Although we live in the Communication Age, it’s amazing how many of us struggle with how to get our message across effectively to our audience, whether a lone individual or a group of people. The sad truth is often those who are transmitting a message become so engrossed with what they are passionate about, they neglect to think about who is receiving that message and all the different ways that message can be perceived. Because they cannot control the reception of a message, communicators who want to stand out from the pack do the following:
1. They strive for ENGAGEMENT with their audience!
If they want their words to have impact, they will create a sense of involvement with the audience. If the subject matter allows, stellar communicators will call someone up out of the audience for an exercise or solicit audience participation. This establishes levity and creates an air of inclusiveness.
2. They seek to CONNECT!
They will strive to find common ground with their listeners. An audience who senses that their needs are being addressed will be far more likely to “tune in” and pay attention to what is being said.
3. They display CLARITY IN A MESSAGE!
They will save the big flowery words for their great American novel and use language that is clear and understandable. Going overboard using big words runs the risk of losing message impact, not to mention the loss of attention of audience members if their minds start drifting because the language is over their heads!
4. They REINFORCE what they’re saying!
If their message has multiple points or there are several “take-aways” they want their audience to have, it is good practice to present material, give examples and have a strong summary at the end. Reinforcing what they have shared is a good way to ensure the message will stick in the audience’s memory!
5. They are FOCUSED!
A common pitfall speakers fall into is a tendency to roam in their thoughts and it comes out while they are speaking. If an audience senses that the speaker lacks focus, they’ll lack focus as well. Stellar communicators create an outline and stick to it as closely as possible. This not only gives a speech structure, but will help if their track of thought gets lost.
6. They create SURPRISE or DISARM the audience!
Stellar communicators make an impact on their audience with the content of their message and find innovative ways to get the point across. If an audience comes expecting a cookie-cutter approach to a certain topic and they wind up getting surprised with a creative approach, this will go a very long way and will create a lasting impression!
7. They employ EYE CONTACT!
This is a powerful tactic that stellar communicators use. It immediately communicates to an audience that they are indeed real people and not just a backdrop that the speaker doesn’t see. When they lock eyes with someone for a fleeting moment, they are acknowledging them and silently saying, “I’m glad you’re here – you matter.”
8. They use VOICE PROJECTION!
It may seem like a no-brainer, but making sure they are heard by their audience is huge. Sometimes communicators forget to take into account the size of area they are speaking in. If an opportunity presents itself, they take a sneak peek at the venue they are speaking at. This will give them an idea how much they need to amplify their voice so their audience hears what they have to say!
9. They are CONSCIOUS OF POSTURE!
Whether the audience is one person or a thousand, the manner in which speakers hold their body when speaking is crucial. Those who slump, have their heads hung low or are leaning against a podium/lecturn to prop themselves up automatically create a negative impression. If they can’t stand up straight and look an audience in the eye, then the audience will wonder what’s wrong or assume that the speaker has no faith in the message he or she intends to share.
10. They are AWARE THEY CAN ALWAYS IMPROVE.
Sometimes those of us who may be confident in our speaking style get too comfortable and think there is nothing else to improve upon. Complacency is not the way to go when improving speaking skills. They should read about speaking or attend a local Toastmasters meeting. Toastmasters International is an internationally recognized speaking club that fosters improvement in communication and leadership skills as well.
Without question, technology allows us to communicate with each other in ways we never dreamed of before. However, regardless of the innovations we’ve experienced, it is imperative to possess basic skills to represent our ideas or positions to others. Anyone can talk but if you truly want to be heard and want to be regarded as someone who speaks well, then there has to be a willingness to learn, a willingness to grow and a hunger to make your message matter to others!
“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.” ~ Alexander Gregg
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