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Month: June 2020

How to Improve your Public Speaking- a Puppy’s View

Any of my clients will tell you that I always emphasise the importance of preparation for speeches and presentations.

I like to research and prepare well for everything. So, when we decided that it was time to get a new puppy a few weeks ago, I went into full preparation mode. We are first-time puppy-owners, so it was important to get this right.

I drew up my list of what characteristics the puppy would have. Two elements were essential.

  1. The breed needed to be quite small
  2. We didn’t want a very lively breed

But, as Robert Burns said, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”

We fell in love with Millie on sight. As a cross between a Labrador and a Cocker Spaniel, she is not small, and is definitely very lively. In this case, my preparation was in vain…..

I have noticed similarities between puppy parenthood and public speaking. Click To Tweet

However, in these past two weeks I have noticed similarities between puppy parenthood and public speaking. Let me explain.

  1. It is all about Millie

Millie has taken over our world. Everything we do is viewed through a puppy lens.

In public speaking, it is all about the audience. All of your content should be looked at through the audience lens.

All of your content should be looked at through the audience lens. Click To Tweet

We have adapted our kitchen area to make sure that it is puppy-friendly. As a speaker, you need to adapt your content to make sure that it is audience-friendly. Is your content relevant to this particular audience?

  1. Boredom is the enemy

A bored puppy is not good. When Millie gets bored, she gets into mischief and nothing is safe!

How do you keep the audience focussed when there are so many distractions in their environment? Click To Tweet

A bored audience is also not good. If you are presenting virtually, it is even more of a challenge. How do you keep the audience focussed when there are so many distractions in their environment? Creating content that is designed to be relevant and engaging is a crucial part of the planning process. Build moments of engagement into every presentation, especially if you are delivering it online. You could use humour, anecdotes and quotes in your content. If you are delivering virtually, you could use polls, breakout rooms and the chat function. Keep your audience listening, engaged and interested.

  1. Tone matters

We are training Millie to behave and we have noticed how responsive she is to our tone. When we want to encourage her, we add extra emphasis to the phrase “GOOD GIRL Millie”, and if she starts to pull on a slipper or nip at our shins, she hears a very firm “NO!” The change in tone catches her attention.

Speaking in a monotone is guaranteed to have the audience reaching for their phones and switching off from your presentation. Click To Tweet

As speakers, we need to add vocal variety to our presentation, so that we can catch the audience’s attention. Tone is one way in which we can do this, as well as pitch, pace and pause. Speaking in a monotone is guaranteed to have the audience reaching for their phones and switching off from your presentation.

When you are preparing your next presentation, think of Millie! Your audience is central to everything you do, from the planning to the delivery. Ignore them at your peril!

Contact me to find out how I could help you with your public speaking skills.

#UnlockingPublicSpeakingConfidence

Panic to Powerful Presentations- How To Use Pause for Impact

Person with finger over lips for silence

The Power of Pause

Read time 2.5 mins

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain

On Tuesday last, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was asked to comment on Donald Trump’s reaction to the unrest in the US following the death of George Floyd last week.

Trudeau’s reaction was a pause.

A very long pause.

21 seconds of silence.

Pause is a very powerful public speaking tool.

Pause is a very powerful public speaking tool Click To Tweet

In this blogpost, I will share 7 reasons why you should use pause when presenting.

7 Reasons to Use Pause when presenting

  1. It grabs people’s attention

When you are introduced as a speaker, instead of starting to speak straight away, try a pause for 3-5 seconds. The audience will be attentive, waiting to hear what you have to say.

Alternatively, try pausing during your presentation before you make an important point. The surprise silence will help the audience focus their attention on what you say.

  1. It builds anticipation

Have you ever noticed how there is a long, drawn-out pause before the winner of the Oscars, or Strictly Come Dancing, or some other show is announced?

The pause adds to the audience anticipation. Use it to your advantage in your presentation.

The pause adds to the audience anticipation Click To Tweet
  1. It adds drama

The pause contrasts with the rest of your speech or presentation.

Imagine that you have been telling a story when you use the line “We waited three long days to get the test results”

Now imagine saying the line “We waited three….. long….. days…. to get the test results.” See the difference? 

  1. It allows you time to gather your thoughts

Perhaps you momentarily lose your train of thought. Or perhaps you have been asked a complex question in the Q&A session.

Pausing allows you time to think before continuing to speak. If you watch the video of Justin Trudeau, you can see how he almost speaks, but stops himself, during the 21 seconds. He worked hard to create an answer that he believed was appropriate.

  1. It allows your audience time to absorb your message

We are sometimes so familiar with our presentation that we forget that it is new to the audience. Pausing allows them time to reflect on what you have said and absorb your message. You could even prepare them for the thinking time by saying “Think about that for a moment” – and pause.

Pausing allows your audience time to absorb your message Click To Tweet
  1. It reduces filler words

When we pause, it slows us down. When we slow down, we are less likely to use filler words like “um”, “ah” “so” and “like”.

  1. It demonstrates confidence

Have you ever noticed how some people are uncomfortable with silence? Instead, try “owning” the silence by being calm, composed and in control. A smile helps too!

It can be difficult at first to get comfortable with pause. When you are at the top of the room, or on a stage, the audience expects you to speak. But when you master the pause, you will discover that it  will be a powerful tool in your public speaking toolkit.