Do you use the 5P Speaking words when you hit the stage?
I'll guarantee you this: most don't, and if they do, it's probably by accident. However, if you focus on these words, you can turn a dull presentation into a dynamic one.
Remember it's not always WHAT you say, but HOW you say it. And these work in everyday conversation as much as they do on stage.
Power Word #1 – PITCH
With this and the other 5 “power words”, you will need to do one thing every time you speak to get better at it: RECORD your speech. If you don't know how you sounded when you delivered your speech, how will you ever improve?
Once you've done that, go ahead and listen to yourself. I promise it's one of the most painful things you'll have to do – for most of us, we hate listening to our own voices or watching our own speeches, but it's a must. Learn to listen and watch yourself. As a speaker once told me, if YOU can't listen to yourself, why should you expect anyone else to?
Now to your PITCH. Listen to the highs and lows of your voice tonality. If you are imitating a character in your story, does it sound exactly the same as your normal speaking voice? Consider varying your pitch up and down depending on the person you are imitating. Now don't overdo this as it can sound silly and over-dramatic, but vary the pitch of your tone at times in your speech.
Power Word #2 – PACE
Next, look at the speed at which you speak. Sometimes it's good to slow down at an important point and speed your pace at other times during your speech. What you're watching for is this – don't have the SAME pace throughout your whole speech. That gets monotonous. A coach once told me “audiences will forgive you for anything when you speak – except being boring.”
Power Word #3 – PRONUNCIATION
Do you know your national anthem by heart? If you do, practice saying it VERY slowly before your speech. What you may notice is that we have a tendency to get lazy with pronouncing words properly. Get in the habit of practicing your speech slowly. This will not only prevent you from speeding up on stage, but it will get you in the habit of clearly, pronouncing your words when you speak.
Power Word #4 – POWER
There are words and phrases in your speech that you may want your audience to remember more than others. For these, deliver them with power. Here are 3 ways to do that:
Tip 1 – Speak those words or phrases louder. I spoke to a group a few weeks ago, and I had a handheld microphone. At the phrase I wanted to deliver with power, I raised the microphone right up to my mouth from chest height to deliver the line. That automatically raised the volume of the words, and suggested more power to the phrase.
Tip 2 – Say the words slowly. At the same event, I spoke the words of the phrase slowly – more so than the words before and after the phrase. This separated the words from the rest of the speech and gave them their own “weight”.
Tip 3 – A contrarian way to add power to your words is to say them SOFTLY. Remember, contrast is the key to capturing your audience's attention. When you are speaking at one volume, changing that volume at a certain point of your speech is wildly effective, whether you increase or decrease that volume.
Power Word #5 – PAUSE
Finally, there is power in pausing. And here's the thing: don't just reserve one pause for the most important part of your speech. Lay them out at various times. Slow down. Pause after a question as if waiting for a response. Pause after an important phrase. Pause to start and finish your speech. I've even paused when I've forgotten parts of a speech...and no one even noticed that I blanked out! They actually said “I appreciated that you used a pause”. When you are planning out your speech, plan for deliberate pausing.
Use these 5P words. Plan for them. Remember: what doesn't get planned rarely gets put in.
Good luck, set yourself apart, and speak to be remembered!
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.