Do you find yourself obsessing about the “right” way to present? The “right” way to speak? Watch my tip, and learn to break the rules on occasion and just let things fly.
I’m often asked by my public speaking clients in New York City and New Jersey, “How Can I Have More Confidence?” Jerry Seinfeld recently addressed this question. Check out my video for his answer!
One of my presentation training clients in New York City recently asked me why some TED talks gather millions of views, while others with similar content languish? I did some research. It turns out a human behavior consultancy called “Science of People” set out to answer this question. They asked volunteers to rate hundreds of hours of TED talks, and here are the conclusions they came to:
- The volunteers rated speakers comparably whether the sound was on or not! What does this mean? It means your non-verbal communication matters…. a lot! How you gesture, and the tone of your voice can make or break your speech.
- SOP also found that there is a direct correlation between the number of times a speaker gestures and the number of views the talk gets. This is why Italians make such great speakers! Remember to use bold gestures.
- Keep it loose! People who ad-libbed in their speeches rated higher than those who stayed on script. In addition, vocal variety boosted ratings on charisma and credibility.
- Did you know smiling makes you look smarter? The more TED talkers smiled, the higher their perceived intelligence.
- As we all know, first impressions matter a lot. SOP found that people largely formed their opinion about a speaker based on the first several seconds. So come out blazing!
If you’re an avid public speaker, you’ve probably gotten many tips. Here are five tips I think you can avoid:
- “Just Try To Relax” – A recent Harvard study proved that “trying to relax” before you speak doesn’t work so well. It’s a better idea to try to re-frame your pre-speech anxiety as excitement. Try telling yourself “I’m excited to give this presentation” just before you speak.
- “You Have To Have PowerPoint to Present Well” – Nope. The most important part of any presentation is a strong, unconventional premise, and a good story. PowerPoint visuals are a nice aid, but there are many presenters who forgo PowerPoint and still give a great presentation.
- “You Have Too Much Data” – Data is not your enemy. Well-placed statistics can build your argument. The danger is misplaced data. Make sure each statistic builds your argument logically, and don’t add data you don’t need.
- “Speak Quickly To Meet Your Time Limit” – I see this one get many speakers into trouble. You never want to rush when you present. If you feel that your presentation is too long, cut it down, but don’t speed up.
- “It’s Important To Gesture” – It is good to gesture, but the most powerful speaking tool is your voice. Stillness helps the audience pay attention to your words, and your ideas. Too much movement can distract from your speech.
There are 44 different sounds in American English. All are important, but some sounds are more important than others. Which sounds should you tackle first?
Vowel sounds play a very important part in language. We lengthen and intone vowel sounds when we emphasize certain words in a sentence. We also lengthen vowel sounds to indicate syllable stress. Vowel sounds play an important part in making words, and sentences, knowable.
Practice these sounds:
1.) The “Cat” Vowel Sound – This is a very common vowel sound. To make this sound, bring your lips into a smile. Keep the tongue flat. The sound is short.
2) The “Fun” Vowel Sound – This sound often gets mispronounced. Many executives, especially Russian speakers of English, make it more complicated than it is. This sound is made by keeping the jaw and tongue very relaxed. The sound is short. It sounds like a small grunt.
3) The “High” Vowel Sound – This sound is long and your lips, tongue and lower jaw move while you make it. To start, round your lips as if you are holding a small ball in your mouth. As you make the sound, move your lips into a slight smile, and arch the middle of the tongue high toward the hard palette. Count to two as you make the sound.