Words are incredibly powerful! They can inspire, excite and comfort a lot of people at a time. However, in the previous article about nonverbal communication we mentioned that not only what you say is important. The way how you speak and the way you behave during your own speech can either help you achieve what you want, or just fight against you in the battle for audience’s attention and respect. Good speaking skills will stand you in a good stead in different situations, even when only one person is your whole audience. That is why, despite the fact that you can write a great text for your talk, it is very important to know a few best time-tested tips which will guarantee the success of your speech.
Learn More About Your Audience in Advance
Before you sit down to compose your fiery speech, you should remember clearly who is going to listen to it. The strategies of presenting one and the same topic to different audiences vary considerably. So, you need to know yours well enough in order to sound in an appropriate way. The following criteria will help you orient yourself better to the best techniques you can apply to your performance.
It is quite obvious that you should know the average age of your listeners and spectators. If you are talking to your peers, you can afford to be less formal; slang words can be used, but you should better not overuse them anyway; also, you will not need to spend your time (which is always limited, by the way) on explaining some technical or socio-cultural notions. On the other hand, if you are performing in front of your groupmates parents, college professors or older colleagues and boss, you should review your informal style and sound more serious. Still, there is always a place for a good joke and witty metaphor.
Social Status and Occupation
At first sight it may seem that the requirements for your performance set by the age of your audience can repeat those set by their social statuses and occupations. However, let’s imagine the situation that the guys from the team of volunteers, who you want to join and who are reviewing your application, are just a few years older than you. It is really great if they are treating you with the easy familiarity of an equal, but you should remember that you are still a newcomer. So, you should consider this when choosing the way you introduce yourself and your ideas.
There may happen a situation when you will need to speak in front of international students as a representative of your home university. Or you might find yourself to be one of many other overseas students who are taking the same course. In any case there can be issues that are not worth being raised, regardless of what they concern (politics, features of national character and so on).
Know What You Are Expected to Say
Now let’s focus on your speech as it is. Even if you do not have a presentation, you should think carefully what your audience would like to hear from you, taking into account the surrounding conditions and the criteria mentioned above. Of course, the content of any speech mostly depends on how well your audience know what you are going to talk about, the general reason for the meeting (that is whether it is positive or not), as well as on many other facets. At the same time, there are some universal tricks which can guarantee that your performance will make powerful positive impression whatever the subject is.
Know Why You Are Performing
No, it is not about knowing the event to which your speech is dedicated. It is about the purposes you are pursuing. Do you want just to inform your audience or to persuade them that what you are saying is right and the opposite opinion is not? Your purposes determine your strategies. That is why you should understand clearly which particular reactions and results you need.
Make Your Statement
At the very beginning. This should the main idea of your whole performance. It will serve both a basis and a peak of your talk. It will help you start and finish logically. Besides, clear and unambiguous statement will draw your audience attention and promote your opinions.
Build Your Speech Smartly
Do you remember those ubiquitous rules for writing essays? Revise them carefully if you feel you have forgotten some. They will appear to be very helpful when you start writing the text or making an outline of your speech. Indeed, its structure should be planned well, so that the audience could easily follow your train of thought and agree with you at the end.
Remember Not Your Words but Your Ideas
Of course, it is just perfect if you have enough time to prepare. However, you should not learn everything by heart. You are not going to declaim a poem. You should firmly keep in your mind the ideas which you need to introduce to other people. If you personally understand these ideas and the aims behind them, you will be able to describe them successfully without memorizing every line of your speech.
Tell Them What They Have Never Heard Before
Even if your ideas have already become popular without your direct assistance, even if you know that your audience know a lot, there must be something fresh for them in your words. Hackneyed phrases and rediscovering America will not work. This can be your attitude, your approach, your solution, your conclusions, – just anything new to attract them.
Arm Yourself with Your Charisma, Healthy Confidence and Some Other Skills
It is time to think about yourself! Choose the most appropriate and comfortable clothes, sleep well (if you have such opportunity) and have some light meal before the performance (or at least grab some water with you). Let’s see what else we have here!
- Greet your audience with a light and sincere smile. You do not need to keep it on your lips during the entire performance, especially if it is dedicated to some really sad event. But your facial expression should be friendly in any case.
- Keep eye contact. Or at least try to look over their heads and move your eyes from one part of the audience to another from time to time. You need to appeal to all of them, you know.
- Pay attention to your voice. Try to speak calmly and keep reasonable pace. Gradually raise your voice to highlight crucial issues, and lower it if something crucial has carries a negative message.
- Control your posture. Do not stoop and do not fold your arms. Show that you are open for communication and reaction.
- Watch your gestures. Yes, you do need them. However, they should help you highlight your thoughts but not to overshadow them.