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Tips for Public Speaking

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.

3 Key Ways To Make Your Business Voice Heard

Businesses- particularly SMEs- can struggle to be heard among all the noise nowadays. Those who have a strong social media presence can carve out a spot for themselves. If the business doesn’t have the time or expertise to run their own social media campaign, they can hire someone to do it for them. But people buy from people. Therefore, face-to-face communication is crucial, and no-one else can do that for you.

Make Your Business Voice Stand Out and Be Heard

There are many ways in which you can make your business voice stand out and be heard. It could be your 60 second networking pitch, pitching to a prospective client or delivering a signature talk. Regardless of format, there are some key points that you need to consider.

Identify, Communicate and Present

Firstly, the speaker needs to identify their message clearly. They must then communicate that message in a way that is relevant, so that the audience understands and remembers it. Finally, they need to present that message competently and confidently.

stopwatch, clock, 60 second pitch
You are informing the listeners about what you do in a general way, rather than pitching for business. Click To Tweet

3 Ways to get Heard:

  1. 60 Second Networking Pitch

In most cases, you are informing the listeners about what you do in a general way, rather than pitching for business.

  • 60 seconds is a short period of time- definitely not enough to explain all that your business entails- so don’t include too much information.
  • Begin with an attention-grabbing opening. It could be a question, or a relevant statistic- something that makes the listener sit up and take notice, and listen out for who you are.
  • State your name and business name clearly.
  • Outline one aspect of your business, linking it back to your opening. It could be an explanation of what you do, or a short client story.
  • Show how your business solves the client’s problem.
  • Repeat your name and business name clearly
  • Don’t try to pack too much in- 150/180 words is plenty.
  • Check my website for details of upcoming workshops
  1. Creating a Signature Talk
Identify the audience, their level of knowledge and interest in your topic Click To Tweet

Preparation is key to an effective signature talk. This is where you can expand on your business story and go into more detail about the products or services you offer

Your first task is to identify the audience, their level of knowledge and interest in your topic

  • Identify the purpose of your talk: are you going to inform the audience? Persuade them? Is there a call to action?
  • Brainstorm all of the information on the topic, and then remove anything that isn’t appropriate for this particular audience or purpose.
  • Decide on your structure. Is it chronological? Cause and effect? Topical?
  • Try to group the body of the speech using the rule of three, as it’s easier for the audience to remember. If there’s one main point, have three subpoints. If there’s more than one point- have three. They can also be sub-divided if needed.
  • Decide on your opening. Plan this carefully, as you only have 30 seconds to get the audience’s attention. You could use a story, a question, a quote, a statistic, an image.
  • Have a memorable ending. You could summarise key points and have a strong call to action. There might be an opportunity to refer back to your opening statement, which creates a memorable conclusion.
  • If slides are relevant to your presentation, prepare those after you have prepared your speech.
  • Slides are useful if they help the audience understand your message, or if it makes it more memorable for them. Slides are not a crutch for the speaker to remember what they want to say! Images are always more effective than text, which should be kept to a minimum.
  • When everything is prepared- practice! Practice your content and your timing. Be prepared for things going wrong on the day- distractions; your speech being cut short; technology not working.
  • Focus on the audience, rather than on any nervousness you might be feeling.
    1. Using storytelling in presentations

We love stories. They are a very effective way of communicating our message- when they are relevant and told well. They need a clear structure to make it easy for the audience to follow.

 

The story can demonstrate very clearly the value of your product or service. Click To Tweet

The story can demonstrate very clearly the value of your product or service.

  •         Begin by setting the context and introducing the character. Outline their problem. It should be something with which the audience can identify. 
  • Highlight the pain caused by the problem.
  • Explain your role and how your product or service provided a solution for the problem, and the result for the client.
  • Make sure there is a clear link between what your product or service offers and the solution to the client’s problem.
  • If you are telling your own story, keep the audience in mind. It’s your story, but they have to be able to relate to it, or they won’t care about it.
  1.  

If you would like to find out more about how I can help you develop your business voice, email maureen@softskillsuccess.ie

Unlock Your Public Speaking Confidence

Padlock
Rosette prize

When we were asked to bring a prop to describe our business to last night’s Network Ireland Kildare Branch event, I didn’t have to think about it for very long!

I brought a padlock with me. Why?

So many people are trapped by their fear of public speaking.

Business owners attend networking meetings as ambassadors for their business. They need to communicate clearly in their networking pitch what they do , how they do it and for whom. Poor presentation skills can hinder that communication. 

Maybe their team members are held back by public speaking nerves from contributing at meetings or  avoid delivering work presentations, potentially stalling their career progress.

Or maybe it’s in a social setting- the father of the bride who is dreading the speech on his daughter’s big day. 

Public speaking is a skill, and skills can be learned!

We help individuals unlock 🔓 their public speaking confidence.

We provide presentation skills training that helps individuals to identify their message, create and deliver presentations that communicate their message clearly and competently. 

I was delighted to win “Best Prop” on the night. Thanks to Tara Lane from Centrepiece Rosettes for the lovely rosette prize! 

If you would like to discuss how we could help you or your team unlock your public speaking confidence, contact us for a no-obligation call

https://softskillsuccess.ie/contact/ 

 

 

Heading for communication skills

Are You Held Back by Fear of Public Speaking ?

fearful eyes

A Fate Worse than Death?

You probably have heard Jerry Seinfeld’s oft-quoted joke:

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

The accuracy of public speaking  being the number one fear nowadays could be questioned. The original study carried out by R. H. Bruskin Associates took place in 1973.

However, for many people, there is no doubt that the fear of public speaking is real and that fear can prevent them making progress in their careers .

Do you feel your career has stalled because of lack of public speaking confidence? Click To Tweet

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • You avoid speaking up at meetings
  • You decline the opportunity to give presentations
  • You feel you career has stalled because of your inability to speak in front of others

There are steps you can take to help you become more confident when delivering your presentations or speaking out at meetings. Over the next few weeks, my blog posts will share some tips and techniques to help. In this post, I will give you a brief overview of the 3 P’s of delivering a confident presentation. 

Sharpen the Axe

Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

Sharpen your axe before the presentation.

Prepare carefully. What is the key message for the audience? Click To Tweet

 Prepare.

Prepare carefully. What is the key message that you want your audience to take away? When you establish that, build your presentation around it. 

Practice.

Practice the material – be familiar with it. Practice your timing. Practice using your slides. 

Post-Presentation Feedback. 

Before you congratulate yourself on delivering your presentation, think about how you can improve the next time. Maybe you can ask a colleague to give you feedback on certain aspects of the presentation. Or maybe you could video your presentation and watch it back later. Watch to see what went well, and where you can improve next time. 

Effective public speaking takes practice, so start gradually Click To Tweet

Effective public speaking takes practice, so start gradually, notice improvements and build on them. 

If you would like help developing public speaking and presentation skills for you, or your team, feel free to contact me to arrange a free 15- minute no-obligation call.

maureen@softskillsuccess.ie

Infographic 3 p's confident presentation