Speak like you mean it

Last week I wrote about speaking for effect, suggesting that speaking in public is a critical leadership and life skill. My good friend Fabrice responded saying “Now, great content I can figure it out, but great delivery…would like you to give us some of your thoughts on this… in your next blog?”

Speak like you mean it
Speak like you mean it

I thought I’d go one better than giving my thoughts on this, and ask another great friend for his wisdom on the matter. Matt Church, as well as being my mentor on speaking, is widely regarded as Australia’s leading expert on how to speak more effectively. He’s taught most of the professional speakers in this country. He’s even been identified by The International Professional Speaking publication as one of the 21 most influential people in the profession worldwide.

So when he shares his thoughts on speaking, I listen. Anyway, here’s what he had to say.

Idea one:  Say something worthwhile!

Even a speaker with no style will be compelling if what they say is worthy. Spend time first figuring out what you have to offer others before you worry about how you say it. Then from a place of substance you can begin the essential work of packaging up your message so that others consider it.

  1. Write down everything you know on a topic and then circle the key words.
  2. From that list of key words you can then look for relationships between words.
  3. Then write down any questions that come to mind on the topic
  4. Turn these questions into statements or declarations
  5. Try to draw a picture that sums up your thoughts

The centre of every great speech is a great message.

Idea two: Move with purpose!

One of the most distracting habits a presenter can develop is poor body movement. Every move you make should support your message. If you are talking about big things, make a big movement. Some people pace in an attempt to engage the audience when all they really do is distract the audience.

  1. Stand still when making important points.
  2. Move with a medium to slow pace from one part of the stage to the next if required.
  3. In the Western world, the ‘audience left’ is their past and the ‘right’ is their future. Move from left to right as your point unfolds.
  4. Move into the audience if you wish to create more engagement.
  5. The centre front of the stage is the most powerful area to communicate inspirational messages.

Idea three: Show your point while you tell it.

Any picture representation of your idea will increase audience engagement dramatically. The use of a big picture visual allows people to wander on purpose. We cannot speak fast enough for the human brain, so it is natural that some of your audience are not listening to your words. Allow them to think about your point ahead of you by giving them a visual framework – a map to guide their thoughts.

Use …

  1. Models, based on geometric shapes like circles triangles and squares
  2. Metaphors and analogies, based on every day life examples that people would know – e.g. the role of a compass or learning to drive
  3. Icons and symbols that convey meaning without the need for explanation – e.g. a stop sign or crucifix
  4. Anactual picture of your point
  5. A graph, but without too much detail

Love to hear your thoughts – what do you think of these three big ideas about speaking? You can leave them below.