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9 Awesome Speaking Tricks You Haven’t Tried

9 Awesome Speaking Tricks You Haven’t Tried

A couple of years ago, I decided to do something about my fear of public speaking. Like any fear, it was a self-limiting belief that was a constant burden.

I joined a Toastmasters club, researched best practices and found interesting research from fields like psychology, sociology and business.

Armed with this experience and knowledge, I was able to hack my speaking skills and get better at a fast pace.

Speaking in public is a challenge. But it can definitely be overcome–and even become something you enjoy–by following some awesome speaking tricks that I will share with you today.

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I have them listed by tricks for You and tricks for Them.

Speaking tricks for you are hacks that will help you become more confident, relaxed, and at ease when speaking.

Speaking tricks for them are hacks that will help make you a more effective and entertaining speaker.

FOR YOU:

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Find your idol

I can’t speak like Tony Robbins or like Martin Luther King. Their speaking styles are different from mine. So when I am trying to become a better speaker, I don’t see them as my idols. Instead, I look for great speakers that are like me. People like Malcom Gladwell and Alain de Botton are perfect idols for me to learn from. They are more pensive and light-hearted, like me. Look for speakers who are more like you and learn from them.

Meet the strangers

Before I speak, I always try to meet as many people in the audience as I can. By doing this, I have turned a bunch of strangers into familiar faces. I am also able to find the “friendly face”. This is someone who is naturally supportive and enthusiastic. They are the person you can go back to whenever you’re speaking and feeling nervous or need a morale boost. There’s always at least one in the group — another reason to meet your audience!

Touchy touchy

Think of pictures taken of the aftermath of a disaster. You’ll see a lot of people hugging and embracing each other. When going through a challenging situation, we crave human touch, and standing in front of a crowd to say a few words is definitely challenging. If you feel overwhelmed or scared, use this speaking trick: gently press your thumb and ring finger together and rub them together. You can also clasp your hands every now and then. It’s a subtle, but effective, way to make yourself feel safer.

Move!

Your audience is listening to every word you are saying (hopefully!). This is when you need your wits. Research shows that when our bodies are on the move, our brains gets more oxygen, which helps increase mental sharpness. (Yet another reason to add some physical activity to your day). Find ways of moving around during your speech. Walk from one end of the stage to the other. Use your body language to deliver your message. Ditch the podium and expand your space. Whatever you can do to get oxygen flowing to your noggin.

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FOR THEM:

Keep it simple

You may be telling people a guaranteed way to making one million dollars, but if that message is too elaborate, you will lose them to Angry Birds. Use the rule of three when building your speeches. All speeches must have no more than three key messages you want you audience to learn. Think of those three things and build your speech around them.

Say it again and again and again

The Big Lie is a sociological phenomenon that describes how anything, even a lie, can become true in your head by pure repetition. Business leaders say they need to deliver a message at least seven times for it to be well known. This tells you that anything important must be repeated as much as possible. Find ways of delivering the same message in different ways so that it sticks.

Tell me a story

We love stories. Storytelling is as old as writing and drawing. Mythology and religion have thrived in part because they use many stories to describe truths and beliefs. Most if not all great speakers are also fantastic storytellers. And telling a story is not hard. It’s quite easy, just follow this method: talk about the past, then about the present, and finally about the future. It sounds simplistic, but this is how all good stories are built.

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Time is subjective

Tempo is how fast you speak, and it’s crucial for delivering your message with clarity. One day I rehearsed a speech for my fiancee. At one point I cringed at the extra long pause I took. Afterwards, I asked her for feedback she didn’t even mention it. She said there was no such pause in the speech, and that I should slow down, as I was going too fast. When you are speaking and have the spotlight, and so time feels a lot faster because of this heightened sense of awareness. Consider that when you are speaking. Aim for speaking a bit slower than usual.

Boo!

Human attention is short. This has even been quantified by John Medina, a cognitive scientist and writer of Brain Rules. After 10 minutes, people’s attention starts to drop when they are in a passive role, like being in a meeting, a classroom, or listening to your mom talk to you about multivitamins. To prevent this from happening when you have the floor, add something intriguing every now and then. A stunning visual, a controversial question, or a funny story. Do as much as you can to defy your audience’s expectations, and you’ll keep their attention throughout.

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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