The Two Missing Ingredients for Delivering a Memorable Presentation or Speech
Memorable Presentation or Speech
So, you’ve gone through all the steps and strategies I’ve told you about so far. You’ve done your homework; you clearly understand your topic and message. You know your audience’s benefit. You’ve made an outline of your presentation or speech and you’ve practised numerous times, in front of a mirror, your dog even your best friends and family. But there still is something missing. You’re not happy with the outcome because you want it to be memorable. Now there are many ingredients for your presentation or speech to be memorable for your audience. Maybe the location is special; there will be music and a big light show before you go on stage. Or a presenter will introduce you as a special guest presenter or speaker. Possibly a big video screen will show you, your slide show or a video. In this day and age video is very important. It is pushed by social media because it grabs people’s attention. I confess, I enjoy a good video too. But honestly, next time you want to watch a TED talk, don’t watch it; listen to it instead. Listen to the voice and to the pauses. These two ingredients make all the difference.
“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”
This is a quote by Mozart. Make sure to consider his advice for your next presentation or speech. Your words are the notes, which will sound good and leave an impact on your audience with the silence or the pauses in between.
Most people do not recognise that their voice is a powerful instrument. Before considering these three points about your voice, I’d suggest recording yourself and then listening to the recording. Many people have difficulties with this exercise, as they don’t like the sound of their own voice. If you are one of those people, please do not give up and flush everything down the drain. Please consider that you always sound like that to other people and I don’t want you to change your voice. I want you to listen to the recording carefully for these three distinctions:
Concerning the volume of your voice answer these questions:
How loud are you?
Do you have a powerful voice?
Is it difficult or even unpleasant for you to speak up?
Are you used to using a microphone?
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you should shout at your audience. Please don’t do that. I’m asking you to vary the volume of your voice during your presentation or speech, in order to grab and maintain your audience’s attention. If you’ve never used a microphone before, please test it first. Depending on the microphone there are different aspects to consider. You’ll feel more confident if you test it before. Have someone sit at different positions in the room and tell you how well you are heard at each position.
Do you remember what your mom or dad did when you had fallen and hurt yourself as a child? They’d take you in their arms, hold you tight and speak to you in a soothing voice while applying a Band-Aid. Possibly, you remember your parents, coach or team members cheering for you at a sport event. Or you remember a recent event you attended, which put you to sleep, because the speaker’s voice didn’t have any variation. Use your voice to make your audience feel comfortable and at ease, to feel excited and fired up or to put them to sleep, it’s up to you. Changing your tone during your presentation or speech will prevent your audience from drifting away. You will help them to focus on your topic. Using pauses here is another possibility to gain attention and interest. If you want to involve your listeners by asking them real questions, your intonation needs to go up at the end of the question.
Do you have a high or low voice? It is easier to listen to people who have a low voice than to people with a high-pitched voice. If you have a high pitch then practise speaking in a lower pitch. Don’t go too low, as your voice still needs to sound natural.
Remember Mozart’s quote? The notes are your voice and the pauses are the silences between. Another great way to emphasise your words and draw your audience’s attention is to use pauses. Pauses before moving on to the next point also give your audience the necessary time to grasp and understand what you are saying. Some speakers like using pauses to build tension and excitement. Instead of using fillers (the um and ah sounds), try pauses next time. It’s not something you’ll be able to change overnight, but it is worth a try.
That just about wraps it up for today
One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.
I hope you’ve found these two ingredients useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.
Have a wonderful time and take care
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