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Powerboost Your Speech With One Simple Trick

Powerboost Your Speech With One Simple Trick

When we meet a person, our first impression is based on their body language and their speech. When someone goes up on a stage, or gives a presentation at a business meeting, many pairs of eyes will be following and judging this person. If you are up there and talking, you want to give your best impression.

While many workshops and online videos focus on teaching us how to adjust our body language to come across as confident and convince others of our message, less attention is given to how we phrase things. Speech should flow, but there is this one little bad habit most of us have; one that builds a dam in our flowing sentences. This habit makes our message sound as if we are building our foundations on quicksand.

Do you know which bad habit I mean?

It is the habit of using that not-even-a-word in too many sentences. It is the habit of saying “uhm”—something we generally are not even aware of. When we let this habit slip into our speech, it weakens our message, and our audience and clients will be less convinced of our claims.

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Make a pledge today: drop the “uhm”.

The nasty thing about “uhm” is that it’s often too tiny to even notice. It has become part of our expressions and virtually everybody does it, therefore, it takes practice and effort to unlearn stuffing our sentences with it.

To get a hold of your bad habit of using “uhm”, you can try the following exercises:

1. Record your speech when you prepare.

To go from using “uhm” without even noticing it, to awareness of this bad habit is the first step to making a change. When you prepare for a presentation, make sure to record yourself.

Ideally, you can use a videocamera on a tripod to record your speech and body language. Most of us, however, prepare presentations by sitting in front of the computer screen and talking through the slides to see if we meet the time requirements. If you prepare in this way, simply use a voice recorder.

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After recording your speech, listen to it. Pay close attention, and mark down on a sheet of paper the number of times you said “uhm”. You might be unpleasantly surprised.

2. Write out your entire speech beforehand.

We use “uhm” when we know the contents and message that we want to get across to our audience, but not the exact sentences and formulations to actually deliver our ideas, so the best way to prepare for a speech and to distill our message into crystal-clear sentences is by writing out the entire speech beforehand.

This practice might seem too much work. You should remember though that 1 minute of public speaking requires 1 hour of preparation time, as Wayne Burgraff famously stated.

If you are serious about delivering your best and getting your message through in the very best way, then spend enough time on writing out your speech and improving it time and time again.

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3. Center and focus.

Before addressing a client or an audience, take a moment to center yourself. You can take a few deep breaths, and a 5-minute body scan, in which you pay attention to tension in your shoulders, how you clench your jaw, or any tension you feel in your neck.

Then, take half a minute to set your mind to your goal. Simply remind yourself of the main purpose of your speech or meeting.

You are ready to go now. Give it your best shot, enjoy the ride and don’t judge yourself while you are talking—it will only distract you. Be in the moment. Be your message and your goal.

4. Pay attention when you talk to friends.

Your practice does not end when you leave the stage or your job. Even when you talk to friends or strangers, pay attention to your exact formulations, and cut down on the “uhm”-ing.

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One way of actively paying attention and correcting your habit, is by wearing an elastic band around your wrist during your leisure time. Whenever you catch yourself on saying “uhm”, simply shift the elastic band to your other wrist. This practice trains your mind to notice your use of “uhm”, and eventually omit it.

5. Slow down.

If you have a bad case of the “uhm”s, then train yourself in speaking a little more slowly. Teach yourself to leave a few seconds of air in between your sentences. The purpose of slowing down is to align your mind with your speech, so you give your mind the time to clearly define what you want to say, before actually speaking.

With these tools, you are ready to make a more coherent, decisive and calm impression on your audience, your clients, your friends and random strangers. Radiating with a more composed attitude will not only improve your speech, but will eventually increase the respect others show towards you.

 

 

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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