Effective delivery of a speech

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Use assistance for effective delivery of your speech.

Answers from Elena Ornig

Speech

Answering your questions.

Regardless of how brilliant the content of your speech is, you need to use commonly available assistance to deliver it effectively. The assistance includes: sound of your voice, body language, eye contact, your appearance and even silence. Credibility of your speech will rely on the content, but effectiveness of your speech will rely on your delivery skill. It is a skill, nothing more or less, and with practice, your skill can be developed and polished to perfection.

First you must have confidence. Confidence is easy to achieve if you are comfortable with yourself and the environment around you. Think about the highest level of comfort from a practical point of view. Are you properly dressed? Are your shoes comfortable to wear? Did you familiarize yourself with the stage prior to speaking? Are your notes intact, clear and comfortable to use? Is the microphone on the podium static or mobile? Will you use extra means for your speech, and if yes, is everything set up, re-checked and working properly? It seems like an insignificant exercise, but in reality it is quite the opposite. The more comfort you create for yourself the more confident you will feel and be able to project to an audience.

Before you start your speech, take into consideration one integral part of delivering your speech; it is a ‘pause of silence’ that will give you control of your audience. You are on a stage, have arranged your notes, checked the position of the microphone and that it is switched on, you feel like your level of comfort is established and you are in control of the podium. You are ready to speak, but have you achieved the required level of control over your audience? How do you know they are ready to receive? This is the time to create the ‘pause of silence’ and make eye contact with your audience. Take a breath, look at your listeners and check if they ready. This little gesture will play a big role for the effectiveness of your speech. You are showing that you are in control of the podium and indicating that you require their attention. It always works like magic. Silence and looking over an audience creates attention and establishes a time of readiness for both. The same ‘pause of silence’ technique can be used during your speech if you need to emphasize a particular point or fact, or to check the effect of a point or fact made on the audience.

You already made your first eye contact with the audience and you must repeat that eye contact as often as necessary during your speech to maintain their connection to you. Eye contact is also an integral part of the effective delivery of your speech. It depends on the content of your speech and size of the audience as to which type of eye contact you will use: direct to individual, direct to the audience or both. Here is the guide for you to remember: do not glance during the speech. Glancing creates the common psychological effect of so-called “shifty eyes”. There is no need to glance over unless there is a specific reason for glancing. Do not avoid looking at your audience when you need to emphasize, or check if they understood, your point. If you lack eye contact during your speech you will appear “turned off” from your audience.

Always check how big your audience is. If your audience is small (up to around 50 listeners) apply more direct individual eye contact; if it’s large, separate it into sections: left, right, centre, front and back. Even if you are talking to a big section it is proven that psychologically people in that area will feel like you are speaking directly to them if you look at their section. Take into consideration the real importance of thoughtful deliberate eye contact with your audience because this contact is vital in creating a bond with the listeners. One more thing to remember: never choose some distant object as a focus to pretend you have eye contact with the audience for two reasons: it hard to communicate with an inanimate ‘nothing’, and the impression of a ‘blank look’ on your face will unquestionably be detected by the audience.

Audience

Always check how big your audience is.

Bonding with your audience will definitely contribute to the effective delivery of your message so the next step for you to consider is the engaging of your audience and maintaining control of them. You can use a few techniques to deliberately achieve this effect.  First, consider moving around the stage if your speech is allows you to do so. When somebody moves on stage, even without speaking, listeners will automatically follow the speaker with their eyes and therefore they will pay extra attention. Use your hands; though this is a debatable technique, I personally believe and practice my speeches with use of my hands. Hands have their own symbolic language that everyone can easily understand, and if you use it correctly the extra symbolic gesture combined with your body language can be even more powerful then the content of your words. Stand up actors use their hands very effectively to communicate with the audiences and so can you, if you wish.

The same attitude should be considered towards your voice for delivery of your speech. It is hard to change the pitch of your voice because it is based on the physical anatomy of your body. However, it is proven that with practice you can make the necessary adjustments and even copy the sounds of other peoples’ voices. It is pretty rare that a voice sounds unbearable to listen to and most of us are born with a reasonably attractive sounding voice, particularly when we are speaking and not singing without special practice. There are so many ways to use your voice to add effect to your speech; from screaming to whispering, from protraction to fast speaking, from high pith to low pitch; our voices have the capacity and ability to help avoid monotonous and boring speech. Our vocal expressiveness has many variations and therefore our voice is the best instrument to make our speeches alive and effective.

To know how you can use your voice capacity and ability better, you simply need to practice your speech out loud a few times. The best practice occurs when you have a real audience, even if it is just one person. That way you can also see when to add eye contact and how effective it is.  If you can record your practice session, do so as it will allow you to better assess your voice expressiveness.

Only one further piece of advice is left for you to take note of – do practice. The more you practice the better you will remember your content. The more you practice the more familiar and comfortable you will become with your own notes and the sound of your voice. The more you practice the more confident you will feel on stage and therefore the more effective will be your delivery of your speech.

My warmest regards,
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Written by Elena Ornig

Managing Director of Publishing Company "Julia Sophistique Pty Ltd". Committee member of Australian Computer Association GC Chapter. Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Member of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland. Member of the IT Forum Gold Coast. Sponsor of the Helensvale Writers' Group, Gold Coast. Committee member of the Gold Coast Writers Association Honored VIP Member of STANFORD WHO'S WHO in America. Publisher, writer and blogger.

Website: http://www.elenaornig.com/