How many speeches do you remember?  Do you know why?

You must have heard it often – “It’s not what you say but how you say it.”

In order to be memorable, you need to connect to the audience on an authentic and an emotional level.  94% of speakers use their ‘SPEAKING VOICE’ – the one where you speak quickly, quietly and in a monotone. And that is why people don’t remember any of your important messages.  Is your voice a disembodied sound or is it connected to your message and the real you?

In my coaching practice I see a lot of speakers who don’t realize that their ‘Speaking Voice’ is what’s killing any chance of getting their message across.

Your ‘Speaking Voice’ is different from the normal every-day voice you use when talking to friends and co-workers – the one that sounds natural, is connected to your body and is conversational.  And yet most speakers don’t even think about using any other voice but their SPEAKING voice for presentations.  This voice is usually higher, faster, more monotone and sounds as if you are imitating a speaker.  On top of that there is usually less energy and clarity in that voice.

(and remember) YOUR MESSAGE.


First – Ditch the ‘speaking voice’

You know what I mean – you clear your throat and you connect to your head and bring your voice up an octave and speak the words the way you feel a good speaker would say them.  Instead try to speak from your heart and breathe before you start speaking and throughout your speech (it will slow you down), connecting to your feelings and giving them to your audience.  In other words have a conversation with the audience – don’t give a speech.

It is a common problem I run into with the people I work with.  We think that there is a special ‘speaking voice’ we need to use to sound like a confident, professional, respected speaker.  That voice usually belongs to someone else, someone you’re copying, not you.  And the truth is that the audience won’t listen to you until they hear your authentic voice, because if your message is to be believed then first your voice needs to be connected to your body and your feelings.

That also means that even before you speak, you must consider carefully how you write your speech.  Is it coming  from that authentic, conversational place – the place where you speak to people trying to engage them in your ideas and interact with their responses?  Because if you write from your head and then try to speak those words, it will sound as if you are reading words that don’t really matter to you.  The feelings come first, the words second.  Every actor knows this.

So sit down with a friend and tell them what excites you about the next speech you are giving and how it will be helpful to the listeners and engage them in your passion.  Then you can edit and then you can “memorize” the speech and then the most important part – forget it and improvise.  You may not know it, but you know this speech, and if you miss parts of it then realize that what you do remember comes from your heart and will be heard.  It doesn’t come from the page where it will certainly be forgotten.

Second thing to do is to slow down.

Most speakers rush through their speeches.  Let them hear your words and absorb your ideas one at a time before they move on to the next one.  This takes practice.  It means you have to read something out loud, every day, at half, (yes I said half) the speed you normally do.  Only that kind of exercise will slow you down – some.

The third thing to do is to listen

That’s right, speak to the individual people in the audience, pause, and listen to their response and adjust and continue.  (See the previous newsletter for detailed information on LISTENING.)


My next GREAT SPEAKERS USE ACTING SKILLS WORKSHOP will be held on Saturday, October 19th 2013. Interested? Here’s more Information.

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