Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Your words and body language must be in sync with your message.

 

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I AND I – NOT I

When we speak, we send two kinds of messages to our audiences. While your voice is transmitting a verbal message, a vast amount of information is visually conveyed by our appearance, manner and physical behavior  – why because our actions often speak louder than our words.

Research shows that more than half of all human communication takes place nonverbally. When we speak, listeners base their judgment of us and our message on what they saw, heard and felt. Our audiences often remember what we were doing when we said what we were saying.  In public speaking, your body can be another very effective tool for adding emphasis and clarity to your words.  It can also be your most powerful instrument for convincing an audience of your sincerity, earnestness, and enthusiasm.

Your physical actions must agree with your verbal message.  If your actions are distracting your body language can defeat your words. Whether the purpose of your presentation is to persuade, inform, entertain, motivate or inspire, your body and the personality you project must be appropriate, not only to what you say but also, to how you say what you said. Your words and body language must be in sync with your message for it to resonate with your audience.

If you want to become an effective Public Speaker, you must understand how your body speaks. While you can’t stop sending your audiences nonverbal messages, you can learn to manage and control the negative and to accentuate the positives.  With practice, you can learn how to make your body speak as eloquently as your words once you understand your body language and your actions speak louder than your words.

 “Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.”                               ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Your Eye Contact

Your eyes can also be your Control Device

20180621_232252When we speak, we involve our listeners with our eyes to make our presentation more direct, personal and conversational.  One sure way to break that communication bond is by failing to look at your audience.  No matter how large your audience may be, each listener wants to feel a sense of personal connection with you the speaker. With your eye contact, you can amplify your voice and the conversation exponentially.

In some cultures, the act of looking someone directly in the eyes is a symbol of sincerity. In several studies, it was noted that speakers who established eye contact were judged to be more truthful, honest and credible than those who did not.  By looking at your listeners as individuals, you can convince them that you are interested in them and that you care whether or not they accept your message. This technique of making eye contact with every audience member as you speak of your is often referred to as the art speaking one too many. With practice, it can be mastered.

Eye contact can also help overcome nervousness. When you look at your audience and realize most are interested in your message, that instant feedback can decrease nervous tension if any exist. Not only do your eyes send vital messages while you are speaking, they also receive feedback to let you know how your audience is reacting to your message. By watching your audience’s reactions, you can make immediate adjustments to your presentation.  Your eyes can also be your  “Control Device”

After your voice, your eyes are the most powerful tool when communicating. Use them to amplify your message. Engage your audience with eye contact. With time and practice, you will develop the ability to read your audience reaction as you speak and develop the ability to tailor your words accordingly. Develop your eye contact and will become a better communicator and a more effective Public Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Make a U-Turn​

Public Speaking is an Art not a Science.

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 Make a U-Turn

Public speaking is an art and not a science, however, over the years, I have heard many coaches caution – Watch your “I To You Ration” – the number of times you use I vs you, especially when telling your personal stories.

While it is OK to deliver your personal stores in the first person, there comes a time when you should make a U-Turn, simply because if you don’t, history has shown you risk losing your audience. Even a personal speech should not be all about you, it should also be about you and you, your audience.

Much of what we share in our speeches is personal. Things we did, things we saw, things we felt. As a result, we all have a tendency to overuse the pronoun I, even when a better connection can be made with your audience if you were to Make a U-Turn. Turn some of those “I” moments into “you” moments to include your audience in the picture or scene you are developing. If you do,  you will make a better connection with your audience.

An effective technique when considering a U-Turn is the use of dialogue or questions to engage your audience. Here is one example from one of my speeches:

LOST

  • “Have you ever lost your glasses, when they were right here (in your hands) or perhaps it was your wallet! And as if that was not bad enough, you lost your mind and ask one of your kids – the smart one – did you see my wallet? Only to receive the answer that would make any saint a sinner – Where was the last place you left it. Daddy!!”……

Try turning some of your scenes into a silent conversation between you the speaker and you the audience. Make a U-Turn after I moments. That too can also be very effective. Don’t focus on ratios, focus on your art in the context of your speech. Observe the difference in the connection you are making with your audience as you continue to develop your art and the art of making better U-Turns.

 

 

 

 

Your Quotable Quotes

We should speak to be repeated

20180617_171815One of the many statements I heard early in my speaking career that inspired me even to this day is, we should speak to be heard, we should speak to be understood, we should speak to be repeated, not only by ourselves but also by others.

Since the beginning of time, words of wisdom have been said by famous speakers and even mere mortals like yourself.  Many timeless words of wisdom can also be found in the Bible, and also in the wisdom of our parent’s frustrations in their moments of tireless parenting. While it OK to borrow from their wisdom and Quotes which encouraged, inspired and entertained us all, we should also create and constantly update a file of our own with your own words of wisdom. Who knows, one day they too may become as famous as those we all know and love.

When delivering quotes, it is a good idea to refer to Martin Joo’s 5 styles of communicating: Frozen, Formal, Consultative, Casual, & Intimate which were covered in my previous postings. Many quotes are best delivered and received by audiences in the Frozen and Formal registers:

  1. Frozen:     Formal and elegant style of speaking. Ask not what your country etc.
  2. Formal:     Used to address audiences…  I have a dream etc….

Your delivery will determine your degree of success, however, your quotes must be strategically placed in your speech. How and when your Quote is delivered, is very important. Keep your Quotes short. The shorter the better. Here are a few I love.

Don’t find fault. Find a remedy!  Henry Ford. (You too have said that many times.)

Anger is just one letter short of danger.   Proverbs 14:29

The Lord protects the innocent and the foolish and those of us who are twice blessed, (Big George – My Dad – RIP).

 

     

How to Develop Vocal Strength

Proper Breathing is the Foundation of a Healthy Voice

Cork2In speaking, breath control is of supreme importance. Therefore, all speakers should give some time and thought to the development of their natural speaking voice. In order to find your natural voice, you will first have to correct your breathing. To secure control of your breath, the following physical conditions must be maintained.

  1. Correct Posture
  2. Free (loose) neck, throat and shoulder muscles
  3. Correct inhalation of breath
  4. Controlled emission of breath

Begin by taking deep breaths – In through the nostrils, out through the mouth. Proper breathing is the foundation for a healthy voice and control over nervous energy that can make your voice quiver.

One of the best exercises to strengthen your voice is the cork exercise. All you need is the cork from a bottle of wine. Start by placing the cork lengthways in your mouth. Read a passage from a book. Read a  poem or try speaking with the cork in your mouth. The idea is to get the speaker to begin strengthening the muscles we all use daily when speaking. Breathe naturally as you speak. 

To take this exercise to the next level, cut a groove into the side of the cork as shown above. Bite into the cork, to let the groove fit into your upper front teeth. Repeat the same readings you did earlier, however, this time you are opening up even more. The objective is to achieve as much clarity as possible as you speak with the cork lodged in your teeth. I would highly recommend you do these exercises in private.

Do these exercises for two to three minutes per day. After a month for sure you are going to see a marked improvement in your diction, enunciation, and resonance. Your voice is your instrument.  To keep it turned, every now and again, put a cork in it.

Breaking the Ice

Icebreakers are not one and done

IMG_1980 (1)The first speech a new member of Toastmasters or any organization delivers is called the Ice Breaker. Ice Breakers give speakers the opportunity to begin speaking with confidence on familiar topics. It also provides them the chance to start developing their model for the preparation and delivery of future speeches.

Icebreakers provide a variety of choices. You may introduce yourself to your fellow club members. You may wish to speak about what brought you to the realization that you needed to improve your public speaking skills. You may choose a topic or cause you are passionate about.  However, the allotted time for an icebreaker is four to six minutes. A time limit that should be respected.

That set time limit has a specific purpose. It is designed to condition speakers to focus on a structure, economy of words as well as getting a feel for working with timers without having to concentrate on their devices. With time, you will begin to feel your green, yellow and red lights when you are on the platform. Therefore, discovering your speaking rate is very important. Calculate the number of words you speak by merely reading a passage is one standard method. For more information on that subject go to the resources page of  http://www.davidbrookstexas.com

For my icebreaker word count, I use the following manner:  (4 to 6 -1 =5)  5 times my wpm (words per minute) giving time for pauses and laughter.  My word count should be between 600 and 650 words. For speeches that are 5 – 7 minutes I use. (5 to 7 -1=6) 6 times my wpm which gives me a word count of about 750 to 780 words.

While there is no single recipe or formula for preparing a great speech, there are a few fundamental ingredients that can make your presentation memorable. Focus on your format. As you continue to become more comfortable with your structure for icebreakers, in particular, you will notice a natural tendency to approach your future speeches in the same manner as you do icebreakers. Icebreakers are not a one and done.  In time, they will be your default model for preparation and delivery of your speeches. The more you practice them, the better you will become as a speaker.

The following are a few additional tips for preparing icebreakers.

Where I was, where I am and where I’m going is one of those “hip pocket” icebreakers you can give at any time with very little preparation. If your scheduled speaker is absent, take the opportunity to practice. Keep an Icebreaker evaluation form handy at all times.

Make your opening remark a Foundational Statement. It is the foundation on which you will build the rest of your presentation.

Your greeting to the audience should follow the make a point, tell a story or tell a story to make a point format. For your Vignettes V1, V2, and V3. Remember, less is more. Use no more than three Vignettes. V1 -Transition -> V2 -> V3 -Time permitting.

Establish a phrase in V2 that will be the memorable phrase or statement of your speech. That statement is called your Magic Moment. Every speech must have one.

Signal to your audience you are closing on your V2 if you have only two Vignettes, If you have a V3 do it on the V3 – i.e., My Fellow Toastmasters.

Restate your foundational statement at the beginning of your closing and summarize your main point as you proceed with a call to action if appropriate.  Don’t thank your audience, your audience thank you for your presentation. Mr. or Madam TM is fine.

Stand and deliver is an excellent delivery approach for beginners. Move the material you prepared from your head to your heart and the hearts of your audience. Let your words dictate your body language. Build on the speaking skills you already have to establish your formula or receipt that you will use as you prepare and deliver your future speeches.

How do you Listen

Listen to Understand and Speak Effectively

Shh!! SilenceHow we listen, is an essential skill all speakers must develop, however, it is a skill that can be developed with practice. At almost every Toastmasters meeting, members and guests get the opportunity to answer questions. Even when some guests decide to take a pass on the Table Topics questions, we usually get visitors at the end of the meeting to at least comment on what they heard, saw and felt at the meeting. Yes, we make sure that no one shall escape speaking at a Toastmasters meeting. We listen to understand and speak effectively,

While most members and guests tend to focus on answering the questions, I have found that if you use the Table Topics segment to practice and develop your listening skills, even when you are not the one called upon to answer any of the questions, you may find this portion of the meeting, extremely beneficial to your development as a listener and speaker.

As a first step, we should try to analyze what we do subconsciously when someone else is speaking. Many of us begin preparing our answer, just waiting to begin speaking. The experts claim that most likely we learned this behavior as children and perfect it as adults. When this approach is used, the result is all forms of miscommunication, misrepresentation, and misinterpretation in our responses. Yes, all the misses. Relationships are also affected by this approach when communicating in business and social circles.

An excellent approach I found to correct this method of listening is to try to understand the meaning behind the question. Paying attention to body language used by the speaker will often help clarify the meaning. I am sure you have heard it said many times, actions speak louder than words. Shut down the internal noises in your head so the incoming messages from the speaker can be received clearly. Focus on the body language used by the speaker. Again, the experts claim the spoken word accounts for only seven percent of our communication.So happy I am not an expert.

It is quite natural to have some anxiety when faced with questions. Using your standard mechanisms to control nervous impulses is a good starting point. Breathe! Where there is breath, there is life. Stabilize your heart rate. Experts believe that deep breathing is the right approach to move the noise from your head to your chest. Give it a try. It should not hurt if your focus is breathing and listening. You should feel calm.

Begin your response by using what I call a silent icebreaker. Set the mood by using your body language to express how you were affected by the question. Use facial expressions silently, as you playback what you believe the speaker meant when he said what was said. You have the six emotions to play with here. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust.

Once the speaker has stopped speaking, it is now your turn to speak. Paraphrasing, what you heard is a good place to start. If there is agreement about the understanding of the question, you should be off to a good start. By that time, you should be at ease to address what you saw and felt. Now that is exactly why it is so important to work on your listening skills. It sets the stage for a good answer. What you saw and felt along with your words and body language, should satisfy any Table Topics Master at your club meetings or at those testy Table Topics sessions at home.

The Entertaining Speaker

Your Isims & Schisms

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Keep Your Humor Handy

Are you an entertaining speaker? We all love to be entertained. We seek out entertaining books, movies, music as well as all kinds of different ways to satisfy our natural urge for entertainment.  Keynote speakers who are both informative and entertaining are in high demand. They are often called to speak at weddings, conventions and social events. This is why it is important as a speaker to be entertaining.

Entertaining speakers offer diversions from the stresses of everyday life. Dr. Ralph Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters famously said: “We learn best in moments of enjoyment”. When we laugh, cry or engage in whatever happens to be our chosen form of enjoyment, we are entertained, however, there is this misconception by many speakers that you have to be funny to be entertaining.

Speakers all know, it ain’t necessarily so. Sure, some entertaining speakers rely heavily on being funny. Conversely, some speakers rely more on life experiences. They keep notes about stories and events from their life and the lives of others.   The good entertaining speaker doesn’t rely on telling jokes, they add humor to their speeches. They are the first to advise that you leave the joke telling to the comedians until you decide to become one.

It is for this reason, I always recommend keeping a story-file or log of interesting stories that cross our path daily. They may be your personal stories or stories that touched you in some manner. You will find that your best humor is those “off the cuff” remarks you say or hear daily. Write them down.  Try them out every opportunity you get. Make them your “isims”, My friends call mine “Henry-isims”. Over time, you will find that some will work better than others. I call those that fall flat, your “schisms”, however, as you begin to score more “isims” than schisms, you will realize that you are well on the way to becoming an entertaining speaker.

Twenty – Ten & One Belly Roll

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Writing humor is no joking matter.  One of the most difficult things to do is to try to analyze humor, to determine why it will make an audience laugh.  Laughter itself is an emotion.  It is an emotion built up to a certain pitch, then released suddenly to create a surprise.  While there are some subjects that lend themselves easily to humor, a combination of acting funny and good humor will often earn you a nod of approval from your audience and judges.

A good barometer to keep you on track is your laugh count. Whenever  I am  asked what is my formula for preparing a successful  five to seven humorous speech, my answer is  always the same  – 20-10-1 – In a five to seven minute try to fit at least twenty laughs, ten chuckles and at least on belly roll into your content.  Laughter should also begin from the first minute of your presentation.

I arrived at this 20-10-1 formula, after a World Champions of public speaking asked me to keep count of the number of laughs he received as he delivered a keynote address. I was so fascinated by the experience, I then did the math and, arrived at an average laugh count of at least twenty laughs, ten chuckles and one belly roll. After testing my theory and found that although more is better at least a -20-10 -1- laugh count works just fine.

There are three techniques which will help you increase your laugh count.  The first is tagging.  Tagging prolongs the laughter by just adding a word or two to provide additional information to a previously delivered humorous line. Your tag may have no real connection to the main humorous bit. It might just simply be a funny addition which makes the laughter continue.

The second is “speech brighteners”. Speech brighteners can generate a “quick laugh”. “Speech brightener” requires no setup and does not interrupt the flow of your speech. It merely emphasis a point or provides a change of pace. The whole idea behind a speech brightener is to catch you audience off guard and to achieve one of the most important elements of humor, surprise. For example: “Believers, love your enemy. It will drive them crazy!”

The third is wit; the ability to make clever off the cuff remarks. No one can predict what or when humor will generate laughter, however an unexpected chuckle from your audience can be an opportunity to get witty.  A witty saying may produce very little but they all add to your laugh count. I offer you my 20-10-1 formula, however, keep in mind all audiences differ, their reactions are not always the same and it is your tags, brighteners and wit that count.

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Stand and Deliver – Move with a Purpose

Movement keeps your audience engaged.

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If as much as 60 percent of our communication is nonverbal, and our entire body communicates more to our audience than the spoken word, it is important that we include in our preparation how we stand and how we move when we are on stage or the platform.

Movement attracts and keeps your audience engaged. Your entire body communicates its own visual message to your audience. Your posture and how you move or even sit, communicate to your audience whether you are confident, alert or if you are in command of the platform. Sitting and speaking will be addressed in another article. This article is about how to stand and deliver and moving with or for a purpose.

Some speakers prefer to stand and deliver while others may choose to use the stage for different purposes. When asked the question, which one works better, my answer is always the same. It depends on the type of speech you are delivering.  When you are standing behind a lectern or podium, obviously stand and deliver would be ab better choice, however when you are on the platform or stage, a combination of both, stand and deliver and moving with a purpose – for a purpose produces better results.

Before you begin your presentation, it is important to decide how you are going to use the speaking area. Becoming familiar with your speaking area to decide how it can be used to your advantage is very important. Your movement should always be in sync with the content of your speech. Some speakers even position parts of their speech at different locations on stage.  At times they would stand and deliver. Move to take their audience to a different time and place. Move to make a connection with the audience as they make a point, or demonstrate a particular action or activity in their speech.

How ever you plan to move on stage takes practice and preparation.  Whether you choose to stand and deliver or move with a purpose or for a purpose, remember why you are on the platform. You are there to connect with your audience. You are there to deliver a message. You are there as the messenger. The stage is yours for a few minutes. You can own it, you can work it or you can use it to your advantage. Whatever you do, never forget to make your movement part of your preparation. If you do, your audience will surely remember what you and your body said, long after you have finished delivering your story or message.

 

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