If you’re not speaking in front of people, then you are effectively not banking the checks already made out in your name.
By putting yourself out there in public view, you become the face and personality of your business and brand. So you need to remain professional and come across as trustworthy and likeable.
You need to perfect your communication skills if you’re doing any of the following:
- Talking to clients on the phone or over Skype
- Taking part in a podcast
- Hosting a webinar
- Recording video for YouTube or using Periscope
- Giving a presentation
- Attending businesses meetings
- Interacting with customers in the real world
Not only is the following going to ensure you master the above skills, it’ll help in other areas of your business and personal life. We are always communicating with others, and it’s something you cannot avoid.
Thankfully, effective speakers are made, not born. And there are ways which you can consciously and carefully clean up your how you speak.
So ask yourself which of the following tics or bad habits are holding you back?
1. Stop Speeding Through Sentences
Have you noticed how most people known for their clear, profession speaking are slow talkers?
It’s no coincidence. They are taking their time. Each word can sink in and resonate with the listener.
They’re coming across as calm, confident and knowledgeable. They’re not panicked. So don’t let anxiety or adrenaline compromise you.
A great example of that is John Lee Dumas, who owns Entrepreneur on Fire (EOFire). He really takes his time talking on his podcasts and when he is speaking at conferences.
(Hint — I will be interviewing him soon for my Wednesday Expert Interviews. He is fabulous and we have already interviewed Kate from EOFire.com. You can check out that interview here.)
And as a result of slowing down, people can actually hear what you’re saying and tune their ears. Then they’ll know that you know exactly what you’re talking about.
Why are you in such an urgency to finish anyway?
2. Spread A Smile
Have you heard of the laughter yoga which has come out of India? People voluntarily laugh to provide physiological and psychological benefits. But very quickly, the forced laughter turns into real, contagious laughter.
And similarly, just by smiling, you can change a mood. It doesn’t matter if it feels forced to start with, soon it will become natural and you will all start smiling together.
Also do this when on the phone to a customer or recording a podcast. Even when people can’t see you, they can tell you’re smiling. That’s because it gives your voice and tone an instant lift.
Plus it puts the people who can see you in a more relaxed mood. Just avoid the crazed and sinister smile.
3. Filling The Gaps
Erm. Like. Uh. Well. Y’know.
These are all common sounds we hear from people as they speak. They’re filling in the empty spaces, and often a tactic we deploy for an extra second of thinking time.
Unfortunately, using these makes you come across as unsure, inarticulate, and even unintelligent. They may even think of you as shifty and dishonest.
And none of that is how you want to come across if you’re hoping to clinch some new business.
So make an effort to stop erming, and the rest. If you’ve planned what you’re going to say before you press record on your phone or get on stage, then you can prevent this being the case.
4. Harness The Pause
Just like slowing down your speech, a few pauses can really emphasize what you’re saying. It gives your listeners a moment to consider what you’re saying. And it makes it sound well thought out and weighty.
A pause works much better than jamming in a few filler sounds. In fact, it can make the listener sit up and take notice.
5. Change Topics Seamlessly
There are going to be moments when you have finished one thought and need to move on to the next. And this is something you’ll want to achieve as smoothly as possible.
However, don’t feel you have to find a tenuous link to help travel between them.
Choose some elegant transitions instead. “Let’s move on…” “Another aspect we can explore…” They’re much better than “So anyways…”
6. Pick Your Words Carefully
When you’re putting yourself out there in front of an audience, you’ll want to impress. One common way of trying to do that is to use long, fancy words. But it isn’t actually about the words you use, but rather the message you’re trying to communicate.
Smaller words can be just as accurate. Plus it simplifies the message, which is particularly handy if you’re trying to explain a difficult concept.
But you should be aware of this harsh truth: Fancier words don’t make you sound smarter. Instead, you can sound pretentious. And that isn’t an opinion you’ll want all your potentials to have of you and the business brand.
So you don’t want to sound like you swallowed a dictionary, but you’ll want to seem like you know what a dictionary is. ‘Word of the Day’ calendars are a painless way of increasing your vocabulary.
7. Avoid Mishap
You’ll want to avoid embarrassing yourself by understanding what you’re saying. For example, if talking about a particularly technical topic, you’ll need to know common terms well enough to use in your daily speech.
You also don’t want to perform the classic politician’s gaffe of using words incorrectly. Don’t use words you’re not 100% sure of the meaning. The risk of using a word you’ve heard people use in passing could lead to a head-in-hands moment. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life cringing at it.
8. Keep Active
I don’t mean run on the spot as you stand at the plinth reading your speech. But put some enthusiasm into what you’re saying. That way, you’ll never get accused of droning on. Our teachers taught us to not write in a passive voice. And that’s also true in your speech as it keeps the listener in the moment.
That’s the difference between “Today’s the day you have to record a video and speak” and “Today’s the day you grab the opportunity to speak with your audience”. Speaking like that holds their attention better and longer.
9. Mind Your Slanguage
It’s totes unlikely peeps will take yo’ message serious by using sloppy speech littered with slang. Would you do business with someone you thought uneducated and inarticulate?
Even if you’re using it as an ironic device for humor, it’s better to avoid it. If someone doesn’t get your joke, then that reflects badly on you. So speak professionally to come across as professional.
10. Clean Your Mouth Out
It’s what your mom always said when you swore, and the threat of soap in your mouth was often enough to stop you. But now you’re grown up and can say what you like? Not strictly true.
This shouldn’t need saying, but avoid swearing and cursing when you’re trying to sound professional. Not only that, but you’ll want to avoid offending anyone. Even avoid language such as “B.S.” or “Swear to God”.
Play it safe, keep in clean, and pretend your Grandmother is in the room with you.
11. Music To Their Ears
A monotone voice will kill your presentation. That’s when everyone starts to fall asleep and you can’t hear yourself talk over the sound of snoring. Or that’s the moment they get bored and start watching another video online. To combat that, add some inflection to your voice.
And I don’t mean the upward inflection the Kardashian clang are renowned for. When you talk like that, you sound apathetic, uninterested and uncertain, regardless of the topic. And this isn’t the attitude you want people to associate with your brand.
Your voice is a tool you have at your disposal. A change of pitch or tone can change the meaning of a sentence, or put emphasis on important words. By making minor modifications, you can sound far more entertaining with a bit of oomph.
Ensure you’re projecting your voice so you can be clearly understood. There’s nothing worse than straining to hear what someone is mumbling.
12. Tick Off The Tics
We’ve either had this happen to ourselves or seen it first-hand. When the nerves get the better of you, your throat starts to close up. Or we suddenly hear ourselves speak, and immediately try to improve how we sound.
But when we clear the throat, we often sound unsure and like we’re trying to hide something. It’s a nervous tic which you need to resist.
Unless, of course, you’re starting to sound gravelly or hoarse. When that’s the case, then just do it. Everyone else can hear you and will understand.
There are many other tics you might have, and if you can, you’ll want to keep them under control. These can include:
- Fidgeting your fingers
- Tapping fingers or feet
- Playing with hair, clothes and jewellery
You don’t want your audience becoming distracted. Plus they can reduce your credibility and show a lack of confidence.
13. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Nerves can often get the better of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re stood in front of your peers giving a presentation or recording a video at home. It can happen with any type of public speaking.
The best and simplest way to keep your wits about you is to take some deep breath. Do this before you get on stage, press record or pick up the phone. It helps to naturally calm your nerves, clear your head, focus your mind and help your projection.
All from 2 or 3 deep breaths.
14. Wrap It Up
A good public speaker also knows when to stop rambling on. They know when to bring it to a close, and bring everything together to one, final thought. It needs to conclusively sum up the message they’ve been communicating.
A good way could be to help the audience achieve what you’ve been discussing. For example, if you’re unsure you have any of the above bad habits or tics, then you may find it beneficial to record yourself speaking. Do this as a dress rehearsal before you go live, so to speak.
It may make for painful viewing, but you might notice that you have a tendency of wringing your hands to death and speak at the speed of light. By casting a critical eye over yourself, you can fine tune yourself to perfection.
Giving your business a face and personality is one of the best things you can do to guarantee its success.
But as a consequence, you need to be very aware of the person you’re projecting out for everyone to see.
Whether that’s on social media, in front of a camera or microphone, at the lectern, or on the end of a phone.
That is the person people will associate with the business. That’s the person you’re asking them to give their money. So that person needs to be the best version of yourself possible.
Grab the cheat sheet below to help you find your brand and voice!
Have you had any experience with bad communicators? Or have you got a cringe-worthy tale of your own to share? We’d love to hear them and we promise not to judge.
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