You think that you speak clearly, right? There are no marbles in your mouth or anything weird like that. You speak the same language as your audience. Then why does it seem to be so hard to get your audience to understand what you are trying to tell them? Could it be that there is some interference going on that you aren’t aware of?
It All Starts With Alignment
When we’re not able to connect with our audience, one of the first things that we think is “what’s wrong with them?” In reality, the problem is probably with us – after all, there’s more of them and just one of us.
One of the most common forms of interference that can cause problems for speakers is when the words that we’re saying don’t line up with the body language that we are conveying to our audience. The reason for this is very simple: we don’t believe what we’re saying.
When you find yourself having to give a speech and try to convince your audience about something that you yourself don’t really believe in, you are going to run into problems. How you really feel is going to be given away by the tone of your voice (monotone), your posture, and your gestures.
The best way to deal with this is to make a promise to yourself to never even try to convince an audience about something that you don’t believe in. Instead, search hard for some part of what you’ve been asked to tell your audience that you can agree with and focus on that during your talk. This will eliminate the interference that you have been causing.
Don’t Let Your Words Trip Your Message Up
There are many sources of potential interference for any speaker. Sometimes what trips us up comes right out of our own mouths.
A very common problem that any of us can have is that we over-qualify our statements. This is very easy to do. When you start out a statement by saying “I’m really not sure, but…” you are over-qualifying.
What we are doing in this case is letting our own self-doubts get in the way of what we want to say. Sure you may believe that you are not the expert on some topic that you’ve been asked to give a speech on, but there is no reason that you need to start out your speech by advertising this fact to everyone.
The reason that we use phrases like this when we are preparing to speak is because we’re searching for a way to start our speech. Instead of providing a nice lead-in, what we end up doing is torpedoing our speech from the start.
What you need to start to do is to skip the over-qualifying statement and get right to what you want to say. When you learn to get to the point then the words that you are speaking will have a great deal more influence on your audience.
What All Of This Means For You
The whole reason that we go to the effort of delivering a speech is because we want to affect our audience: we want to change how they see the world. This is not an easy thing to do.
If it turns out that our message is encountering interference from the moment it leaves our mouth and before it enters our audience’s ears, then we’ve got a real problem on our hands. This interference can come from a number of different sources: our words may not be aligned with what our bodies are telling our audience or the way that we are over-qualifying what we say.
Both of these sources of interference are easy to get rid of. However, first you have to recognize that your message is encountering the interference. After that it’s straightforward to remove the source of interference and become a powerful and effective speaker.
Question For You: Do you think that having a friend listen to your speech would allow them to detect if you were having interference problems?
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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 you are, standing up in front of all of those people giving your speech. We all know about importance of public speaking, but I wonder what they are thinking about? I wonder if they are wondering what you are thinking about while you are giving your speech? Sure, they’ve got great listening skills, but how are you going to break out of this “I’m up here and you’re out there” mold and really, finally, connect with your audience? It turns out that the answer is in your eyes…