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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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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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