is anyone in the back straining to hear you? Or is your voice too loud for the people in the front? If you are using a microphone, you may need to adjust it. If not, make use of the space to move around as you talk and make sure you volume allows everyone to hear you.

Take a look at Robert Love’s tips on how to use the proper volume.

I would like you to try out the four-second breathing technique we discussed above. You can use it to calm your nerves in any stressful situation, not just public speaking. The more you use it, the better you will be at calming yourself before a public speaking event.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. And if you have more tips on improving your speaking voice, I would love to hear them.

Send me an email and tell me your tips!

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Giving A Persuasive Speech

If you haven’t already, at some point you will find yourself needing to give a persuasive speech or presentation.  Whether you want to pitch your product or service or convince a civic group to take a position or action on a controversial topic, the guidelines are the same.

giving-a-persuasive-speech

Remember The Basics

In your zeal to be a persuasive speaker, don’t forget the basics of great speaking.

Know your audience: Why are they there and what do they need? What you want them to know or do when they leave?

Speeches are made to be spoken, not read: Know your material well and make eye contact with the people you are talking to.

Keep visual aids simple: No busy slides. Just a few words, if any, per slide. Don’t use them as cue cards for yourself.

Know Your Goal

Knowing your audience helps with knowing your goal and using that information to plan an effective speech.

Will your audience be open minded? Hostile? Skeptical? Will they already have a basic understanding of the subject or will they need to be educated?

In many instances, it will be a mix of all of these.

Use Emotion

After you explain the basics of your topic, use emotive language to inspire your audience. You can tell an engaging story that illustrates your point. Try using action-oriented verbs and descriptive adverbs in your speech, especially in storytelling.

There is a great deal of science behind how people can be persuaded, including appealing to their emotions.

Be Believable

It’s important that your audience believe in you in order to get them to believe what you are telling them. Do they know who you are and what your motives are? If they believe you are entirely self-serving, they won’t be eager to buy in.

Speak from the heart and tell them why you, personally, are supporting your cause or what drives you in your business. They need to know that your goals are similar to theirs and that your cause or service is worth their time and effort.

Use Scaffolding

Just like a building under construction, your presentation needs structure. It should follow a logical line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion you want your audience to support. An outline is a helpful tool to use in developing the flow of your speech and order of your arguments.

State what you believe or want and then provide supportive arguments or examples that underscore your belief. Make it easy for your audience to mentally follow your logic from beginning to end.

One good strategy is to open with a compelling statement, such as “When you leave here today, you will understand why our services will turn your prospects into long-term clients that will bring their peers with them.”

It’s Your Turn!

Do you have a persuasive speech coming up or one that you gave recently that can be improved?

Sit down with your speech or subject and create an outline. Start with an opening statement that will capture the audience’s attention. Create a list of possible points you can make that will direct them to conclusion you want to leave them with. Then craft a closing sentence that restates your main point.

Use the comments section below to let me know how it turns out!

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