the inspiration blog

What are the Public Speaking Must-Haves?

Posted on: June 2, 2013

For many, being an effective speaker is a mystery; for others, they feel fairly comfortable and think that’s all they need. Since speaking is the best way to get known as an expert and build your business, it’s important to really know how it works. Over the past 17 years of coaching public speaking, I’ve developed a thorough breakdown of everything necessary to speak powerfully. It can be categorized into 3 levels.

Level One – The Core Foundations 

  • Strong Content. It’s essential to know how to put together a great presentation – how to grab attention at the beginning, keep your audience members engaged both emotionally and intellectually, and move them to want to work with you or follow your call to action.
  • Comfort – turning nervousness into confidence. This is a curious skill, because when most people hit a new edge (for some, just speaking at all – and for others, it’s presenting in front of a much bigger audience or with higher stakes), then they get nervous – even if they’re confident otherwise. Other aspects of comfort:
    •  Knowing how to warm up for a presentation, and how to recover if you lose your mojo mid-way through.
    •  The inner mindset – how you treat yourself (are you critical? Fearful? Or self-accepting and caring for yourself?).
  • Effective Use of Voice.
    •  Clear Enunciation. Don’t make the audience struggle to understand you.
    •  No Fillers, such as “Um.” If these are largely present, they’ll undermine your credibility.
  • Powerful Body Language. This includes several areas:
    •  How to completely relax. Body tension will hurt your presence as well as your voice.
    •  How to stand. The right position will cause to both look and feel more confident.
    •  How to walk. Aimless wandering or pacing will hurt; deliberate steps and walks will guide your audience through your presentation.
    •  Gestures. Those hands aren’t just meant to dangle there!
    •  Facial expressions. These also help establish connection, while they bring out more  of your personality.
  • Connection. You simply must authentically connect with your audience in order to move them. There are 9 aspects of connection, 7 of which are pertinent to speaking, so it’s a long topic, but you need to begin with connecting with… yourself.
    •  Eye contact. Strong eye contact will cause every person in the audience – no matter how large it is – to feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

Level Two – Presence

Presence isn’t an intangible, and it’s not a pat answer. Here are the most important components:

  • Integrated Comfort and Connection. When you learn to easily get yourself into a state of being where you are both fully at ease, and also deeply connected with your audience (and with yourself!), you’ll be on your way.
  • Staying Fully Centered. Few people can do this under great pressure; those who can become leaders. Knowing how to breathe deeply is a good start – and many other exercises help with this.
  • Enhancing the Voice. This includes finding a more resonant, relaxed voice. It’ll then literally resonate more fully with your audience.

Level Three – The Dynamic, Charismatic Speaker

  • Advanced Vocal Dynamics. Mastering how – and when – to utilize and combine pitch, tempo, volume, pausing, enunciation variation, and tone will help you hold the audience’s rapt attention at all times.
    • There are also 4 powerful speaking styles, which you can use effectively (more difficult to describe in brief, so I’ll leave it at that).
  • Advanced Body Language. Beyond the basics, there is a deeper level of movement available to you. Yoga is a good start; movement techniques used by actors and dancers will take you even farther.
  • Mastering Emotion. Acting techniques will help you find a fuller range of emotion to express yourself and move the audience.
  • Charisma. While the above elements help bring it out (especially when they’re combined), this also arises from more advanced acting techniques.
  • Professionally Crafted Content. While the standards for crafting a talk work at all levels, to move to another level, the content is fused with emotions. That is, everything you say is deeply stirring or moving – no matter what the topic.

What level are most speakers at?

Unfortunately, I’ve found that the majority of speakers who don’t suffer from a lot of fear are somewhere around mid-level 1. That is, they feel somewhat comfortable, but still really need to master the essentials of body language and the voice. The sad part is that because they feel a little confident, they don’t get the help they need to really step up their game.

Want to learn these skills quickly, instead of taking years figuring it out yourself?

My training program, Claim Your Voice: Speak with Power and Presence, covers Levels 1 and 2. There’s less emphasis on content, which is easier to implement; thorough guidelines are provided for participants to apply themselves. The biggest difficulties in speaking lie in all of the other areas, which are far trickier and more nuanced.

Even if you’re doing okay right now, you may have little idea how much better you can be! When you transform your connection skills, body language, presence, and mindset, the audience will be completely yours.

If you’re ready to step into your  full potential as a speaker, you are warmly invited. Please go to http://www.ClaimYourVoiceNow.com for full details and to register.

And, if you’d like another perspective and hear me speak about it, watch a free video training at http://www.yourtruevoice.org.

–Jonathan Bender, MS, MFA, WholeSpeak  – http://www.WholeSpeak.com

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8 Responses to "What are the Public Speaking Must-Haves?"

Thanks for sharing such an informative Article. It doesn’t matter how many times you stand up to speak, when it comes to an audience, butterflies always come flying in your stomach to bring distraction.

Beverley,
Thanks for your thoughts. However, having coached speaking for 17 years, and working with countless speakers who declared they were surely hopeless and could never get over their butterflies and nervousness, I must kindly object. Butterflies can be gotten rid of – if you get help. I have found that when you learn practical techniques, including knowing how to warm up beforehand, and how to change the situation in the middle of the talk even, totally changes it. This is why I offer my Claim Your Voice course – because it absolutely can and will change. My word of honor.
Blessings,
Jonathan

I must add another resource to this conversation. While all the techniques offered here are certainly welcome, the most powerful thing I’ve experienced that affects voice, gesture, content, charisma–all the factors–in one fell swoop is what speaking coach, Gail Larsen, calls “being in the zone.” Taking her intensive changed my mind (and the butterflies in my stomach) and her book is great too. Transformational Speaking: If You Want a Better World, Tell a Better Story. Check it out!

Pamela, thanks for naming this. While this article talks about the particulars – because most people overlook some, or don’t realize that one is a weak spot for them – “being in the zone” is actually what I specialize in. It’s about how to prepare and warm up, and be with yourself and your audience, in a profound way – and much more.

Thanks for the resource – I’ve heard that’s a great book.

[…] What are the Public Speaking Must-Haves? (theinspirationblog.com) […]

Jonathan,
I am confident in my speaking ability, but I’m not sure how to get started. I currently speak at yoga studios and healing centers. Do you have any suggestions on getting started on a broader scale?
Thanks for all your work!
Chris

Hi Chris,
I think you’re asking for how to find venues – is that right?

If so, it depends on what you want out of it. Trying to get clients? What’s the goal? That’ll tell you where to go speak.

Also, I’d get coaching, from whomever you really like. Everyone can improve – both in terms of delivery and content. The most rookie mistake is thinking you don’t need help, no matter what level you’re at!

Hope that helps – and email me directly if you want more input.

Best wishes,
Jonathan

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