Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Yes, it's brilliant.  I'm not exaggerating, the method below will do all this for you: 

  1. it's easy to do (many people get this in just a few minutes) and it's easy to turn into a habit.
  2. it will lend you the look and sound of personal authority
  3. you'll feel more in control
  4. it will instantly cure your ums and ahs
  5. if you have a strong accent (English a second language?) it will make you instantly more understandable.

All that from one, very simple idea. I call it 'Speaking in packets'. Let me spell it out:

Don't slow down. Instead, speak a phrase (or short sentence) at your normal pace, then pause for just one second (a single heartbeat) before you start the next phrase.

That's all there is to it. The extraordinary thing is that you're still speaking at your normal fast pace, but the audience does not think of it as too fast.  Here's an example - try reading it aloud with the heartbeat pauses:

What I suggest (...deliberate 1 second pause...) is that we start the new schedule immediately.(...deliberate pause...) At the moment, some of our clients are confused (...deliberate pause...). Jamie says he's had 10 calls just this morning from clients who don't know when to make the corresponding change in their own systems.. (...deliberate pause...) We can't let that confusion continue.

Notice that the pausing is not regular or predictable. That longer second-to-last sentence still does not seem too fast, now that you've established a controlled pace.

Now try it out with your own words.  Tell your friend in the mirror why you enjoy your sport or hobby.   Don't worry about where to pause, in just a few minutes you'll find yourself in a rhythm where it happens naturally.

That word 'deliberate' is important. Even in that tiny pause, you are making it obvious that you're making the audience wait for the next bit. They respect that. (Points 2 and 3 on the list above.)  And of course, it you are deliberately making them wait, you'll automatically cure the habit of filling silence with ums. (Point 4.)  Strong accent? The silences give the audience a chance to let each bunch of words sink in and make sense. (Point 5.)

Try it out on a trusted work colleague with a serious work topic. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Well? Are you pleasantly surprised? In that case go to this self-administered master class: make some pauses longer, and during the silence look from one part of your audience to another. You will look convincing, confident, in control. Believable.

I'm excited by how good this 'packets' method is - I've seen the results directly in my presentation skills workshops. But I would also love to hear how it works for you. Do let me know through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Always? Whatever your message? Whatever the audience?

Yes.  It's simple and it makes people listen. In fact it's compelling. No-one goes to sleep.

Always show your desire for the audience to get your message. Not in your words but in your way of speaking.

Show.  It's not enough to just want your audience to get the message. They have to see that you want that. Here's how to make it happen: 

  • As you speak, your eyes seek out individuals in the audience - hold just a second or two on one, then move to the next. Switch contact quickly between individuals - switch and hold, switch and hold. A sense of urgency or importance.
  • Make your whole body work with your eyes. Turn your body, not just your head. Your torso should incline (at least slightly) towards each individual. Your hands should move (at least slightly) towards each individual. The audience should see your eyebrows rise, indicating your sense of the importance of your message. Sometimes you'll nod at individuals (a small movement).

This is not about enthusiasm for your own message. It is about connecting the audience to the message.

But will this way of speaking work for you? 

You may need to try it out in safety first. Ask at least two people (whose opinion you trust) to be guinea pigs and give you feedback.  Deliver them just two or three sentences from your topic.  The first time, just speak in your normal way. The second time, make a small change to the method above. If your friends like the change, do it again but more so.  Get their feedback.  How well does it work?  How much is too much?

Also, ask yourself which is more important - your message, or what your audience thinks of you?  I hope the answer is obvious.  It's an old saying but so very true for speakers - get over yourself. But the best part is this: if you put the importance of your message ahead of your worries about yourself, you'll get more respect anyway. Neat.

Kia kaha
Michael

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About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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