The Golden Rule of Communication – If it’s distracting, it’s a problem.
We have 2 tools for Communication:
This is the first impression and assumption that people make.
Present yourself well
- Be freshly groomed and dress your best.
- Stick to block, neutral colours.
- Don’t wear anything too bright or distracting. Avoid wearing stripes, particularly if being filmed.
A monotone body is a monotone voice.
Moving with intention. It has a clear purpose that supports the message.
Unintentional. It is movement because of nervousness.
What to avoid:
Repetitive or unnecessary gestures.
If movements are overused, it will no longer be an effective anchor.
If a speaker came out and stood on stage with their hands in their pockets, speaking to the ground, you would think “They don’t want to be here”.
Using foundational hand gestures can add so much variety to your voice. Even when speaking on the phone, these gestures can bring life to your voice.
Foundational hand gestures for public speaking: Satir’s Five Positions
- Placater: Open, upwards-facing hands. A good way to start the presentation. Open and warm.
- Leveller: Hands down. Voice goes down. Conveys credibility and has authority. Don’t use it when asking for questions.
- Blamer: Raising a finger or fist to point. Gives you more power.
- Computer: The thinker. Powerful gesture shows listening, processing and being present and shows care. Shows engagement. Great to use when on a video conference.
- Distracter: Sets the mood. A pattern break. Clap then leveller. Good to wake everyone up in a monotonous meeting.
Specific body language and visual ticks to avoid:
That distracts, reduces clarity and is a sign of nervousness
- Lack of eye contact – Indicates nervousness.
- Rubbing hands together – Indicates nervousness.
- Hands behind back – Indicates nervousness.
- Looking up at the slides – Disengaged with the crowd.
- Distracting movement
- Toe lift and rocking back and forth - Distracting movement.
- Standing on tiptoes and bouncing - Distracting movement.
- Tapping toe - Distracting movement.
- Tapping legs - Distracting movement.
- Hands in pockets - Inhibits movement.
- Hands on hips - Inhibits movement.
- Crossed arms – Closed off body language. Replace with the computer,
- Use foundational hand gestures because it gives you more authority, engagement and power.
Foundations of Voice
Dig deeper into effective communication.
Rate of Speech:
- When we're nervous we increase our rate of speech. In turn, this makes the viewer feel nervous for them.
- If you slow down, it not only makes other people relaxed it relaxes you. Slowing down can also act as a verbal highlighter.
- Any default rate of speech is bad. You disengage with monotony.
- Speaking fast can show passion and energy.
- When you slow down it seems profound.
- Varying your rate of speech will also help to vary your inflection.
- Speaking at a 5-6/10 volume displays confidence, authority and belief in your statement. Most people speak at a 3 level on average.
- 5-6/10 show confidence, authority, shows you believe in what you are saying,
- Most people speak at a 3.
- Default low volume is a sign of nerves. However, using a low volume for profound moments is emotive.
- Warm up your voice with some diction exercises https://www.write-out-loud.com/dictionexercises.html
- Think of your voice as a piano. There are 88 keys, but most people only use 2 - sounding monotone.
- Songs have a melody that you can anchor a story to. Although you won’t sing your presentation, more pitch variation and inflection will make you more memorable.
- Your face and body language are the remote control for the emotion in your voice.
- If your face is monotone, then your voice is monotone.
- A smile adds more pitch variance and inflection to your voice – resulting in you sounding happier, engaged and invested in your message.
Remove the Clutter
Removing your non-words and your filler-words.
- Non-words: The sounds that you make to fill the silence. “Aah”, “Umm”, “Err”.
- Filler words: The words that you use to fill the silence. “So”, “Like”, “Do you know what I mean”.
- These are a crutch that you fall into when you don’t know what to say.
Using lots of non-words and filler words lends to verbal clutter, which results in:
- Decreased message clarity.
- Decreased credibility.
- Decreased authority.
- Makes you appear unsure about what you're talking about - even if you are.
Be comfortable in the silence.
- Allow the audience to digest what you just said and gives you time to think about what you’re saying next.
Record and Review
Watch 5 minutes of your presentation three times.
- The first, watch with sound off notice for non-functional movement.
- The second, just listen for vocal crutches, no words, filler words.
- Lastly, transcribe your video into a text document (ensure that if there is an option to leave in non-words and filler words that it is selected) and highlight your non-words and filler words.
Then, film yourself doing 5 minutes of your presentation and do the reviewing process again.
- The more you do this the better you will be.