Public speaking comes in different forms. It doesn’t always mean delivering an inspirational speech in front of a big audience. As a manager, you need to speak confidently when holding presentations, leading trainings, motivating your team, and consulting with others. Whatever the topic, there are some tricks for getting your message across effectively and being a convincing speaker. One of the ways to get there is to learn from the best of the best – from world-famous speakers like Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and Barack Obama.
Winston Churchill: Establish Your Own Speaking Style
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When planning your speech, mind the fact that the attention span of an average person is about 18 minutes. If your speech is longer, you might lose the attention of your audience. To stop that from happening, Churchill spoke in short well-structured sentences, which made his speeches direct and snappy. That’s how he managed to deliver his messages quickly and effectively.
- Perform your speech. Winston Churchill, one of the most recognized British Prime Ministers of all time, knew how to make his speeches memorable. To make sure that your speech is not monotonous or boring, be expressive. What Churchill delivered was more of a performance, which is what gave him a long-standing reputation as an orator.
- Embrace the power of silence. Churchill knew how and when to pause to make his words more impactful. By embracing silence, Churchill managed to accentuate the parts of the speech he wanted people to pay special attention to. You shouldn’t be scared of making 3- to 8-second pauses between certain sentences, as it will only make your words count.
- Add your charisma. To touch the hearts of your listeners, make your speech dynamic and credible by giving it a personal touch and delivering it in your own manner. Churchill’s example proves that charismatic delivery will make your audience remember what you’ve said.
NB: Executive speech coach Patricia Fripp advises structuring your information well by having an outline of the main points you wish to discuss. For example, imagine you have to speak in front of the executive board of your company. It’s crucial that your delivery is well paced and structured so everyone on the board understands what you’re trying to communicate. Public speaking skills are even more important if you have to manage several teams simultaneously and motivate all of your teams to perform well.
If you’re scared that you won’t be able to reveal your charisma and deliver your speech properly because of performance anxiety, watch this TED Talk by Joe Kowan where he tells you how to battle stage fright:
Margaret Thatcher: Get People to Listen to You
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- Study your audience. To be more convincing with her messages, Margaret Thatcher, a former British Prime Minister, always made sure to connect with her audience on an emotional level. Before presenting a speech, Thatcher analyzed what kind of audience she was going to face and adjusted the text and delivery style accordingly. She captured the mood of the people, the event, and the country in general.
- Control your pitch. Having a steady pitch when delivering your speech is crucial if you want to sound convincing. Margaret Thatcher learned how to shift to a lower pitch, as it’s seen as more authoritative.
- Get a speech coach. Choosing among digital transformation courses or thinking about what books to read next? Consider taking a public speaking course, as Margaret Thatcher did. To boost her confidence in public speaking, Thatcher hired a speaking coach who taught her how to control her pitch and sound convincing no matter how challenging the audience.
NB: Did you know that people tend to pick leaders with a lower voice, whether they’re male or female? This is because a lower-pitched voice sounds more authoritative, reliable, and trustworthy than a higher-pitched voice. Knowing this rule of the “voice of a leader,” Thatcher managed to lower her voice by 46 hertz, which placed it between the typical male and female vocal ranges.
If you are a female leader, you might have already faced the problem of not being heard or not being taken seriously during a meeting or presentation simply because of the way your voice sounds. Thatcher’s experience might inspire you and give you ideas on how to improve your public speaking so everyone will appreciate your input. A film called The Iron Lady shows the path Thatcher took to becoming a better public speaker.
To be and sound confident, you also need to master the body language that defines a leader. In this TED Talk, Amy Cuddy tells you how your body language impacts the way people see you:
Barack Obama: Don’t Rush
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- Use gestures. Using gestures communicates clarity of thinking and gives your audience confidence in your leadership skills. When delivering speeches, former US President Barack Obama uses gestures to punctuate the sentences he wants to be remembered.
- Manage your voice. If Barack Obama were to give a master class in public speaking, he would probably want everyone to recognize the importance of voice control: lowering your volume or raising it to accentuate the key points. Barack Obama also has very good diction and pronunciation, which makes it easy for people to understand him. To train your enunciation, try these tongue twisters:
- A tutor who tooted the flute tried to tutor two tooters to toot. Said the two to the tutor, “Is it harder to toot or to tutor two tooters to toot?”
- These thousand tricky tongue twisters trip thrillingly off the tongue.
- Top chopstick shops stock top chopsticks.
- Establish a rhythm. Artfully pausing, slowing down, and speeding up your speech helps people follow the main idea better. Pauses have an effect on listeners, drawing their attention to certain ideas.
Here is a master class based on Barack Obama’s public speaking skills that will teach you how to captivate your audience:
Want to be even more effective at project management? Aside from getting better at conveying your message, you might consider using a PM tool that keeps you updated on all your projects and the performance of all your teams.
What are your tips and tricks when it comes to speaking in front of an audience? Share your experience in the comments section below.