In the Toastmasters world of public speaking, timing is everything. The 5 to 7-minute speech is our Gold Standard. Icebreakers are usually 4 to 6 minutes long. Fast speakers speak fast; however, not everyone happens to be a fast listener. To ensure speakers remain within their allotted time when delivering an icebreaker, it is best to write a 5-minute speech, for delivery in 6.30 minutes. For a 5 to 7 minute speech, write a 6-minute speech for delivery in 7:30 minutes.
The average speaking rate of most humans is between 120 to 140 words per minute. Therefore, it is important for every speaker to calculate his or her own personal speaking rate. In order to find your personal speaking rate, select a passage from a famous speech. Read it as if you are delivering that speech using pauses and vocal variety. Read for one minute. Time yourself. Your word count will be the number of words you read from the beginning of the passage to your last word at the one-minute mark. If your average rate is 130 words per minute, your word count for an icebreaker should be approximately 130×5=650 words – average.
Once you have calculated your speaking rate, you should gather your Readability Statistics. When using MS Word Readability Statistics for Writing, you will need to have grammar checking turned on. Microsoft Word’s readability scores are based on American audiences and Word’s grammar checking. These statistics give speakers an idea of the readability of their content. They also provide general rules that can be useful when editing your written material.
The Readability Statistics facility in Microsoft Word includes:
Counts: Count the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences in the document.
Averages: Averages the number of sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word.
Readability statistics: Calculates the percentage of passive sentences in the document, Flesch Reading Ease score, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
A grade level of 5-9 is recommended for general readers. A grade level of 7-12 is acceptable for industry and technical writings. Remember as you edit, you are writing for the ear and not for the eyes. Edit to make your speeches conversational. Stay on time. That is and will always be the Toastmasters Gold Standard.
Great speeches like a beautiful picture have many attributes in common; a strong opening, a compelling story, a magic moment and a memorable closing. They start strong. Some “break the ice” with humor. Others prefer a powerful statement. History has shown, the stronger your first impression, the easier it is to keep your audience’s attention from your beginning to the end.
All speeches must have a rhythm to convey your message. Speakers should use a mix of short and long sentences to communicate that message.
Clear and concise language makes it easier for your audience to understanding the story and go with the flow of the speech.
All sentences should be short enough for delivery within one breath.
The words used to communicate each sentence should be rich with imagery and emotion to take your audience on a journey into the heart of the story.
Total Body language matters as much as the spoken word. Use body language to move the story forward. Audiences can subconsciously notice even the smallest body movements that are not coordinated with the spoken word. Your smiles and eye contact can go a long way to convey your message. Speakers should practice the delivery of their first smile or first words to establish a connection with your audience. When audiences like you, they are more inclined to believe you.
Great speeches should all have a magic moment; a memorable event that recalls some detail of your speech. The positioning of your “Magic Moment” is also very important. It should be the highlight of your speech. It should appear to be natural and not over-rehearsed or disconnect to your message. Your speech should flow like a conversation with each sentence perfectly crafted for your audience. Nonverbal communication you receive from your audience should flow like a silent conversation between you and your audience.
Speakers should strive to allow their speech to feel like a personal invitation for each member of your audience to participate. It should capture their attention while validating your message with looks or smiles. If you can achieve all of these qualities while thoroughly entertaining your audience, you will have a great speech worthy of being delivered to audiences for all occasions.
Your words and body language must be in sync with your message.
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
When 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.
In the world of public speaking, tell a story to make a point or make a point by telling a story, is a well-known secret that has helped many speakers with their development, however, how you tell that story will often determine if your audience gets the point.
The story you chose to tell must have left a significant impression on you when you first heard it. Perhaps it made you happy, sad, angry, surprised or even disgusted. You may have also learned a very important life lesson from that story. Whatever it was that made you choose that particular story to make it worth repeating, to make your point has to be rediscovered if you want that story to have a similar effect on your audience.
You may have heard that story three days, three months or even three years ago. However long ago you hear that story, it must have left a profound impression on your life. The challenge is for you to share what you learned with your audience. If you can get your audience to want to take some significant action at the end of your talk, speech or presentation, then you and your story have made your point.
What’s your story? As you tell your story, try to focus on giving your audience that same experience you had when you first heard your story. As you tell that story try to transport your audience to that time and place when you had your experience. Take your audience with you to relive the experience. Take them on that emotional journey you had with word pictures as only you can recall.
Our lives are the sum total of the stories and experiences, we have lived, relived told and retold. When we make a point by telling our stories, or tell our stories to make a point, we are sharing some of the most intimate and unforgettable experiences we have, heard, seen and felt in our lifetime. By sharing those experiences, you are letting your audiences know who or what we truly are not only as a speaker but also as a person.
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:
“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.
There is a revolution taking place in the world of presentations. With the growing popularity of webinars, new technologies, and Microsoft PowerPoint 3D tools, presenters are now challenged more than ever to improve their speaking skills, their PowerPoint presentations and to find new ways to engage audiences effectively, over different platforms.
Many of those challenges facing presenters, especially those delivering webinars are not new but they may be magnified when presenters don’t have the luxury of being face to face with their audience. So what it the secret to keeping your audience engaged for the entire duration of your presentation? Whether you are face to face or remote, if you make your point, the power of the presentation and not your PowerPoint, you will be successful on any given platform.
Any executive or professional will tell you, the higher up the corporate ladder you go, the more important your presentation skills will become. As a Technical Support Analysis, I saw firsthand presenters embrace new technologies, adding the latest bells and whistles available, while their presentation seemed to scream silently, what is the point? Conversely, the presentations that were not too fancy not too plain, always seem to work best with audiences. The point of those presentations quickly became a conversation with those audiences.
There are many tips and tricks posted on the internet on how to modernize your presentations. Whatever you choose, remember it is not all about you; the messenger, it is all about the point and not the PowerPoint. So here are a few strategies that can help you with your next presentation.
Know your main point – the key message you want your audience to receive and retain long after the presentation.
Get to the point early and stay on point – Be the messenger – not the message.
Be classy not too fancy. Us the 10-second slide rule. Slides should not take more than 10 seconds to read and understand.
When presenting webinars, personalize your presentation. Use the list of attendees to engage your audience by name.
Close with a powerful statement that includes your main point – Do not end with the question – Any Questions? – Any Questions? – Then Your closing!
Finally, to add power to your point, you must add energy to your words. Keep in mind “Silence Sends The Message” – A little silence adds power to your point and your PowerPoint!
If you are not afraid of the outcome, you will not be nervous.
A little nervous energy can show that you are passionate and even care about what you are presenting. Too much nervousness will detract from your performance, however, I do believe that if you are not afraid of the outcome, even when competing, you will enjoy the experience and nervousness will not be a factor.
Here are 10 tips we all can use to control nervousness:
Know The Room:Become familiar with the speaking are before you are called to speak. The view from the speaking area is quite different from the audience view or the view from the back of the room.
Know You Audience:Meet and if possible greet some of your audience as they arrive. This can help you connect with them as you look out into the audience.
Know Your Material: In the words of Dr. Ralph C Smedley “A prepared speaker should not be nervous”. Nervousness will increase if you don’t know your material.
Relax:Get on your feet, stretch a bit before taking to the stage.
Visualize yourself giving your speech: Harbor positive thoughts. Visualize yourself being successful and you will be successful.
Think Positive:Audiences don’t want you to fail. Smile and they will smile back at you.
Don’t apologize:Don’t call attention to any of your slipups. Those slipups may very well have gone unnoticed.
Focus on the message:When you focus on the message, your attention moves from your anxieties outwardly towards your message and your audience.
Turn nervousness into positive energy:Add vitality and enthusiasm to harness your nervous energy.
Gain Experience. Experience Builds confidence:Grasp every opportunity you get to SPEAK. Grasp every opportunity you get to EVALUATE others. That is the key to becoming a better speaker.
One 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:
Frozen: Formal and elegant style of speaking. Ask not what your country etc.
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).
Great speeches are not written – they are Rewritten!
Your Foundational Statement will often determine success or failure when writing your speech. That statement can be a short sentence or catchy phrase. It can be a humorous or provocative statement, shocking facts or rhetorical questions. Whatever you choose, it should make your audience think, “Wow! – That’s interesting, tell me more.
Most speeches generally have an introduction, a salutation, discussion, and conclusion. Your introduction should grab your audience’s immediate attention. It should clearly identify where you are taking your audience. You should also try to make your opening relevant to your audience. Audiences are always more willing to pay attention if they can relate to your subject matter. While a salutation is always optional, if done well with sincerity, it can help you make a better connection with your audience.
Next, you should go into what I call the Discussion phase of your speech. Here is where you give your audience reasons to buy into your point of view with facts and figures. Be the expert by presenting your material with natural excitement, and strategically placed humor. Establish your Foundational Statement. Tell a story to make your point or make your point by telling your story. Personalize your speech. Use vivid language and remember the rule of threes when qualifying your references. Once you are sure that you have made your point, don’t repeat yourself, move forward. Get to the Conclusion, keep moving forward, You can recall later.
Telegraph your conclusion to let your audience know you are closing. This can be done with a simple phrase – “My fellow Toastmasters” – “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Summarize the main points. Repeat your Foundational Statement. Recall what you told your audience in your introduction and discussion phases. Finally, you should leave your audience with a call to action. If you are sure that your closing will leave your audience with a burning desire to take some action in the minute of silence after you have concluded, STOP! you are done, however, remember great speeches are not written – they are rewritten. Now you must edit your speech until you have a tight final copy that is ready for delivery.