If you’re in the business of Marketing, Events and PR, you will always find yourself being surrounded by people. You may or may not be doing your pitch all the time, but you know that somewhere along the way, you need to talk to these people and you’re gonna need them to listen to you.
I am surprised that a lot of people who are into this industry still don’t know how to speak well, or have not yet mastered the art of effective speaking. And no, I’m not talking about public speaking. Just speaking in a casual conversation. Honestly, more meaningful business deals close in small talk. *wink wink
For a couple of public speaking and PR class sessions, I discussed the 5 basic factors of effective speaking. Here they are:
1. Eye contact – Eye contact helps you build rapport with your audience. With this, they also get to gauge how sincere you are and if you are also paying attention to him/her. Sometimes a lot of salespeople get too caught up discussing the benefits of their product and they forget the fact that no matter how fabulous your product is, if your prospect doesn’t really need it, there is a very high chance that s/he won’t buy it. Establish just enough eye contact for you to make your companion think that you’re really listening. Don’t overdo it and don’t make piercing stares. They’re only going to make the situation awkward and you’re not going to close that deal.
2. Hand Gestures – Don’t worry, we won’t demand that you become your own Ernie Baron. Hand gestures help you animate your speech and keeps your listener interested. Also, if somebody looks at you from afar, you will look like you’re explaining something very important, and that too, can spark positive interest. Just position your hands below your face and keep your elbows in. Moreover, hand gestures help you establish your authority
3. Composure – In the dictionary, composure means “the stable, calm state of your emotions”. When you are speaking in public, you must evoke a certain state of calmness so that people won’t have to exert so much effort in trying to understand your message. You can be passionate and calm at the same time; you don’t have to always shout or point at people to make your point. Remember, the motive of really effective public speaking is making it seem like you are connecting to every member of the audience on a personal level. That is why composure is equally important as eye contact.
4. Voice Tones – In order to retain the interest of your audience, you must vary your voice tones. It must be obvious if you want to have something emphasized or to “lighten” something in discussion. For example, if you are explaining a stand on abortion, you can put emphasis and raise the intonation higher on the reasons why you are against it. On another note, you can also soften your voice when you are dealing with very sensitive issues such as if you are making an (almost) offensive remark on race, religion on politics. Just remember to say “no offense meant” if that topic is really sensitive yet you just had to say it. Voice tones are used to animate your speech so that your audience won’t fall asleep while listening to you. I guess priests and teachers have to know more about this public speaking component, don’t they?
5. Confidence – I always say that confidence is usually the be-all end-all of the speech. When you’re confident of that you’re talking about, and yourself, when you know, truly, in your heart, that you will not screw things up, YOU WON’T. You will shine, be at your best, and your wit may even accelerate 200% faster. The key here is to really believe that you can do it. Of course, that also entails getting ready for the actual speech so you’ll know what to say and not cram. In fact, even the most experienced public speakers can be so good at exuding confidence that they can hide the fact that they (initially) came to the rostrum unprepared.
Ok, I know that it won’t take you just an afternoon to master all these things. In fact, the shortest time I can use to *really* make a difference in my students is to discuss all of these with matching exercises and syntheses in 1 whole day.
To ask about our public speaking workshops, you may email me at [email protected] Thank you and more power to non-awkward and non-embarrassing speeches! 🙂
BTW, just want to share with you our team’s recent public speaking success: Ateneo Debate Varsity recently won the 1st Davao Debate Intervarsities. I placed 3rd in the Best Adjudicators list and 6 out of 10 best speakers in Mindanao came from the same team. Mighty proud of my kids! 🙂