Sunday, 28 July 2013

Body language: the key to communication

Hi all,
For my 4th blog I thought I would share some secrets about public speaking and body language. Most people don;t know that your body communicates over 50% of your message. In fact, it is 55% to 70% of your message.

That means what you do with your posture, face, eyes, hands, gestures, feet and movements tell your audience more than the words.It also means that you need to make sure all of these non verbal communication aspects work for you. They need to be deliberate and purposeful. They need to be relaxed and in keeping with what you are saying, so they enhance your message, not detract from it.

Let's look at posture. Posture means that you walk on tall and straight. You stand in front of the audience, looking pleased to be there (even if you are nervous) and you do not rush to begin. Your back should be straight, hands relaxed by your sides and you need to smile!

Once you start to talk, your body should help you, especially gestures. This means if you want to illustrate something, the hands might come up to show what you mean, whether it's numbers or directions or the shape of something. You do not have to make gestures, but if you do, make sure they are definite and relevant. What you MUST avoid, are gestures you do not intend to make: pulling on clothes, penguin gestures, or hands in pockets. All these will communicate negatively. They will detract from your presentation, not help it.

Then there is eye contact. Eye contact needs to be on the eyes of the audience, every time you speak. If you find it too difficult to look them in the eye, you can look at their third eye. If the audience is large, say over 200 people, look at sections at a time. However, you cannot look behind the audience, at the ceiling, at the floor or out the window. That will lose your audience, very quickly. Generally it is a couple of words to each person and your eyes should move like a lazer beam. Do not scan a room and do not move your eyes so quickly that you look like a frightened rabbit!

Facial expressions are vital. The main rule is that the face should reflect the mood of what you are saying. Your face needs to smile when you are delivering good news or saying something positive. Likewise, it needs to loo sad when the topic is sad.This maybe obvious, but I have seen people (out of nerves, usually) smile or even laugh when they are saying something supposedly serious. It looks stupid.

Keep movements to a minimum. Only move slowly and deliberately. Only move keeping your body facing the audience. Then move backwards to your original spot. If you need to use Power Point, only flash your eyes to the monitor, not to the screen..The only time to move from one side of the stage to another, is if you are speaking to a large audience and there are thousands of people out there.

Finally, your feet need to be still, not rocking, crossed over or shuffling. Keep them planted firmly on the floor and about a foot apart.

There is much more to body language than meets the eye! AS it communicates so much of your message, make sure it supports you and does not contradict what you say. If there is a contradiction, your audience will believe your body.

Finally, to get rid of unfortunate habits, like blushing, shaking and sweating, tell your body to relax. If you say to it:"Don't shake!" it will shake more, So just talk to it nicely. When you are not sure what to do with your hands, leave them relaxed by your sides. When you are ready and confident, they will just come up and work for you.

For more tips, visit my website:

Monday, 15 July 2013

Hi All,
This is Blog 3 and once again will be full of practical ideas and great tips for those of you who want to be GREAT COMMUNICATORS.
The focus today will be on how to prepare.

The first things to realise before you prepare are: who you are speaking to; why you are speaking to them ; and for how long. This may seem pretty obvious, but if you get any of them wrong, your presentation won't be very successful. Well, not as brilliant!

The main thing is to know what you are talking about. Chances are that you will have been asked to speak because you are an expert. If not an expert, someone thinks you should/could/ought to speak to these people about this topic. Still, it's a good idea to do some more research. Maybe see the latest writings, and who is writing on the topic. Look for some great quotes. Look for some engaging case studies or anecdotes (either from your own repertoire or others) And most of all, think about what your audience would find interesting/relevant/engaging.

The structure of the speech looks like this: Grab 'em by saying something relevant and engaging. Tell 'em what you are going to tell 'em. This is the summary. Tell 'em This is the bulk of the speech and each section should follow a structure,which I will explain in a moment. Tell 'em what you have told 'em You summarise. And finish with a bang: Do not say "Thank you"at the end

The body of the talk should follow this structure, which is repeated for each point: T E E R L. This means you tell them the TOPIC of the section. You ELABORATE by expanding or explaining the point. You give some EVIDENCE.(ways of giving evidence and the best evidence will be in the next blog). You REINFORCE the point you have made and how the evidence has helped. You LINK to the next point.

Now that you have written your speech, you are half way there. The next thing is to practise. I wrote in the last blog that you need to practise AS IF. So now you do. At least 13 times. You may even visit the place if that is convenient.

The question of having it written out in full, or dot points on cards is a question of your style and experience.
You need to know it well enough that you just glance down.

Before I finish this week's blog I just want to remind you, that a speech is not a report or an essay. You need to use plenty of questions, paint plenty of pictures, use the word "you" heaps of times.

Let me know if these tips are helpful.

There are plenty more. I will blog you next week

Judith Field   Direct Speech

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Tricky speaking "nerves"

Hi all,
Blog number 2 deals with that tricky aspect of speaking called "nerves". In this post I am going to share some great ways to minimise them! The word I used is "minimise", not get rid of. You almost can;t get rid of the nerves. You would not want to. It is  scary thing to be out the front and everyone staring at you.SO, JUST ACCEPT THAT A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF NERVES are NORMAL.

However, that's the thing; you want everyone staring at you! What is worse, would be you looking at the audience and all of them NOT looking at you. So, what you want is for them to be nodding and smiling back and giving you non verbal feedback. If someone is looking down, they may be an auditory listener. So, don;t assume they are bored.

Okay, let's get to these tips. The first one is that if you know your subject and you are passionate about it, you should feel reasonable about speaking to them. Usually, you have been invited to speak, because you are considered very well versed in the topic. If you are not confident on the topic, become more of an expert before you speak. However, you do not need to know everything before you say anything!

Next, when you practice, practise as if you are in front of the audience. This will make you a little more nervous as you go through your presentation, but once you are really there, you will think that you have been there many times; because you have, in your head.

The third tip is very important and related to the last tip. You need to get rid of the negative voice in your head that is telling you things that do not help. You need to focus on what you are saying to the people in front of you, NOT ON WHAT THEY MAY OR MAY NOT BE THINKING OF YOU.

The next thing to minimise nerves is to be well prepared.Most people practise three times. Not enough! I think you need to practise at least 13 times (as if). That way you will be much more confident. Practise the start and especially the end, so you finish on a strong note.

We are have to breathe, otherwise we die. However, when it comes to speaking in front if people, some people hold onto their breath and make themselves short of breath. One of the best ways of feeling more relaxed is to give yourself permission to breathe deeply while speaking. It will give you pauses and volume as well as allow you to speak at a reasonable pace.

Tensing up and relaxing the muscles before you go on is also a good idea. Do this i the privacy of the toilets.
Some people tense up their whole bodies and relax. Other just tense up shoulders  and face. It's also a great idea to go to the toilet before you speak! 

Lastly, walk on tall, take a big breath before you speak, smile and dive off that diving board like a swallow.   The keep flying. You will reach safe shores before you know it.

One thing that I need to add before signing off today, is DO NOT IMAGINE THEM in their underwear! It's rude, sexist and likely to make you giggle! Instead, imagine you are speaking to one friend, one friend, one friend. That way the audience will seem less daunting.

I hoe these tips and tricks work for you. Send me your suggestions. I am always looking for more tips to share

Monday, 1 July 2013

First blog! And some speaking tips to make you a better speaker

Hi all,
This is my first blog. From the start I want to make it interesting and relevant to all of you who want to be better speakers.
The thing I want to clear up is a misconception about what speaking really is. Most people thin it's about speaking! The truth is that while what you say IS important, it's even more important HOW you say it and what you do with you BODY. If you do not know this already, let me share some statistics.
If we consider that public speaking is made up of BODY LANGUAGE, VOICE VARIETY and WORDS, the largest % is in your non verbal communication. Up to 70% of your message is conveyed by your posture, movements and eye contact and especially, your facial expressions. The next biggest factor is your VOICE. You need to vary it as much as you can, by changing the pace, volume, pitch, tone, emphasis, even your timbre. This part of speaking can be as much as 38%. Now I know that leave nothing for the words themselves. They can contribute by themselves up to 10%. These words should be short, sharp and create pictures in your audience's mind. That means lots of adjectives, active verbs and poetic devices.

I will go into more details over the months, but for my first blog I hope you got at least something out of it. By the way, timbre refers to the quality of your voice. Mine is husky, middle aged and no longer sexy. However, it does resonate and when I talk, people listen. Do they listen to you?