Have you ever heard a great speaker? Have you ever sat through a monotonous school lecture?
What was the difference? Chances are there are 2 main areas that separate the speaker from the lecturer:
How about you? Do you remember the content that you heard throughout your life, or do you remember more the personalities and delivery of that content? Chances are the latter is what stuck with you.
People don't remember WHAT you say, as much as HOW you say it, and how they FEEL when you say it.
So how should you speak? Think of how you write!
Think of the COMMAS:
Many speakers talk as if they are delivering a run-on sentence. They speak too quickly, and the listener can't keep up with all of the ideas that are being delivered. Just as a comma provides a pause in your sentence, remember to PAUSE in your speaking. Often if you think of your thoughts as sentences, your pause should naturally fall where your comma would if you were writing the sentence.
Remember: The pause prepares your people for your important points.
Think of the PERIODS:
Sometimes a thought requires a definitive end. Sometimes you need a longer pause. At the main points in your speech, where you really want to let the emotion of the moment sink in, pause for 5 seconds. Count to 7 as a guide. Why 7? Because I guarantee you will fast count in your head, so 7 seconds will likely be 3-4! But take the time to add a “pregnant pause” or 2 to your speech. The effect is worth it.
Think of the BOLDS and CAPITALS:
Dale Carnegie wrote a must read book for speakers, called “The Art of Public Speaking”. In it, he refers to “Mountain Peak” words. Monotone speaking is the kiss of death for a speaker. Emphasis is the cure. In writing, you use Bold font and ALL CAPITALS for important words. In speaking, you “punch” those words by saying them at a different volume or pace than the rest of the words in a sentence. If you have an important word in a sentence, emphasize it by saying that ONE word louder than the others, or even taking a short pause after the important word before finishing the sentence.
Vary your pace and volume when speaking, and remember that there should be peaks or punches to your most important words, even in the midst of a sentence.
Think of the ITALICS:
In writing, italicized words are thinner than the rest. In speaking, sometimes it is necessary to remove all of the dramatics and softly mention a word, or even a whole sentence. A good time to do this is at your “lasting line” or foundational phrase (see the article on this here).
In a speech, if everything is dynamic, then nothing is dynamic. It is important to vary not only the words that you say, but how you say them. Remember to speak like you write!
How can you spice up YOUR next speech?
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.