Recently I was coaching a client for an upcoming presentation. He’s smart. He knows what he wants to say and what he stands for. He’s good at his job and wants to keep strengthening his team’s skills. And he wants to get his ideas across with clarity and impact. Here are some tips that are working for this successful executive.
Connection. Where is your audience? How many people are there? When addressing them, do you have open body language (seen from most, if not all, vantage points; uncrossed arms and legs) or closed? Are you connecting with your audience members, or sharing ideas with each and every one? By focusing on these fundamental ideas, our executive’s presentation was greatly enhanced and improved.
Articulation. My client knows that he needs to be understood clearly, if he wants his ideas to have an impact. That’s why I work with him on developing a clear, open voice with clearly articulated consonants. Hitting D’s and T’s and end consonants in your presentation helps people to understand both your words and ideas. “Bidden” can sound like “Bidding” if you’re not hitting that end G. “Writ” can sound like “Rid.” “Said” can sound like “set.” These details may sound small, but when you add them up, they can detract from your audience’s connection to you and comprehension of your ideas. Remember: we’re not talking about OVERarticulation here— hitting ev-er-y sin-gle syll-a-ble— but rather a way of speaking that emphasizes important words and sounds.
Pacing. When our work first began, our executive was getting through his speech, but he was rushing through the words and ideas. By simply slowing down, breathing and making sure that his ideas were not simply being spoken, but were landing, his presentation vastly improved. Words became clearer. His natural confidence began to shine through. The ideas that were important to his speech were suddenly in the foreground. Of course, we always have to stay within timelines, deadlines and guidelines of a speaking engagement, but outside of that, there is no reason to rush through your words or sentences. Take a breath. Enjoy what you’re about to say.
These are just three of the many ideas that my client and I are utilizing in our coaching sessions. As our work progresses, we are developing speaking skills that have impact and influence—and that can cover everything from purpose to performance. As advanced as our work becomes, it’s still built on a foundation of clear connection, articulated speech, and varied pacing.