Public Speaking Training

Happy New Year! As we find ourselves well into another new year, it is a great time to consider “what am I finding difficult in the world of personal communication?”

Perhaps you are needing …

  • to develop skills to prepare and deliver an outstanding speech or presentation;
  • to work on projecting confidence and assertiveness in work meetings and different work-related situations;
  • help with your staff who are struggling to present themselves well;
  • to prepare for important interviews that will open new doors for you in 2018;
  • to work on your voice – sounding more engaging, warm and interesting ;
  • to become more confident that your voice can be heard and understood, that you are getting your message across …

the list goes on of scenarios where clients have overcome fear and limitations and found greater freedom in their communication abilities.

What a privilege it is to help people to achieve their goals and more fully enjoy life!

Voice training for successful communication

Imagine a typical scenario, if it is not yet typical for you it certainly will be one day! ,… “So-and-so is sick today and so you will have to go and speak to our clients and fill them in on where we are up to with the project!”

Unless you have had some practise at Impromptu speaking then the majority of people’s reponses to that instruction is not one of delight … our body begins to respond to the request and we may manifest a number of physical manifestations such as sweaty palms, heart seemingly beating out of our chest, or brain freeze.

Now, there are a number of well-proven techniques that can help us very practically to handle the above, or similar, situations effectively. However, once we have quickly thought about what we want to say and jotted down some barely legible notes on our phone or bit of paper, we then actually have to vocalise those thoughts and ideas. It is at this point that we have to consider three key things …

Clarity … will people be able to clearly hear and understand what I am saying ?

Fluency … can I fluently and articulately express what I want to say?

Variety … can I speak in a manner that is not going to send my audience to sleep in a matter of a few moments ?

Great communication skills lead to success

,

 

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in the business of delivering products or services – either way, your success depends heavily on communication. When things go wrong, you can almost always trace the problem to a breakdown in communication. And when things go right, it’s usually great communicators who helped create the successful results. It’s a necessary skill in every aspect of business, social and family life.

How you communicate will determine if you lead, command respect, earn trust and are well liked. Poor communicators will suffer from low self-esteem and frustration.”

This quote from Kevin Duam is so true. Becoming a great communicator is not just about handling big crowds or large audiences but it is in the everyday scenarios of life, in the seemingly insignificant one to one interactions. The great news is that these skills most certainly can be learnt and developed.

Skillful and hilarious communication!

,

Take one, not very tall, man; some lights; a huge platform and 20,000 people… all laughing for one and a half hours!

It really is an experience to be in an arena of so many people all laughing together. Laughter is infectious and so good for us – it certainly does good like a medicine.

Such was our very enjoyable evening a few nights ago at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney where the hilarious Michael McIntyre was entertaining an enormous crowd with no props, no special effects and no visual aids at all.

It was a great feat of memorisation, engagement with the audience and energy to entertain so many with simply a voice and a body! Michael McIntyre’s ability to make the mundane and familiar so amusing; to laugh at culture and language and be so observant of the people to whose towns and cities he visits, is a gift.  He is a very humorous and skillful communicator.

Some key skills that he exhibited were having great energy and enthusiasm, content that connected with his audience and clearly hours and hours of practise. He was totally professional and flexible when a couple of ladies interrupted one of his stories, and handled the situation with grace and absolutely no sign of panic!!

A few keys for all us public speakers there!

Being a ‘Confident Communicator’

,

I believe that, as individuals, we all want to be considered “a confident person”. We recognise the benefit of coming across to others as being fearless and self-assured. It is always interesting to clarify the exact meaning of words that we use so regularly …

‘confident’ –marked by assurance, as of success

having strong belief or full assurance

very bold

trust or faith in a person or thing

the state or quality of being certain.

Trust, assurance, aplomb, self–confidence … these nouns all denote a feeling of emotional security resulting from faith in one’s ability to achieve a certain goal.

So if we desire to be confident in the area of verbal communication we remember that a ‘communicator’ is someone who is skilled at conveying information or ideas to others. ‘Communication’ is the art and technique of using words effectively to exchange thoughts and to express oneself in such a way as to be readily and clearly understood.

Let’s put time, focus and intentionality behind achieving the above and we will be able to confidently say “I am a Confident Communicator!”

Using your voice

,

 

As we consider the miraculous gift that being able to speak is, we realise that, as with any other gifting, we can ignore it; take it for granted or abuse it.

Most of us probably fall into the second category with regards to using our voices until such time as we strain them through misuse and unwittingly find ourselves in the third category.  However, what about those of us who ignore the gift, and maybe due to negative experiences or self-inflicted limitations, find ourselves for the most part Silent.

Our mental health is improved as we yield to the deeply human need to speak and to be listened to. Remember Wilson, the volleyball that Tom Hanks’ character Chuck, dressed up in the film “Cast Away”. Wilson proved critical to Chuck’s mental health as his deep need to speak to someone – or anything(!) was evidenced.  Some people speak to their dog or cat or plants in the event of having no-one else to speak to.

For those of us who have become “silent”,  it is time to pick up the talking spoon again and start connecting with others verbally.

The Gift of Speech

,

There are a number of differences that characterise human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom… one of those differences is our ability to speak – to articulate ideas, thoughts and feelings through the medium of words.  Our ability to vocalise and speak words is nothing short of miraculous when we consider all that is involved – the process of speech production is a highly precise and practised motor skill.

To simplify the whole process, in an everyday conversation, we firstly have to hear clearly; then we process what we have heard; we then consider our response and vocalise it. Mental processing of information is a science all of its own.

Being able to speak is something that most of us absolutely take for granted until we are faced with the onslaught of a stroke, motor neurone disease or an accident that takes away, even in part, our ability to exercise what is a vitally important function in life.

Give thanks everyday for your ability to open your mouth and speak – and work to make it the best possible experience for everyone listening!

 

 

The Queen’s Speech

Queen Elizabeth II

People the world over are working on their verbal communication skills knowing that, without excellence in these areas, success and fulfilment in life may be limited. Much of life is certainly about how we interact and build rapport with others; and oftentimes this must be with people of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to us. So, what ought we to be working on as “global communicators”?

I worked with a Russian lady in London some years ago who was totally confused as to how the English language should sound and be spoken. Having been educated in America and having lived in Switzerland, London, Yorkshire and various other places in the world she did not know what was correct pronunciation. Indeed, every geographical area has its own distinct accent, colloquialisms and individual nuances.

A prerequisite to being a “global communicator” is certainly to be a good listener – so gaining some understanding of the culture, influences and interests of a particular friend, colleague or neighbour. However, what we absolutely cannot do without is clarity of speech. This is not necessarily about RP (received pronunciation) or Queen’s English, it is about whether my speech is intelligible? Can I be easily understood? Is my speaking clear? How often am I asked to repeat myself?

A quick win in achieving greater clarity of speech is considering the pace at which we talk. For most of us our difficulty is speaking too quickly (especially when nervous) making clear diction impossible and making it hard work for our listeners.

Our next consideration is how precise and definite we are in articulating the sounds that make up the words that we speak. Try saying “Peggy Babcock” ten times faultlessly!  For this, we may need some help with the correct placement of our organs of articulation and some serious tongue twister exercises.

So next time you are doing a presentation, a speech or just talking with a group of friends … don’t ignore the puzzled expressions or the drifting off to sleep… take a breath, slow down, take time to say your consonants and find your communication skills improve one-hundred-fold!

 

 

 

Accent Softening – Clarity brings Confidence

,

 

I love the English language! However, as a native English speaker I have the utmost respect for those endeavouring to get to grips with the language’s abundance of inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies. There is a wonderful, if rather long, poem called “The Chaos” (Anon) which charts the majority of the rebellious sounds and would challenge the most confident of English speakers!

My wonderful father-in-law spoke nine languages fluently but I couldn’t begin to get my mouth around the unfamiliar guttural sounds, diphthongs and triphthongs that he rattled off effortlessly in Dutch, Indonesian, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Italian, Spanish and German.

It is only with a great deal of practice and focus that ESL students can master the unfamiliar sounds that are ‘th’, ‘v’, ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’ etc. However, there is no doubt that the investment of time, money and focus does reap great rewards as “Clarity undoubtedly leads to increased Confidence”. It makes the world of difference to my students to know that they can easily be understood and that there is no lid to their potential for promotion, job satisfaction and social interaction.

In extreme situations, our ability to be understood could be a matter of life and death; in more common situations it can save awkwardness, misunderstandings and even the loss of a job. As English continues to be one of the most widely spoken languages and the official language of the majority of nations we need to persevere with ‘The Chaos’ – Get rid of the lid!

Finding Your Voice

,

The phrase ‘Finding your voice’ resonates with so many of us because it is about freedom of expression to be all that we have been created to be. From the moment a new little person is born into the world we listen for the first sign of life – a cry. The newborn baby comes out of the safety of his/her mother’s womb, takes in air, opens the mouth and emits a sound that lets us know that they have arrived safely in this world.   The child continue to express themselves through crying and noises until learning to form sounds and words and sentences, so developing the ability to express themselves in a more mature and effective way.

I remember, as a child, wanting, no, needing to release my voice with full force and vigour as I had done as a baby with no restraints of what was polite or socially acceptable so … would stand under the railway bridge close to our home, and, as the train went over, would let out a long, well-supported (by then I knew how to effectively use my voice) shooooooooout! This vocal release eased tension, frustration and somehow helped me again to connect with my innermost being. Singing can be a wonderfully health promoting pastime also.

Dr Peter Calafiura, an American psychiatrist, agrees that yelling can have a positive mental influence. “[Yelling] might trigger some endorphins, a natural high,” he says. “They might feel calm and it might even be a little addictive. It’s really similar to a runner’s high. They’re getting the same effect in a different way.”

Sometimes, we need to shout, shout and let it all out …! My only word of advice would be to do it somewhere where you are not going to distress or alarm someone else and I am certainly not advocating giving way to venting and yelling at another human being! There is plenty of evidence that yelling in anger is seriously detrimental to one’s health.