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Public speaking – From body language to the power of pause

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Given the choice, many of us would prefer to submit a written report rather than get up and convey the same information orally. And it is not only fear of public speaking that holds us back. The written language holds many advantages. Written words can be chosen with greater deliberation and care. Written arguments can be expressed in a sophisticated, complex and lengthy manner and the readers have the option of taking in the text at a pace that is comfortable for them and even re-reading it if they choose to do so.

On the other hand, verbal communication can be significantly more effective in expressing the meaning of the message to the audience. The speaker has an opportunity to use other means of communication that written language does not allow. Let us take a look at some of the means of communication available to speakers.

Storytelling

Everyone loves to listen to stories. A well told story has an almost hypnotic effect on the listeners. People might forget what you wore during a presentation or some of the charts, graphs and statistical data shown to them, but they will never forget the stories that you told them.

In the business world, whether you are speaking in front of two hundred people or making a presentation to your client, do not be afraid to include a few personal stories in your speech. This can relieve tension, make important points of the presentation memorable, motivate people to act, establish a connection with the particular audience or emphasize your message.

Body language

Numerous psychological findings show that non-verbal communication and especially body language accounts for as much as 55% of the message received by the audience. It means that in many professional and personal situations what you say may have a lesser impact on your listeners than how you say it.

Still the majority of business speakers spend very little or no time at all thinking about their body language such as their posture or how they use their arms when they prepare a speech. This often proves to be a big mistake, as appropriate use of body language signals your confidence and conviction in your material and ideas, helps you to say more in less time and increases understanding and retention of what has been said.

Therefore, learning to use effective body language during your presentations as well as ‘reading’ the gestures and facial expressions of your listeners goes a long way to improving your communication skills and becoming a better public speaker.

Tone of voice

A speaker’s confidence, emotional state and attitude is often revealed in the tone of voice. In the area of public speaking, your voice becomes a powerful instrument that allows you to engage, charm and encourage your audience to listen.

Speakers who talk in a tone with no variations, which usually happens when a public speaker is reading the speech or recalling it verbatim, quickly lose their audience’s attention and even put some of their listeners to sleep.

To avoid people dozing off or daydreaming during your presentation, you have to learn to control your tone of voice and use it to make your speech more expressive and hypnotizing.

The Power of Pause

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain

As strange as it may seem to many executives and business leaders who are accustomed to persuading and managing other people, public speaking is not just about talking in public. It is about listening to your audience and letting the silence talk for you.

In most cases there is no need to fill the silence with meaningless words such as “uhm”, “like”, and “you know”. Doing this only distracts the audience from what is being said and gives the impression of nervousness and lack of clarity.

Accomplished speakers are aware of this and often use the power of pause to: raise the impact of a remark, underline the last thing that was said, create anticipation for the next remark, instill more humor and passion into the presentation or give time for the listeners to absorb the information.

Successful Public Speaking

Is there an important presentation coming up? Then see more tips on how to compose a successful speech by downloading and reading “Successful Public Speaking” written by Arina Nikitina.

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