Public speaking takes many different forms. You may have written out a speech or presentation that you have to give in front of your co-workers and/or your boss. Maybe you know that you want to talk to a significant other about something important. No matter what type of presentation, you may intend to say things one way, but your audience may get something entirely different.
One pattern I often observe when watching presentations or talks, is how people emphasize their words. Some words are spoken very softly, some with a strong emphasis.
Getting louder or softer when you speak is natural. No one want’s to sound like a monotone robot, right? But how do you know when to emphasize certain words, and what words should be emphasized?
Saying keywords or phrases in a natural way on stage is a very effective technique when trying to get your point across. When I hear speakers fluctuate their volume in a random fashion, nothing seems to stick out. Then there are the people who have keywords set, and when they hit those words, they punch it. This makes me a little turned off, and the message might come across less authentic, and pushier.
However, when I listen to people in regular conversations, they use volume in a normal manner and emphasize the right words naturally. When we speak to people one-on-one, we might not think about how we are saying things.
But why do things change when it’s our turn to talk in front of a group? All of a sudden, when all eyes are on us, it is different. It’s as though when we are presenting, or speaking to a group of people, we become self-conscious, and then start to think about saying things in the wrong way. Then we realize everyone is looking at us, and we need to say something. So we say it, but it comes out wrong. Everyone is still looking, and things get very awkward.
Fret no more! There is a solution.
There are a few small tricks that you that will help you learn how to emphasize the right words at the right time. Small tricks with big results.
Here are five things you can do today to find the right tones for the right words.
1. Record and review.
The best way to evaluate your use of word emphasis is to videotape your presentation and review it. This can be as simple as someone recording you on your phone, or as dynamic as a tripod and camcorder. Whatever your setup is, make sure that the audio is good quality. You want to make sure you can hear yourself clearly in the recording. Listen to how you emphasize your words. Does it feel natural? If certain parts don’t feel natural, keep adjusting. If you are practicing in front of a crowd, you ideally want to also record the reactions of the audience members.
2. Listen to the voice in your head.
Next time you have a talk or speech to practice, try finding a quiet place. Make sure it is somewhere that has no distractions. Then get comfortable and read the speech to yourself. Read it and listen to the voice in your head. Notice the rhythms and tones that come naturally when you deliver the material in your own head. Note how it sounds, and what words you naturally put emphasis on. This is how you want it to sound when you give your talk out loud.
3. Talk it out with friends.
Sometimes it is not easy to find a quiet place to practice. The solution is to practice in a location with noise. Call a friend and ask them to get coffee. Sit down with them over a cup of Joe and recite your speech as if you are having a casual conversation or telling a story. Take a sip of your coffee, internalize a section, then say it like you mean it, in a regular voice across the table. If your friend asks a question or interacts, it is a good indication of how your audience might react.
4. Let someone else read it out loud.
Sometimes you are simply too close to a speech that you are creating and you need to hear it read out loud by someone else. When you listen to someone else go through your material, pay attention to the way they inherently deliver certain words and phrases, using certain tones. It’s a good idea to ask them to read it to themselves one time, so that they are somewhat familiar with the content. Then ask them to read it out loud — you’ll be surprised how much you pick up from hearing your words spoken by someone else.
5. Practice and front of a group.
It is amazing what a crowd’s reactions can tell you about your speech. Things that you think are funny may not come out as funny, while things that weren’t intended to be funny will make the crowd laugh out loud. In order to get a good sense of how a speech is received, I always recommend giving a presentation in front of a larger group to get their collective reaction. You can also prep your audience by telling them that you are looking for comments on your vocal variety and word emphasis. If your audience is aware of your goals, they can tune in and give more specific feedback about areas that could be in greater impact.
You want to give a presentation or speech like you would to someone in a one-on-one conversation. It’s that easy. You see, we all inherently know how to be expressive, but when we get in front of people, we forget.
Try these simple tips and watch your speaking skills improve by multiples. Remember that the best way to become a better speaker is to speak more. So keep looking for opportunities. Using tonal variety in an effective way is one of those skill sets that you will always be working on improving. Pay attention to how you say certain words, and do your best to emphasize words in a natural way to leave a greater impact!
Ryan Foland, a public speaking expert and the Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Ryan and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.
Learn more about Ryan at RyanFoland.com
Connect with him on LinkedIn or send him a message.
75% of us have a fear of public speaking. So if you find speaking difficult, the good news is you are not alone with that!
Traditionally, a fear of public speaking was associated with standing in front of an audience, speaking, but today, as we venture into a world that is post pandemic, the fear of public speaking is vastly different. Now, there is the fear of speaking on Zoom, Whatsapp, or any other arena via the internet.
In this article I will outline three easy steps that you can take to speak with confidence, anytime and anyplace. So whether your next speaking gig is in a bricks and mortar venue or transmitted over the internet, you don’t need to let nerves get the better of you.
Here are my top tips on how to speak confidently:
1. Practise, practise, practise, and then practise again
Ask your closest friend, a family member, whoever you feel most comfortable with, to be your guinea pig to practise on. When it comes to speaking, the more you can ‘do it’ the sooner you’ll begin to feel more comfortable with it.
One thing to mention here, is notice that I didn’t say ‘practise makes perfect’ – you do not need to be perfect when speaking, in fact, people respond best to people, so the more authentic that you can be, the better.
2. It’s time to discover your ‘power pose’
A power pose is literally what you’d expect it to be – a pose that makes you feel powerful. Think ‘posing like a Superhero’, and you’ve pretty much got your power pose.
When you change your state physically, you change your state mentally, so shoulders back, sit with your spine straight, and lift your chin a little. If you are standing, keep your feet apart, and arch your chest a little. One great tip is to perform your power pose as you listen to some uplifting music, something that makes you feel like anything is possible. Do this right before your performance and then as you walk on stage, or log onto that Zoom meeting, you’re hopefully going to feel incredible.
3. Pace yourself, don’t race yourself
It’s only natural when you are feeling nervous, to want to get the thing ‘over’. Or, you want to appear eager and confident, and in trying to give that impression, somehow you rush your way through things. Take a deep breath, hold it, let it go, and do this before you start speaking.
Be aware of the present moment. Focus on your feet on the floor and when you feel yourself rushing, bring yourself back to your body. This is called grounding, and it can really help to focus you. The more you try to rush things, the more you’re likely to forget something. Think about it, how many times have you gone to the Doctors, only to come away and say to yourself ‘Oh, I totally forgot to mention it’, because you were rushing because of anxiety. So remember, if you feel your mind or mouth running away from you, go back to your breathing, and focus on the ground beneath you.
One great tip is to get yourself into a really relaxed state, do your breathing exercises for a few minutes, close your eyes and connect to the ground beneath you and when you feel deeply relaxed, place your forefinger and thumb together and squeeze. This creates what we call an ‘anchor’. You can then trigger this anchor right before your presentation, putting yourself right back in that emotional state of feeling calm and grounded.
Hopefully these three tips will help you with your next speaking opportunity, remember, people relate best to people, so just be yourself, and place your attention on your audience. When you do this, you take the focus on your needs and think about theirs.
Christopher Paul Jones is a phobia expert who specialises in fear of public speaking and fear of flying
Last week I was super fortunate to have a great chat with Alex Antolino.
Alex is the Creative Director Typeform, one of my favourite interfaces that we’ve used at Voice Science™ since 2018 . Alex also a filmmaker, graphic designer and late-night D.J and as you’ll see a powerful and vibrant conversation partner.
You’re in for such a treat because we had an epic conversation about how to speak confidently in public and at work.
Alex is one of the most inspirational and artistic branding experts that you can find out there!
He’s passionate about “creating honest brands that make people feel,” something that really resonates with me and my brand!
Watch the Intro to our Conversation here
So when Alex asked me to appear as a guest on the very first Typeform Video podcast to talk about how to communicate in public and at work with more confidence, I lept through the roof with excitement.
We had a great chat and uncovered lots of strategies together that you can apply from today.
What was so special about this interview was how conversational it became. While you can listen to lots of strategies from me in the interview, I encourage you to focus in on Alex’s communication. He brings such vivacity, authenticity and positivity to the camera so you can learn a lot from him too.
So now it’s time to share the strategies with you!
To watch our conversation, scroll down the page where I’ve embedded the full interview for you. I hope you find it rewarding and powerful.
Alex and I had a great time collaborating to make this strategic video podcast scroll down to watch the full interview.
Thanks so much for watching and see you soon at Voice Science.
As I always say, communication is like string theory, it’s the foundation of everything, so if you’re not sure which direction your communication needs to head in to improve, it’s really worthwhile getting a proper science-based assessment by our team to really understand your needs and to identify powerful and relevant goals.
Make sure you subscribe, give this video a thumbs up (that’s your way of smiling at me) and be sure to keep up to date with daily communication tips over on our Instagram and Facebook pages.
Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself and don’t forget to freely express yourself.
Want to be more effective at public speaking this year? Start with these four ways of increasing your relaxation and confidence with audiences.
Think of the speakers you admire in business, politics, religion, social settings, or on the TED stage. Were any of them not relaxed or confident?
As speakers, we tend to make a fundamental mistake in our speeches and presentations: we believe it’s our content rather than we ourselves that moves audiences.
And so we prepare in the wrong way, giving all our attention to what we’re going to say instead of how we’re going to say it. So as you prepare for this year’s crop of reports, pitches, lectures, meeting remarks and formal presentations, consider the following four ways of being a more relaxed and confident speaker when it comes to reaching and moving listeners.
Are you too focused on delivering information when you speak? To establish rapport and gain influence with audiences, download my essential cheat sheet, “Great Speaking? — It’s About Performance Over Content!
Think In Terms of Your Public Speaking Audience Not Your Content
You speak to audiences to get your message across, naturally. Yet it’s easy to believe that the individual points you’re about to make are the essential components of your talk. But it’s the story you’re telling that matters. The “information mindset” may mean you use your preparation time to go over and over the material, convinced that if you’re successful at delivering every point just so, nothing can go wrong.
Apart from lack of spontaneity, proceeding that way means you’re turning the entire public speaking equation on its head. Once you’ve gathered and organized your material, your time needs to be spent thinking of your audience. That means who they are, what their needs are, what references will resonate with them best, and the action you want them to take as a result of your talk.
When you’re in that mode when you speak, you’ll probably find yourself referring to points you hadn’t planned to speak about, or bringing in stories or examples that occur to you in real time. That’s a speech that’s more organic, enjoyable, and ultimately more convincing to an audience.
Improve Your Comfort Level Speaking in Public
To be that kind of speaker, you need to be comfortable with audiences. And this is an area that too many speakers ignore completely.
As I tell my speech coaching clients: whoever you are and whatever you speak about, you should spend less time thinking about your content, and more time learning how to be relaxed in front of a roomful (or an auditorium full) of people. Paradoxically, the more you stop self-monitoring and consider others’ needs, the more comfortable you’ll feel in your own skin.
Think about all this for a moment: Your preparation for a presentation is usually literary, i.e., you take notes, build a PowerPoint deck with bullet points, or write out a full manuscript. But your actual speech is given in the oral arena of performance, where your job is to move listeners. The more natural, authentic, and comfortable you are doing that the more effective a speaker you will be. And your level of confidence that you can succeed in these settings will soar.
Make Diaphragmatic Breathing a New Habit
If you’re not familiar with diaphragmatic breathing and the reasons it helps in public speaking, it’s time to learn. Breathing for speech is a more active form of breathing than breathing for life. It involves gaining a fuller reservoir of air to project the voice; and in particular, it requires controlling your exhalation since voice is simply exhaled air acting upon the vocal folds.
Here’s how to breathe diaphragmatically. A question clients frequently ask me is, “When should I breathe this way?” The best answer is, “Always.” That is, you should develop the habit of diaphragmatic breathing. Not only will it help you in public speaking situations. You’ll also more efficiently get oxygen to your heart and your brain.
Once you’re there, you’ll simply feel more in control of your breathing—which can easily become too rapid and shallow if you suffer from speech anxiety. The result is a calmer and more controlled oral performance, leading directly to more confidence.
For Effective Body Language, Move with Purpose
Now let’s bring body language into the picture. Body language is on everyone’s mind when speaking, usually tied to the question, “What should I do with my hands?”
But there’s a lot more going on in terms of the physical expressiveness that’s needed for public speaking. In fact, a good way to think about body language when you’re speaking is to simply ask yourself, “How can I give physical expression to what I’m saying?”
The body is a fundamental tool of communication, amplifying and making what you say more powerful. And of course, body language works best when it’s closely tied to what you’re saying. To speak this way, discover my 5 key body language tips of public speaking.
If you think along these lines, you can begin to move with more purpose. Consider using a different part of the room or stage with each main point you make, for instance. Think also about where you stand in relation to your audience—are there times you want to move closer to them, or closer to the screen to point out an aspect of your visuals? You can even use the actor’s knowledge that “down-center” (or the point closest to your listeners) is your strongest position for your all-important opening and closing.
Even apart from your public speaking appearances, practice moving with more purpose in your daily life. When you walk, move like someone who is actually going somewhere. Gain a sense of your connection to the earth—how it feels to walk on the ground and move through space. The body is often a source of lack of confidence in speakers. Be more mindful and comfortable in this area, and you’ll own another key to being a more confident public speaker.
Finally, take every opportunity that comes your way to get up and speak. The more familiar you become with speaking to groups, the more you’ll be able to access and display your authentic self—the person the audience came to hear.
Public speaking can help build your network, foster relationships, get new business, and increase your social media presence.
I never intended to get involved in public speaking until my life took a dramatic turn: I was out of a job and struggling to make ends meet as an entrepreneur. I started looking for new ways to gain exposure and expand my network. I researched successful entrepreneurs in my industry and came to one simple conclusion: Successful people are confident public speakers.
I wasn’t comfortable speaking in front of large audiences. Keenly aware of my thick Polish accent — I moved from Poland to New York at 23 — I never believed I could be an effective speaker in America. But I’ve never walked away from a challenge, realizing early on that invisibility is a fate worse than failure.
Public speaking has allowed me to take my career to an entirely new level, granting access to people and places I never had before. I don’t claim to be a public speaking guru or a particularly gifted orator, but I have delivered a number of memorable keynotes, training seminars and talks around the globe.
Public Speaking Creates Opportunities
Public speaking leads to wealth. It will help you build your network, foster relationships, get new business, get job offers and increase your social media presence.
Most people are not comfortable speaking in front of large audiences: 74 percent of adults suffer from speech anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and I’m certainly one of them. I get anxious every single time I get on stage or in front of the camera.
Taking a proactive approach to developing public speaking skills can boost your confidence quickly. As your speaking confidence multiplies, you will become less anxious. I’ve also read “How to Develop Self-Confidence by Public Speaking” by Dale Carnegie, which made me realize one simple truth: It’s not about you, it’s about your content. So take a baby-step approach to developing your confidence.
Here are a couple of tips to improve your public speaking game that have worked for me when I was just getting started.
1. Know Your Topic Inside and Out
Ken Linder notes on Entrepreneur.com that, “If you talk about things you know and are passionate about, that resonates with people.” He also mentions that you know more about your topic than your audience, so it’s your job to educate them.
Confident speakers develop their expertise by knowing their topic thoroughly. The work you put into research will be noticed and appreciated by your audience. Avoid picking topics that you don’t feel strongly about — it’s a sure way to ruin your self-confidence.
Confident public speakers deliver convincing arguments by absorbing as much relevant knowledge as possible. Read, study and memorize key concepts. Accumulate interesting facts, stories, quotes and examples. These will boost your confidence because you’ll have richer and more interesting content to present.
2. Prepare by Practicing
No successful public speaker became famous without preparation. The best prepared themselves by speaking for hours in front of mirrors or for a few select friends. Some renowned speakers simply speak at an empty room to hone their skills.
Toastmasters International suggests practicing with a timer and allowing time for the unexpected, as unforeseen events can distract nervous speakers.
Visualize yourself delivering an inspiring speech. Rehearsing the speech in your mind creates a type of dry run which increases your confidence for the actual event.
3. Use Visuals and Powerful Wording
Using visuals like slides, colorful images, graphs, videos and headline-heavy copy draws your audience’s attention like a magnet. It also takes away pressure and attention from your actual delivery. Draw your audience’s attention from you to your content.
Even the most dynamic speakers use imagery to keep audiences on their toes. You want to inspire, inform and entertain by delivering a high energy message. Your audience wants to use the content being presented for their benefit, so make dramatic statements to convey your message convincingly. Pepper your speech with power verbs to inspire audiences.
4. Enter With Boldness
Boldness and hesitation will elicit very different responses from your audience. Hesitation creates obstacles, boldness eliminates them.
Start your talk with boldness to appear larger and more interesting — the first impression is critical. Play a video, tell a story or a joke or make a bold statement about your material — just don’t start with a boring agenda.
Boldly entering the stage will also have the magical effect of camouflaging your inexperience and oratory deficiencies. Boldness gives you presence while the timid fade into wallpaper.
5. Learn From Other Public Speakers
Study from the best to improve. Follow your favorite public speakers on social media and sites like SlideShare. I also watch Ted Talks to learn from the best speakers in the world.
Attend live events to learn from and emulate your favorites. Observe how they use their hands to add emphasis to key points. Note how they raise and lower their voice to keep you focused on their message. The best public speakers are masters of inspiring an audience. Study their movements and delivery style to feed off their confidence.
6. Be Open to Receiving Feedback
Both positive and negative feedback can improve your confidence. One of the most painful experiences is watching recordings of yourself. Although I’m uncomfortable every time I view my performance, I push myself to do it and to find places I can improve.
Watch yourself on video and observe your overall delivery. What seemed to rouse the audience? Watching yourself from a third-person perspective can accelerate your growth. Negative reviews help you pinpoint areas for improvement. Even though negative feedback might sting your ego, these points of view usually boost your skills in the long run.
Being open to criticism helps you develop thick skin. Grow your confidence from both positive, inspiring feedback and negative, constructive feedback.
7. Speak Less to Say More
Brilliant public speakers use words economically to make an impact. Remove all unnecessary fillers. Respect your time and the time of your audience. Avoid hesitating unless you want the audience to reflect on some point.
Stick to your speech plan, refrain from adding points on the fly and speak only on your desired topic. Do not add extra examples and stay away from straying off course.
Addressing a crowd/public may seem difficult at times, however, it is essential that you know how to stand in public and speak without fear because at some points in our lives we would find ourselves ready to address a crowd.
Here are the secrets to public speaking;
1. Be knowledgeable about your topic– This is a very important factor to speaking in public. If you do not know about the stuff you are speaking on you may find yourself unstable while on stage. Knowing your topic gives you undoubting confidence.
2. Dress confidently– Before you can stand out to be confident, there ought to be an inner confidence intact and this confidence can come as a result of your looks. If you are not properly dressed there is a tendency to experience low self-esteem while on stage.
3. Pratice– Always practice before you climb on any stage to speak, practice gives you confidence knowing that you already know what you want to say.
4. Tell Stories– People get intrigued when they are being told stories, especially stories that they can relate to. Story telling makes the keeps a sort of communication between the speaker and the Audience.
5. Know your audience– Knowing your audience will go a long way to help you speak confidently because you create an atmosphere that they can relate to and understand.
6. Do not dwell of your mistakes– It is not a crime to make mistakes while speaking, the truth is that your audience might not even notice unless you draw their attention to it. When you make mistakes, correct yourself and keep speaking.
7. Avoid filter words- avoid using words like [emm. hmm. ] words like this create unnecessary attention to the speaker. These filter words can be replaced with a pause instead.
Confidence is the most crucial thing that is accessed and observed by the SSB crew. The leader has to stay confident to motivate his team as the engine has to stay firm to pull the train. Our GTO tasks and personal interview scans your confidence level. Speaking confidently is a problem for many candidates that takes them down. But it can be brought to the required level. There is always a solution to a problem. So to solve this problem, we are here with some common remedies that need smart and dedicated efforts to equalize your confidence level.
1. Participating In Lecture Or Debate Competitions – The best way to make yourself confident in public speaking is to participate in debate, discussion, and lecture competitions. These competitions require prior preparation and a confident approach with a controlled mind to perform well and will remove your hesitation in speaking in public. It is always said that “Great speakers always rules”, for examples PM Narendra Modi, Hitler, and many more.
2. Speaking In Front Of The Mirror – The easiest way to escalate your speaking skills and confidence in front of a group of people is to speak in front of the mirror, watching yourself in the mirror. It can be done at home and need the least number of resources. But dedicated efforts are required to get expected results. Make eye contact with your image in the mirror and talk to yourself.
3. Reading The Newspaper Loudly – The basic problem that aspirants encounter in SSB is that they find it hard to speak fluently in English in SSB, especially in interview and GTO tasks. Reading the newspaper loudly at home will further improve your English speaking skills and will help you in speaking efficiently in SSB.
4. Talking In Social Groups – Talking in social groups will make you confident in putting your ideas and thoughts in front of a group of people. Another merit of it is that it will improve your listening skills and your way to respond to it confidently in your group. Social groups teach you how to frequently convert your thoughts into words and how to respond and react positively to others’ arguments.
5. Correct Gestures: You should have the correct style of delivering a speech. You have to keep their interest till the end so that they listen to you attentively. Try to end and begin the speech appropriately. The first impression is the best impression. Also, avoid sudden endings. Your gestures should be natural and impressive. Avoid acting like a clown on the platform. Your errors can be spotted by delivering your speech before your parents and ask them to note down your faults. Next time you try to improve your speech. This will make a steady improvement.
6. Practicing by Speaking In Front Of Friends – Your friends can be a source of practice to increase your confidence. Speak in front of them will make you feel comfortable and they can easily point out the problems that you are making in your speech. They will provide the best platform for you to bring up your confidence level in public speaking.
Conclusion – Confidence is required to live life like a leader and it matters a lot when it comes to becoming an Armed Forces Officer. The first way of interaction of the officer with the team is by effective and confident speaking and that is deeply analyzed in the SSB. It just takes the first step to bring the confidence up, once you conquer shyness, you can speak out your thoughts freely without any hesitation in front of the crowd staring at you.
Simple, practical tips for improving at public speaking.
Posted April 9, 2013
- What Is Stage Fright
- Find a therapist to overcome stage fright
1. Believe in your capacity to improve.
You don’t need to believe you can become the next JFK or MLK but you do need to believe in your capacity to improve your skills.
People generally do better if they have a growth mindset (you see yourself as a work in progress) vs. a fixed mindset (you believe your capacities are fixed).
Check – Do you have a growth mindset in terms of your public speaking skills?
2. Get confident at reducing phyiological overarousal.
You’ll do a better job at public speaking if you’re not in fight / flight / freeze mode while you’re giving your talk.
Learn how to calm yourself physiologically by practicing slowing breathing, which will in turn reduce your heart rate.
Try this free app from Azumio which uses the camera on your phone to measure your finger pulse (it’s amazing!).
When you notice yourself feeling stressed or anxious, fire up the app and practice slow breathing while you’re taking the measurement. Watch your heart rate slow down in real time as slow down your breathing.
This is a great way to become confident in your ability to calm yourself physiologically.
Be aware that your heart rate is naturally faster when you’re breathing in and slower when you’re breathing out.
3. Practice looking at faces in the audience while you’re talking.
People who are anxious tend to either avoid looking at the faces of people in the audience, or fixate on the faces of people who look bored.
Learn to look for signs of interest as well as signs of disinterest. Make eye contact and smile at individuals in the audience.
When someone smiles back, return your gaze to that person later in your talk.
4. Approach vs. Avoidance Goals.
Avoidance goals are things like “I want to avoid blushing” or “I want avoid feeling anxious while I’m talking.”
Approach goals are things “I want to communicate my 3 key points clearly so that everyone in the audience leaves the talk understanding those points.”
Approach goals are more useful than avoidance goals.
Identify what your approach goals are.
5. Video yourself.
People who are anxious often avoid objective performance feedback. If you believe you have the capacity to improve (see tip #1) objectively reviewing your performance will be less threatening (because you can correct any weaknesses.) Don’t try to improve through just willing yourself to improve. Actually take steps that are likely to result in improvement such as videoing yourself practicing or working with a coach.
Making some short youtube videos (just a few minutes each) is a great way to practice and produce something useful from that practice.