Do you lack confidence in your speaking abilities every time you have a speech, presentation, or discussion in class? Do you have a speech competition coming up? In a world where communication through technology, writing, and especially speaking, are vital, it’s important to hone in on your speaking skills and make sure you have the skills necessary to effectively prove points and communicate with others!
1. Tone Inflections
Have you ever listened to someone who spoke without any tone inflections, changes, or voice dynamics? We all know that listening to a professor speak in the same monotonous voice for even a minute can seem like forever. However, when their voice changes from low to high, mellow to enthusiastic, tired to energetic, those lectures can get a lot more interesting and engaging! When you’re practicing a speech, participating in class, or even talking with a friend, make sure you’re utilizing those tone inflections to engage your audience. The best part about incorporating tone variations while speaking is that they not only keep your audience’s attention and focus, but they also emphasize certain points that you want to highlight.
For instance, if you’re presenting an ASB campaign at your school, talking in the same drawl tone won’t present you in a very outgoing way. However, when you talk louder and bolder in some parts, and softer/gentler during others, your audience will consistently stay focused on what you’re saying, as well as feel and understand the emotions that you’re conveying through your words. Also, be sure to clearly pronounce the significant words that you want to emphasize in your speech. That way, the most important words will stand out from the multitude of words you’re saying in a short amount of time.
2. Hand motions
Okay, so now you’ve got the tone down! You’ve mastered the way of speaking that will truly capture your audience’s attention and make them attentive all throughout your speech! However, there’s one big problem. You ask yourself, Where should my hands be? How should I place or position them? If I let them hang down the entire time, it feels awkward, and if I hold my hands together at the back, that also looks weird! WHAT SHOULD I DO?! Well, I’ve got just the right tips for you 🙂
The most important thing while speaking is to make sure that your hand/arm movement and position is completely natural and doesn’t feel too awkward or uncomfortable. Another important thing to note is that you don’t have to place your hands in the same exact place throughout your entire speech. Feel free to change where they are, how you move them, and more!
Now obviously, hand movements are largely dependent on what your speech is about, the times you want to emphasize certain things, and how YOU specifically move your hands naturally. If you’re explaining a chronology or listing a sequence of events, gradually move your hands from the left to the right, almost making a “timeline” with your hands. Feel free to naturally and comfortably move your hands based on the movement you think would best emphasize your point.
3. Familiarity/Confidence (memorization)
This step requires perhaps the most time, preparation and effort – memorization. As with any subject or talent, memorization and practice are needed to achieve not only mastery, but also confidence. Try making sure that you’ve fully memorized your piece/speech at least a few weeks before you need to present it. Personally, I love rehearsing my speech in my head or out loud (of course, when no one else is around!) wherever I go.
When you practice, it doesn’t always have to be at the exact same speed you’ll speak when you present during the competition or ceremony, though you should also make sure you do a healthy combination of various speeds. For instance, I love repeating my speech so many times until I feel as if I can say it from start to end without consciously thinking of the next sentence, topic, or word. I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to test your confidence is to rehearse it in the shower! When you shower, your mind is on auto-pilot, which means that as you speak or think, your mind isn’t intentionally putting in effort to do so. When you can say your entire speech from beginning to the end while showering, you can confidently declare that you know your speech from the back of your hand 😉
Okay, so we’ve covered how to keep your audience engaged by speaking in multiple tones and adding tone inflections, emphasizing and demonstrating certain points with your hand motions, and taking the measures to provide the confidence and practice you need to perfect your speech…but you might be wondering, through all of this, how should I stand? How should I look? If you asked that question, be sure to keep on reading (and if you didn’t, you still might want to continue reading because this will definitely provide you with some helpful tips!).
When presenting your speech, it’s super important to pay attention to your posture. While standing, make sure your shoulders are back, your feet shoulder-width apart (this will also ensure that you don’t lose your balance mid-speech!), and that you make sure any pacing/movement is not a distraction to your audience.
5. Be free. Be YOU!
If you’ve reached this far, CONGRATULATIONS! I saved the best for last! The most important part of presenting a speech is to keep your authenticity. Allow your genuineness to SHINE through what you say. Remember that there’s only one YOU and that by just being your natural, confident self, you’ll definitely stand out! So remember: even with all these tips, never lose your self-confidence, resilience, and authenticity! Before stepping up to present your speech, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and have the faith in yourself to know that you’ll do AWESOME! YOU GOT THIS!
By ~ Joni