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We take speaking for granted, but when presenting to an audience and trying to persuade them, we need to revisit the very core of what we've been doing since we were a toddler. Here we'll focus on three different techniques that you can easily employ to improve your public speaking: Connecting, Pausing, and Articulating. Let's start with making a connection. Most of our presentations have an emotional angle somewhere, whether you're selling a product or trying to improve your classes' math scores, emotion is in there. Find it and turn it into a story. If you're selling a product, tell them how it has helped you or a client.
And I just don't mean with facts and numbers; use your emotions and make a connection. For example: This safety program is important to me because our lives are on the line. I have a family to get back home to everyday and I know you do too. I've made a promise to them to make this workplace as safe as possible and we owe it to them to follow these proven safety procedures to the letter. Or perhaps this: Here at Match Signal, we practice what we preach. We implemented the Series 9000 in our own office three months ago and we saw efficiency jump.
But let me tell you it's more than that. Just last week I overheard a coworker explaining how great it was to be able to go home early and spend more time with his family, and that's how I know that this product works. Pausing--when we speak we sometimes have a tendency to go at full speed and pick up a few breaths along the way. We must remember to pause. The pause has a few great side effects. In addition to giving us that all important breath, it's a queue for the audience to think or reflect on what was just said. It's dramatic.
Think of the pause as a very powerful period at the end of a sentence or a thought, one that says, "I just said something so profound, I'm going to give you a moment to realize how awesome it was." Articulating--as you practice pausing in all the right places, consider the way you articulate your words. We have to acknowledge that our audience doesn't have perfect hearing, nor are they always focused on our message as much as we would like. And so to counter that, we need to speak as clearly as we can, while placing emphasis on the most important words, the ones that we want to resonate with our audience.
See how that works? These techniques and others will help convey a sincere message to your audience that they can understand and connect with. If you find yourself weak as a speaker, just practice. Get in front of a mirror or better yet, a video camera, and just set aside an hour to practice your delivery and review your performance.
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