Don’t Talk Like A Robot

by drjim on February 2, 2016

When giving a speech, it helps to sound like a human

When giving a speech, it helps to sound like a human
Image Credit: Mark Strozier

So there I was last week working with one of my speaking clients. He had just gotten done giving a speech and he had hurried back to me to get some feedback on how he had done. I told him quite truthfully that he had done a very good job. But. It was that “but” that caught his attention. There had been something that was just a little bit off that had caught my attention during his speech. I racked my brain trying to determine what it was. All of sudden I had it, he had spoken like a robot!

How We Can End Up Sounding Like A Robot

What makes a good speech? It turns out that the answer to this question is based on the importance of public speaking and therefore is a bit more complicated than we might initially think. Yes, I think that we can all agree that there are number of different areas that can contribute to making a speech a good speech. These have to do with body language, vocal quality, eye contact etc. However, as my student showed me, you can get all of these things right and still not connect with your audience.

In order to make an impression on your audience you need to be able to reach out and really make an impact on them. This is exactly the thing that was not happening when my student gave his speech. At first I was puzzled, I mean on the surface he was doing everything correctly. There were no glaring mistakes that would have taken the audience’s attention away from the message that he was trying to present. However, that connection with the audience just wasn’t happening. Something was wrong here.

As I studied the presentation that was happening before me, I tried to determine what was going wrong. It took a bit of time, but eventually I determined that the issue was that something was missing. There was some key element of a speech that can connect with an audience that just was not happening in my student’s speech. Now all I had to do was find out what was not there.

How To Avoid Sounding Like A Robot

As I listened to my student deliver his speech, I was struck by how perfect his speech sounded. He was getting every word correct and the words were flowing smoothly from him. No notes were being used and he never seemed to have to pause in order to think about what he wanted to say next. Dare I say it – it was very much like watching a robot give a speech.

It turns out that nobody wants to watch a robot give a speech. What we want is to watch speeches that are given by people like us. Real people. People who make mistakes, but who keep on trying. It’s almost as though when we are watching a speech we like to imagine ourselves up there doing the talking. After his speech was over, I talked with my student in order to determine how he had prepared for this speech. He revealed to me that he had written the speech out word-for-word and then memorized it. It turns out that that was why his speech had sounded so perfect – he was speaking a written speech.

It turns out that if we memorize a speech word-for-word then we are going to lose a lot of what makes a speech memorable. As I watched my student give his presentation what was missing was all of those human things. Pauses, thinking up things to add to your speech on the fly, those things that you just can’t plan. When you have memorized your speech, they are removed from your speech. This means that you’ll end up presenting a very polished speech that in the end will come across as being unnatural to your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

One of my speaking students gave a great speech. Well, it was a very good speech. It had one very big problem – he had come across to me while he was giving his speech as being a robot. This meant that his audience had missed out on the benefits of public speaking. I needed to find out what was going on – how had this happened?

When I spoke with my student in order to find out more about how he had prepared to deliver the speech that he had just completed, he revealed his preparation technique to me. It turns out that he had written his speech out word-for-word. He then memorized the speech. The end result was that when he delivered it, he was too good – he came across slick and smooth and very much not human. More like a robot.

I worked with him to see what we could do to fix this problem. For his next speech, instead of writing the whole speech out word-for-word, I had him just jot down some bullet points. I then had him deliver his speech using these bullet points. Every time he gave the speech it was a little bit different. He did a much better job this time around – he came across as being human!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many times do you think that you should practice giving a speech before you deliver it?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I can only speak for myself, but I become a lot more nervous when I am asked to come and speak to a group of young, pre-high school, kids. I’m not quite sure why this is – perhaps it’s because I don’t believe that they know about importance of public speaking and will be willing to follow the “rules” that my adult audiences do. You know what I’m talking about: they can turn out to be unpredictable, demanding, and boisterous. All too often the young audiences that I talk to have to be there – they are not there because they want to be. Talk about a tough crowd!

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Mastering The Eulogy

by drjim on January 26, 2016

A eulogy is a gift both to yourself, and to others

A eulogy is a gift both to yourself, and to others
Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

Man, if there is one type of speech that I don’t look forward to, it’s a eulogy. I mean, what an incredibly sad time – someone has just died. Since I’m going to be at the funeral you know that I knew them and so I’m going to be very sad. Now you want me to stand up in front of everyone else who is sad and try to give a speech? That sure seems like it might be asking just a bit too much. However, those other sad people need some comfort in their time of loss. Perhaps my speech can provide them with just part of what they need. Dang it, I guess that I need to do this.

Plan Out Your Eulogy

When you are asked to deliver a difficult speech like a eulogy, the one thing that you really don’t want to do is to try to wing it. You are going to have to take the time to make sure that you fully understand the environment in which you’ll be speaking. This is going to include such things a the manner in which person died, how the audience felt about him or her, and what they think of you. All of these things will play a role in how you shape your speech.

One of the key aspects of your speech will have to do with how you choose to organize it. This is going to require that you make a series of decisions. The first of these will be to determine the purpose of your eulogy – why are you giving it? In order to achieve your purpose, you are going to have to very carefully choose the tone of your eulogy. The tone can range from being light to being solemn or anywhere in between.

There are a number of different ways to organize a eulogy. One of the best ways is to pick one period of the person’s life where a lot was accomplished. Use this period to find a focus for your eulogy and tell stories about how important this time was to them. You’ll need to keep in mind that what is going to make your eulogy effective is for you to be perceived by your audience as being sincere. What will contribute to this is when you pace your eulogy correctly and make it just long enough to clearly communicate your main points.

It’s All About Content, Not Delivery

The good news for you is that one of the things that makes a eulogy so different from the other speeches that you are called on to give is that what is going to matter the most is going to be the content of your speech, not so much how you deliver it. Your audience expects you to be upset by the death and so they will be very understanding if you have any difficulties standing up before them and speaking.

The purpose of your eulogy is going to be to provide an evocative remembrance of the person who has passed on – you want to bring them back to life for the short time that you are giving your speech. What you are going to want to talk about is what characteristics of the person will be most missed by the audience. Was it their kindness? Was it their sense of humor? What you are not going to want to do is to list out a chronology of their life – everyone present already knows that.

The good news with this kind of difficult speech is that the audience is not there to judge you. Rather, you are there to help them with the healing process. You are going to want to keep your eulogy short and to the point. You want to make your points, but you do not want to come across as being trite. What you are going to have to do while delivering this speech is simply be yourself. This is what your audience both wants and expects from you.

What All Of This Means For You

There are a lot of speeches that are tough to give. However, a eulogy just might be one of the hardest. The reason is that you are feeling sad and your audience is feeling sad. All of the traditional ways that we use to get our audience to rally behind us just won’t work in this unique environment.

You don’t just stand up and come up with a good eulogy on the spot. Instead, you need to take time and plan out what you want to say. You need to decide what the purpose of your speech is going to be. Next you need to pick a tone. When you deliver the speech you’ll need to be sincere – this is how you’ll connect with your audience. Don’t list out the deceased life, instead pick out specific events and provide color as you relate them to your audience. Don’t worry about how you give your speech. The audience won’t be judging you, they just want to hear your great content.

Let’s face it, the person who has died will never hear your speech. However, everyone who was a part of their life will probably be at the funeral and they will hear what you have to say. During your eulogy you have a chance to once again bring the deceased back to life even if it is only for a short time. Take your time and craft a good speech so that you can allow your words to help with the healing process.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think a well done eulogy should be?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So there I was last week working with one of my speaking clients. He had just gotten done giving a speech and he had hurried back to me to get some feedback on how he had done. I told him quite truthfully that he had done a very good job. But. It was that “but” that caught his attention. There had been something that was just a little bit off that had caught my attention during his speech. I racked my brain trying to determine what it was. All of sudden I had it, he had spoken like a robot!

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The Last Speech

January 19, 2016

When we are asked to give a eulogy for someone who has recently died, for most of us our heart sinks. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of death and so being placed in a position where I have to give a speech to an emotionally upset audience is not […]

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The Hardest Speech To Give

January 12, 2016

It’s All About The Beginning When you sit down to create an eulogy, it can be a real challenge to try to figure out where to start. The person who passed on, hopefully, lived a full life. You only have a short period of time in which to say some words about them that may […]

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How To Make Your Next Speech Your Best One Yet!

January 5, 2016

Every time you give a speech, you need to have a goal. In fact, you may have many different goals for a given speech. However, one goal that you always need to have is to understand the importance of public speaking and make sure that this speech is better than all of the speeches that […]

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How To Deal With Speaking Anxiety When It Comes

December 15, 2015

Speaking is hard work. As though it wasn’t hard enough, despite us knowing about the importance of public speaking, there is that pesky issue of speaking anxiety. What’s that you say? It’s when we start to understand that we’re going to be standing in front of a (potentially large) group of people and will be […]

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Learn To Read Your Next Audience Like A Book

December 8, 2015

The quality of your next speech will not be determined by the amount of effort that you put into your PowerPoint / Keynote slides. It won’t be determined by your clever use of pauses and hand gestures. Instead, your level of success will depend on how well you are able to connect with your audience. […]

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Bouncing Back From A Really Bad Speech

December 1, 2015

I’d like to think that if we all realized the importance of public speaking and took enough time to prepare for every speech that we give then each speech would be a success. However, that’s not the way that life works. There will be times that we give speeches where things just don’t work out. […]

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Adding Tall Tales To Any Speech Can Make You More Believable

November 17, 2015

What do you think that your next audience will be expecting from your speech? I almost hate to say this, but do you think that they are going ignore the importance of public speaking and to show up expecting to be bored? If so, then you have a real challenge on your hands. Not only […]

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Just How Handy Of A Public Speaker Are You?

November 10, 2015

There you are: you are on stage and you are giving your speech. You are about half way through your speech when you detect that your audience is being distracted by something. Don’t they know about the importance of public speaking – they should be listening to you! You are not quite sure what it […]

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