3 Great Speaking Tips

obama-speaksBased in Oregon USA, Barbara Kite is an actress-turned-coach who draws on the performing arts to improve people’s speaking skills. I’d recommend her blog and was drawn to 3 simple tips she offers for improving our presentations. She talks about filling the room with energy, not by talking louder – more by changing the way we think and feel. We have to ‘feel’ that we inhabit every corner of the room as we speak. Acting coaches sometimes refer to this as the third circle of concentration – the way we project our energy to all sections of the room.

Second, we have to breathe properly – crucial in singing, equally so in public speaking. But when we’re nervous we often hold our breath and the voice suffers. Here’s a few breathing tips for speakers.

Third, she reminds us to slow down. Again, nerves usually makes us speak faster. Maybe we want to get it over with? Or perhaps we just want to avoid spaces, worrying we’ll lose the audience or allow others to interrupt? But spaces are powerful. They’re the mark of a confident speaker.

There’s an interesting exercise you can do. Read a piece of text out loud and have someone time it, and listen to it. Then read it again, and make it slower. Ask your partner to time it. The difference between 30 seconds to 35 seconds seems HUGE when you’re speaking, but it nearly always sounds much better. You’ll insert more pauses and employ more modulation in your voice. It’s more enjoyable to listen to and more convincing.

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