The most experienced public speakers deliver their message in a way that is characteristic of regular, everyday conversation. It makes their audience feel relaxed, much like they do when chatting with family and friends. Think about what makes conversation with another person comfortable. Their statements, facial expressions, phrases and responses are spontaneous. Some people are gregarious and animated; others are more introverted and reserved. Whatever the speaker’s natural style, the organic nature of conversational speaking is appealing to the larger audience. So, to attract the audience, we want to be ourselves as much as possible.
A word of caution though, as a public speaker, if your delivery is too casual for the event, it can detract from a formal occasion like a wedding or funeral. So a good speaker strives to strike a balance between the formality or casualty of an event and the speaker’s delivery style. There are a few things that a speaker may not be aware of, but that an audience will pick up on that cause a person’s delivery to sound, pretentious, condescending, or unnecessarily stiff and formal.
One of these is phrasing. Phrasing is basically how a sentence is structured. If a speaker tries to speak words exactly as they appear in print it can come across as very unnatural. This is because the written word is expressed differently than the spoken word. If you express thoughts just the way they appear in print or read them directly from a published outline during a speech, it is not likely that your presence will project that conversational tone that audiences enjoy. To ensure that you have a relaxed, conversational style, express your thoughts and ideas in your own words and avoid complicated sentence structure. Contrary to popular belief, it can leave a speaker looking foolish.
Another Trick that can help to keep an audience interested in what you have to say is to vary your tempo. Listen to normal conversation in a social setting. Notice that there are regular changes in the pace of each person’s speech and pauses that vary in length. If you want to keep an audience focused squarely on you as the speaker, strive to use a conversational style of speech in combination with increased volume, use emphatic gestures, increase the intensity of your speech, and don’t be afraid to express your enthusiasm! Finally, make sure that your manner of speech is not going to offend anyone or leave your audience with the impression that you are poorly educated or unprofessional;
1) Avoid poor grammar like the plague! Nothing will cause you to loose the confidence and respect of an audience faster than a statement like “do you know what I seen?”
2) Never use language that is crude or vulgar. Even if you are speaking to a group of Hells Angels or *** stars; you, your standards and professionalism are what should dictate your choice of words. You never know who might be listening in.
3) Communicate clearly. Be careful to avoid constantly repeating the same catch phrase or buzz words to convey every different thought that you might have in your head.
4) Use succinct words to clearly express what you mean.
5) By having what you want to say clearly in mind before you speak, you will avoid needless regressions.
6) Wordiness is not your friend. Avoid overwhelming those listening to you with too many words. State clearly, in simple sentences the points that are important.
7) Speak in a manner that shows respect for others.
Speaking well in public is an art but like any skill, can be learned and mastered by anyone who is willing to apply themselves to the task at hand. An appropriate conversational style of speech is something that you can use to put your audience at ease and help them to be open and receptive to what you say.
La Velle Goodwin has been speaking, performing, teaching and entertaining for nearly 20 years. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, Director of Rabid Entertainment Inc. , and developer of Speech Savvy Workshops