Sunday, 10 November 2013

Bad Body language and what it could cost you

Hi all,
Over the last months I have been sharing some hot tips on what to do to be a better speaker and I have had one on what not to do. This one focuses on some bad body language and the possible negative consequences.
Just to remind you, body language accounts for up to 70% of your communication, no matter what.
Hence, you want it to work for you and enhance your communication.

Here are some of the things to avoid.

Walking on stage with anything less than looking like you own the place will not start you well.
If you walk up to speak and you are slouching or looking uncomfortable, your audience will pick this up. Instead of being focused on what you are about  to say, they might feel sorry for you or worried for you. That is not what you want. It is not the best way to start. And you have started from the moment you walk up to the podium or platform. So, walk tall and confidently.

The main way to destroy what you say is to over gesture or gesture inappropriately.
You want your hands to work for you. So, any hands in pockets, hands on hips or hands pointing are likely to be seen as aggressive. They can also distract. Too many gestures; gestures that are too big and even gestures that make noises from bangles are inappropriate. You want to make definite ones that support your points and then relax the hands by your sides.

Too much moving can be really off putting.
This includes walking up and down, rocking and crossing feet. The more you move the less they listen.
So generally speaking keep feet still and a little apart. The only exception is in a huge hall where there are 1000s of people. Then a gentle walk/stroll up and down the stage can be appropriate. Never turn your back to the audience. This includes to look at a Power Point. You should have your slides in front of you and just glance at them. Make sure you are not blocking them either.

Your facial expressions must not contradict your content.
If you say you are pleased to be there, look it. Smile. What ever emotion you are expressing your face needs to mirror it. So, if it's serious and you smile, the audience is likely to think  you are uncaring. This applies to eye contact too. You must be looking at them into their eyes or just between their eyes. The only exception is a big audience. This time look at groups of people, say into a grid of six into a large hall. Otherwise, make eye contact with the whole room. Do not look at the back wall or at the floor or out the window. there is no one there. Likewise, do not speak to the lectern or cards. There is no person in the podium or on the paper.

You need to look like you are a winner when you walk off.
If you hurry off or even start to leave the stage before you finish, that will create a poor final impression. So, look tall, speak up and make your body zing.

There is an earlier blog on body language. That has more on what to do than what not to do.
Keep smiling!


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Magic of the right words

Hi All,
Today I thought I would focus more on what you say, even though the words by themselves are just 7% to 10% of your message.

So I do not duplicate what I wrote on the one on words, I am taking a different angle.

First, it is important to establish rapport when you open. Some ways of doing this are the point of this blog.
I will also revisit some of my favourite things to do with words.

Ask them a question. As soon as you ask a question most people will start to reflect on their answer. Try to make it a relevant question. So, if you are speaking about something to do with health,you might ask, "When was the last time you had a complete medical check up?" They will start to think about it and perhaps realise it has been quite some time. Or, they will pat themselves metaphorically on the back, because they had one recently. Either way they will listen t the next thing you have to say.

You can establish rapport by telling a relevant story, either about you or someone else. You might start off with a story like this. "When I had my complete medical check up three months ago, I was delighted to find that my cholesterol was down to 5.5. But I was not happy with my weight loss." I can assure you that most of the women in the audience will sit up and listen. They are interested in weight and how much people have lost or gained, especially compared to themselves.

Another great way of connecting is to make a statement like, "Did you know that the three main killers in western societies are more connected to our lifestyles than anything else?" Death is a real connector and shock is too.

During the body of the speech, use plenty of inclusive language. The words "we", "us" and "our" and especially "you: and your" should be used about 10 times more often than "me", "my" and 'I". Remember, a speech is all about them.

So, moving along, you have their attention and you have signalled where you are going. The next best way to use words effectively is to employ a metaphor. As soon as your audience can picture what you are talking about, the sooner they will relate. I once heard a great speech where every part of it was compared to a bike. It had five parts and each one was a metaphor related to bikes and bike riding. It was clever and memorable. The speaker even came on riding her bike.

If the metaphor is not coming use a simile. "Life is like a chocolate. You do not know whether you have a hard or soft one, until you bite into it." Okay, it's not original, but very few similes and metaphors are.

My other favourites and they will be of the audience too is to use plenty of alliteration. It not only tickles the brain it delights the senses, if used well. So the sentence from Churchill, "I have nothing to offer you but my blood, toil, tears and sweat." works so well because the words go together, create a picture and are metaphoric and ,of course, it;'s full of alliteration.

So, although the words are the least important part, they are also very important. It's what you say and how you say it as well as what you do with your body, that all make a brilliant speech..