Recently we talked about Getting Started with your Million Dollar Presentation. This month we’ll get into the body of the presentation.
Let’s start out by talking a little about “talking.” Every person has a different speaking style and speaking habits that they need to fix.
When I was about 25 years old, I realized that public speaking would be a big part of my life and I really started paying attention to my speaking habits. I consciously started to remove a lot of my ingrained habits. There’s always room for improvement, even now.
One of the phrases I worked hard to keep from my vocabulary was, “You know.” It’s okay to use it occasionally, but do not repeatedly use it. Another word I removed from my speech was, “Okay.” It’s one of those crutch words that people insert as filler. Once you remove these “filler” words and phrases, your speech improves dramatically. What do you replace them with? Nothing! You just remove them, and it’s one of the hardest things to do consciously.
Another phrase that I used all the time was “you’s guys.” Not, “you guys,” but “you’s guys.” I grew up in upstate New York, and it was a natural phrase for us. Another one was “Eh.” I grew up near the Canadian border. If you would’ve heard me back then you would have sworn I was born and raised in Canada, but it was just the way we all spoke.
In our society we’re taught to keep talking and filling in every space so there is no uncomfortable silence. And because silence is uncomfortable, we use filler phrases. The hardest thing to do is remove them from our vocabulary and embrace the silence. Just pausing and not saying anything is very hard, but the best speakers in the world use it to their advantage.
Some people will do things like try hanging on to the next words, like, “Uhhhh…” when former President Obama, spoke he would say, “…and, you know, but we’re doing, uhhhh,” and then he would carry onto the next phrase. He got away with it because he’s a great speaker. But the fact is, it was a crutch he used as filler while he gathered thoughts for his next phrase. If I was his speech coach I would have told him, “You need to consciously focus on removing that ‘uhhh’ filler phrase.”
Everyone has certain things and phrases they should remove from their speech. How do you do it? You focus in on it. You become conscious of it and consciously work to remove it.
I was fortunate because in my very first company I had my whole office correcting my speech. I didn’t realize I said certain things. But every time I said “Eh”, every time I said “you know” or “you’s guys” they would point it out to me. It made me very self-conscious. It caused me to focus on eliminating the phrases from my speech.
When you speak, there’s a certain cadence to your voice. What most people don’t realize is that there is a range to this cadence. When I’m speaking to you, there is a dynamic range to my voice. In order for me to make you pay attention, I need to sometimes speed up or slow down what I’m saying.
I may also need to increase my voice, making it louder, from time to time I may also raise the pitch of my voice, to make it higher. Then at other times I need to slow down my speech in order for the audience to take me more seriously. I sometimes use pauses for dramatic effect to get a person to listen closer. These are all small things, and you already do many of them without even knowing it.
But now you need to start becoming conscious of these things as you speak and that makes it a little more difficult and requires practice.
When people are listening and ALSO watching you during a presentation, you need to be more animated with your hands. The bigger the stage, the more animated you need to be. This will enhance the variance in your voice. If they’re only listening to your voice on a webinar, then you need to use more variance in your voice. Because the only thing that is entertaining them, at that particular time is your voice. It’s very important to realize how different it is to present on a webinar or phone call versus in person. Your voice is the ONLY thing that is keeping them on the line.
I can guarantee you one thing. Your PowerPoints are not that exciting, and neither are mine, so you must utilize your voice to keep the people excited and entertained.