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- Analyzing your audience
- Strategizing for possible audience reaction
- Building credibility with your audience
- Collecting information
- Organizing content
- Designing slides
- Practicing your presentation
- Holding a Q&A session<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Skill Level Beginner
The way to improve your speaking skills is to get constant feedback and go back to practice some more. Here are a few ideas for you, listed from easiest to more complex. Leave yourself a voicemail. If flat intonation is your challenge, rambling around a topic is your weakness, using fillers and up talk is what you notice in your day-to-day conversations, this recording exercise will help you. Think of a message you need to send to a colleague. Practice first by leaving it on your voicemail.
Listen back for improvement on this weakness and use this technique until you or a trusted friend hears the improvement. Video record yourself. All smart phones have video cameras these days. Film yourself as you practice or during the real-time presentation. Then, after taking a deep breath, I know watching yourself on screen may be unnerving, take the time to analyze it. In fact, I want you to go far with this exercise. I want you to watch it 3 times.
The first time, with notepad in hand, turn off the audio and write down all the movements, gestures, expressions, interactions with the audience and your overall physicality. The second time, turn off the visual and listen to your voice. Listen for energy, conviction, use of pauses, and a varied intonation that makes you easy to follow. The third and final time is a holistic view of the video. Take context and content into account and make a list of strengths and areas of improvement as you see them.
This is the time when you can show the video to a colleague or family member to confirm that your list is a realistic one. Create an action plan. Once you have a few areas for improvement, be sure you set realistic and measurable goals around them. If, for example, you know that you need to slow down your rate of speech, first find your baseline. Transcribe an everyday voicemail message you left to find your words per minute baseline.
In the United States, conversational tone is 150-200 words per minute. Auctioneers and sports commentators can go as high as 250 or 400 words per minute. Now, practice reading a 150-200 word document out loud and time yourself. Aim for approximately 1 minute. This drill will give you a sense of pace. Then see if you can use the same pace in day-to-day conversations. Use pauses strategically and make a conscious effort to slow down.
Record your next announcement at a staff meeting and see if you're getting closer to your mark. Now, don't expect change overnight. About a 6-week timeline is a realistic one. Check out the speaking skills action plan in your exercise files. Step out of your comfort zone. Improving speaking skills takes time. If there's a Toastmasters International Club in your area, go and attend a meeting. They're the best environment for regular practice in both impromptu and prepared speeches.
Take an active role in work meetings, where you give updates, summaries, and reflections on your topic of expertise. Take advantage of non-work related speaking opportunities, such as motivational messages, to your kid's soccer team, a toast at social gatherings, or even ceremonial speeches at a family friend's retirement dinner. Practice makes perfect when it comes to speaking skills. If you want to improve, get feedback, take every opportunity you can, and keep sharpening your skills.