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11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

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11 Things Eloquent Speakers Don’t Do

We’ve all experienced stage fright and can likely relate to Eminem’s song Lose Yourself: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” (I hope you didn’t have the same sweater problem like he did in the song). In many ways eloquent speaking has a lot in common with rapping. It is not as outwardly rhythmical – not that it lacks rhythm – and you don’t get a beat to cover your mistakes, make you more colourful and keep your rhythm steady.

Talent is one thing when it comes to public speech but people tend to forget it is a skill more than anything else. A lot of people don’t even allow themselves to visualise a situation where they are addressing a crowd for fear of exposure. Still, being able to hold an audience’s attention is a much desired skill for professional situations as well as personal social situations. Here are a few don’ts which you can avoid in order to help you boost your public speaking skills and conquer your fear of the stage!

1. They don’t rush things

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    When panic strikes everything speeds up. Your heart rate goes up, you start shaking, a million thoughts go through your head and you start to speed up everything that you do. This means that you start talking faster than usual without being aware of it. By being aware of the jitters that they experience before going on stage, professional speakers deliberately slow down to the speed at which they talk in order to avoid blabbering, stuttering and losing their flow.

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    2. They don’t allow negative thoughts to control them

    Over thinking is a very common problem these days and you can easily be spiralling into a self-induced state of panic if you let your mind wander. By focusing only on the reasons why and the possibilities how you are going to fail a certain endeavour, you can provoke a very real fear. Even though the situation is not that challenging, you are still going to perceive the negative potential of the situation since that is the only thing you are focusing on. Public speaking doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed in that classic “politician to the crowd” sense, it can also be a required skill in the office environment. This can be difficult for a lot of people to achieve and is why there is so much talk about creating a stress free office environment. Basically, it means better communication and organization.

    Instead of doing this, attempt to hype yourself up. Try to visualize the whole thing as a sports match and set yourself into that winning mentality. I don’t mean a professional sports match, more like something you play against friends and you go in with that winning mentality that comes easily and naturally, since there is no pressure. This “I can do this” attitude may seem tacky, but it works and can help you channel that excess energy you get when panicking.

    3. They don’t take the approach of a sales person

    Salespeople have a specific oratory style which works for some situations. The first thing that comes to my mind as an example of this is the way a used cars salesman addresses a customer when trying to sell a car. Now, if you want to be an eloquent speaker, you need to steer clear from this “style”. Depending on personal preference you can attempt to be more than a few things and find your perfect fit. You can attempt to be entertaining, charming, interesting, or inspirational but never allow yourself to get into a situation where you come off as someone who is attempting to make money from the people you are addressing.

    4. They don’t avoid eye contact

    When people are performing in front of a large crowd (remember that speaking is a performing art) they tend to avoid making eye contact with people in an attempt to depersonalize the situation. Yes, it is true that you can lower your stress levels by focusing on a faceless crowd and this can work for some performing artists – let’s say a guitarist – but the nature of the situation you are in requires you to make eye contact with the people you are speaking to. According to Forbes it is one of the worst body language mistakes you can pull off! It is only the polite thing to do and it helps you establish a better connection with your audience. After all, this is a dialogue between you and your audience and you need to establish this dialogue.

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    5. They don’t focus on negative people in the crowd

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      The reason a lot of people avoid eye contact with people in the audience has a lot to do with their fear of finding people who are outwardly showing signs of disapproving what they are saying.  What do you do when you run into people like that? Well, nothing, you merely skip over them and focus on those who are saying “Yes” instead of “No”. Draw your energy from them and keep them with you. There are always going to be people who disapprove and if you chase for everyone’s approval you are only going to put yourself down.

      6. They don’t forget about their accent

      If you are not a native English speaker, then you are bound to have an accent (even if you are a native speaker, you likely have distinctive pronunciation habits). The accent isn’t something that you should be worried about if your grammar is decent, but your accent can be hard to decipher for people that have never heard it before. This is why speakers tend to make a short but slow-paced introduction in order to let their audience adjust to their accent. The human ear is a very capable instrument, but it needs a bit of time to make the adjustment, so don’t rush things so you and lose your crowd through most of your introduction while they are still adjusting to your accent.

      7. They don’t forget to breathe

      When in state of panic, our body tends to tense up and our muscles tend to contract. The same thing happens to people who have anxiety. Their body tightens and they forget to breathe which makes them panic even more. They start to stutter and panicked thoughts keep running around their head and they break down. The most basic way is just to always remind yourself to breathe. When speaking in front of a crowd, get on stage, take a couple of breaths and compose yourself before you start talking. Don’t worry, your audience will wait for you and remember that you have control of the situation, so if you need a couple of seconds to catch your breath, take them. It is far worse to elevate your stress level and start losing your flow.

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      8. They don’t focus on a repetitive motions

      Again, repetitive motions like foot tapping, hand and fingers cracking and similar automatic movements are some of those nifty tricks our body uses to get us ready for those fight or flight situations and again, is absolutely useless to us in these kinds of situations. Even though it might seem natural satisfying this urge, it won’t help you feel any better. Quite the opposite, it will make you feel even more under pressure. Furthermore, this is a very outward sign of nervousness which everyone can recognize, which can ruin the credibility of what you are saying. Pacing falls into this category as well, because losing control of this can make you winded, which will definitely influence your diction, your phrasing and so on.

      9. They don’t miss the tone of the subject matter

      Missing the tone is something that can turn into a very awkward situation, but in most cases, it isn’t hard to do. Don’t drag humour where it has no place and strive to show respect to serious things. On the other hand, if your goal is to inspire people, don’t make your tone flat and boring. Rise to the excitement level contained in the words you are vocalizing. Professionals play with tone in order to provoke a more dramatic reaction, but first, you need to be comfortable with the subject matter and be able to find its most natural tone. Then, and only then should you try to experiment with tone. Don’t try to run before you can walk.

      10. They don’t forget to research their audience

      You need to be able to adapt. Not every environment is the same nor are the customs and social norms, so you need to be aware of what is considered polite behaviour and who are the people that you are going to be addressing. This is the same for online mass communication, which sounds complicated, but it’s basically knowing the basic customs when addressing people on Facebook. Similarly, you need some time to adjust to the particularities of a social network and you need to devote some time to finding the right approach for a particular audience.

      11. They don’t EVER forget to show gratitude

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      Gratitude Cicero quote

        People’s attention is a gift and you should thank people for it. Somebody took the time to give you a shot to do your thing and this is an amazing gift. If you take it as a given, you are actually being very rude. Furthermore, people tend to remember and react to polite people better which is essential for good speakers to be remembered.

        Self-control is a bit of an issue with public speech and it is a craft you need to spend your time and your attention on. A bit of talent and a lot of hard work, mixed with productive and immersive practice sessions leads to perfection.

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        Aleksandar Ilic

        Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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        Last Updated on November 18, 2021

        10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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        10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

        We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

        A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

        So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

        • honest
        • reliable
        • competent
        • kind and compassionate
        • capable of taking the blame
        • able to persevere
        • modest and humble
        • pacific and can control anger.

        The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

        1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

        All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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        But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

        2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

        How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

        I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

        “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

        Abigail Van Buren

        3. How does this person take the blame?

        Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

        4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

        You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

        5. Read their emails.

        Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

        • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
        • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
        • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
        • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
        • Too many question marks can show anger
        • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

        6. Watch out for the show offs.

        Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

        7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

        A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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        Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

        8. Their empathy score is high.

        Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

        People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

        9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

        We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

        “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

        Stendhal

         10. Avoid toxic people.

        These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

        • Envy or jealousy
        • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
        • Complaining about their own lack of success
        • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
        • Obsession with themselves and their problems

        Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

        Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

        Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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