How to Avoid Irritating Your Audience With Your Speech
In the last two blog posts, you discovered How to Deliver a Memorable Presentation and How to Inject Power Into Your Presentation. Now, you’ll uncover the third foundation of public speaking – the Mechanics of your speech.
The Negative Impact of Poor Mechanics
Imagine that you’re listening to a well-known speaker. During his speech, you notice that every 30 seconds, he runs his right hand through his hair. Within 5 minutes, you’re fixated on his hand, waiting for him to run it through his hair again. You don’t hear a single word he says for the rest of his talk!
These are the most difficult parts of the speech to evaluate. Poor mechanics usually stand out more than good mechanics. Excellent speech delivery (ie. vocal variety, facial expressions, or body language) are like the seasoning on a good meal… the finishing touch on a great experience. Poorly seasoned food can ruin that experience.
Of the three parts of a presentation, mechanics are typically the most over-emphasized during speech evaluations. You’ve probably heard a speech delivered with pizzazz, but with no main message or a lousy structure. That speech didn’t have a lasting impact on you.
Message First, Mechanics Second
Many speakers focus too much attention on the delivery of their presentation. They don’t invest enough time on the message or the material. Lance Miller, Toastmasters 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, has said that the “message drives the mechanics of your speech.”
As you create your presentation, remember that phrase. If you are sharing a message for which you feel genuine enthusiasm, your hands, your voice and your face will ‘fall into place.’ They’ll serve as an extension of that message.
How to Improv Your Mechanics
Because some speakers struggle with gestures, here are some other suggestions to help improve the most common mechanics issues:
Hands – one of the most common phrases I hear from new speakers is “I don’t know what to do with my hands!” Drop them to your side, and forget about them. Your hands will follow the action of the speech, especially when you have enthusiasm for your material.
Face – Toastmaster Gary Reece said that “you can’t smile too much when you are presenting.” I wholeheartedly agree. Your face is the first part of you the audience sees. They see your face before you walk on stage. A genuine smile will warm the audience to you, and make them anticipate your message even more.
THE Fastest Way to Improve Your Mechanics
If your mechanics are distracting from your message, the quickest way to improve is to video tape your speeches. I know what you may be thinking… “What?? Video tape myself? I can’t stand to watch myself on video!” If you’re not thinking that, consider yourself lucky, because that’s how most people feel.
It is uncomfortable to watch yourself. Combine the evaluations you receive with a video of your speech. You’ll quickly quickly see the areas that need improvement. You’ll understand what your evaluators are seeing. Video is the quickest way to improve the mechanics of your speech.
Remember, the mechanics of your speech can put the ‘finishing touch’ on a positive experience for the audience. Your enthusiasm will have the most impact on your facial and body gestures. If you find that you have distracting mannerisms, watch video of yourself. Make adjustments. Get up and speak again.
You’ll find that those distractions quickly disappear, while your impact on your audience increases!
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