Sometimes when we are nervous it’s hard to speak at a level that’s easy for our audience to hear. When we feel self-conscious it’s very easy to lower your voice and just talk as quickly and quietly as possible so that this terrible presentation that you hate delivering is over as quickly as possible! At the time it feels like the right thing to do. Then you receive feedback that your audience couldn’t hear you or your manager tells you that you didn’t seem very confident in your delivery. (Oh if only they knew how much you hate public speaking right?).
The problem with quiet talking is that it’s wasting your time and the time of everyone in your audience. If they can’t hear you, why are you talking at all? If they miss out on your great ideas, that’s a shame isn’t it?
What should you do instead?
Emphasise key words when presenting.
Yes, it’s a great idea to emphasise key words when you present. Emphasising key words helps your audience know what’s important and it helps them get a strong sense of your emotional objective or the ‘vibe’ you’re aiming to create. The words most people emphasise are called content words and they are the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. As well as stressing key nouns and verbs you should also look at stressing the ‘focus words’.
Focus words are the keywords in any phrase and they usually are content words. If you listen to any public speaker, politician or entertainer, you will hear them use this technique. America’s past president, Barack Obama, is a wonderful example of someone who knows how to use emphasis on keywords. He does three very important things on those words: he makes the stressed syllable in that word longer, louder and higher in pitch. This is how we help our listeners turn their attention to our most important points.
Why not give this. A try the next time you have to run a meeting or present in public?
Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au