My name is Kit Pang from BostonSpeaks, and I’m here to teach you how to become a better public speaker. If you are an entrepreneur, business owner or freelancer, you are your own product or service. You’re always going to be in front of people whether it be one-on-one, in groups or in public speaking situations. Do you know how to influence others? Do you know how to come across as professional and articulate?
My system of becoming a better speaker can be spelled out in the acronym S.P.E.A.K.:
S – state of mind
P – posture & body language
E – eye contact
A – annunciation & vocal variety
K – (k)onnection
Think Like a Public Speaker
First, let’s talk about the mindset of a great public speaker. Personally, I used be very shy. I grew up in an Asian family where we were hesitant to express ourselves. I didn’t know how to speak up because, in my state of mind, I didn’t know what to say. And by the time I raised my hand, the topic would have changed five times already. So as a business owner, what kind of a state of mind do you have when it comes to speaking in public?
For example, if you’re in a networking group and everyone has to introduce themselves, that fear of public speaking might build up. How can you put yourself in a better state of mind? In that situation, you might feel nervous but instead, you should focus on how to motivate yourself. Studies show that people who are in a motivated and confident mindset are more engaging and bring more value to their audience.
Don’t Slouch-Posture and Body Language
My favorite part of S.P.E.A.K is the posture and body language; whenever I teach a workshop, this is always everyone’s favorite part. First hack: I always put my hands together in front of me. No matter what I say, I always sound sound a little more intelligent.
If you don’t know what to do in the hands, put them in what I like to think as the “intelligent pose.” If you want to seem more intelligent and friendly, you can put your palm up and point to your audience. This is an opening, inviting posture. The key is to look at the audience member and point to them at the same time. It’s almost as if you’re asking your them what they think, welcoming them with this posture.
Try to keep eye contact for 5 seconds. Look at them and connect with them as if it were a one-on-one conversation. This is another way to visually engage with your audience.
The good thing about body language is you can use it as a cue when memorizing your talk. If you start your speech a certain way or if you have a gesture in a specific paragraph, you can memorize the cues along with the actual words. Some other important gestures to keep in mind are:
- Keep your hands movements within a box; leave when you want to talk about something important or particularly creative.
- Move your feet to face the audience member you’re engaging. By turning your feet as well as your upper body, you’re offering your complete attention.
- Lean in to engage and captivate further.
If you know how to control your body language, you can control your audience.
You can engage people visually, but you can also use vocal variety to engage what they hear. Just like body language tips, vocal variety can captivate your audience. Think of how slow, fast, soft, loud. You can practice your vocal variety in normal, everyday conversations. Your power comes from knowing how to play around with your voice.
The best exercise for your state of mind, body language, and vocal variety is to just count up to 20. While doing so, practice different deliveries with different cues and different vocal patterns.
Logical and Emotional Content to Connect With Your Audience
Next, let’s talk about content creation. When I first began learning about communication, there is always a section on ethics. When you’re taught about persuasion and influence, you have to use it for better. However, I cannot help you “create” your own content; I can help you understand how to connect with people every single time.
When we are in the presence of a great speaker, their stories will hook you in every single time. If you want your content to connect with people, you need to connect to the head and to the heart. There’s nothing wrong with only logical and factual information, but it won’t be engaging because it’s boring. On the other side of the spectrum, if you only talk to the heart by telling anecdotes, people will wonder, “What’s the point?”
To avoid both extremes, use the P.R.E.P method (Point, Reason, Example, Point). Use this as a foundation. Here’s how P.R.E.P works: if I want to talk about the iPhone, the “point” is that the iPhone is an amazing piece of technology. The “reason” is it’s ability to connect people around the world.
For “example,” the other day I was chatting with my friend, and with the iPhone, we were able to FaceTime immediately. This goes back to the “point” that the iPhone is amazing. This P.R.E.P model is succinct and convincing. You can also include stories (personal stories, stories about a friend or case studies) to connect to the heart.
Models that have analyzed all the great historical speeches show that 65% of a great speech is based on emotional appeal, 25% on logical appeal, and 10% on credibility. If you want to engage people, prove your credibility, then connect with them on the emotional side before providing logic.