Great Speech

In these strange times of physical distancing that may be with us for a lot longer than we think, social gatherings are being minimized, leading to smaller groups of people together at the one time. Family occasions, such as weddings are immediately effected, where the Bride & Groom have to cut invitees significantly. With smaller weddings being the norm for a while, speeches at weddings may be delivered in smaller venues (even in homes) and therefore sound systems i.e. microphone/speakers might not be available to / for the speakers.

Over the years I’ve worked with many clients who have asked me to teach them to project their voice further. I’ve discovered that most people do know how to project their voice, the problem is often the speaker’s perception of how loudly (or quietly) they’re actually speaking…

Try this. Have someone you trust to stand in the back of a room while you speak in the front. When you stop, write down how you perceived your volume on a scale of 1-10. Then ask the listener to do the same. You’ll likely be surprised to find the listener perceived you as much quieter than you thought. Occasionally I work with someone with the opposite problem. They think they are speaking at a normal volume when in fact they’re speaking much louder. This same technique can help you gauge that too.

Most of the time, if you’re speaking in front of a group, you’ll have the aid of a microphone. But there are times when you need to project your voice without a microphone. I have a client who is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and his beliefs prohibit the use of a microphone to deliver his weekly sermon. Naturally, he speaks in front of a large group each week and his voice needs to be heard.

You too can learn to make your voice carry further and sound louder. It requires a little work, but it will save you from straining your vocal cords.

Here are 3 best practices you can incorporate today:

Breathe Properly

The way you breathe affects the way your voice comes out.  After all, air flowing over your vocal cords is the reason you have a voice at all.

If you breathe shallowly, you will quickly run out of the air, and then your throat muscles tense up to try to squeeze the sound out.  Your voice will sound strained and lack carrying power.  It’s hard on your vocal cords, too.

When you take the time to fill your lungs, it’s as if your voice is riding on a supportive cushion of air, and your throat muscles can stay relaxed.  Your voice will carry better and have a richer, more pleasing sound.

Most people only fill the top of their lungs when they breathe, but in fact, your lungs are larger at the bottom than at the top.  To get a good breath, you need to fill your lungs all the way to the bottom.   Ask any musician who plays the trumpet, tuba, or any other wind instrument and they will tell you that your waist and abdomen must move outward as you inhale and back in as you exhale.  Your chest stays quiet.

If you’ve never done this before, imagine that you are filling your lungs from the bottom up, as if it were water instead of air. Place your hands on your abdomen. You should be able to feel and see your abdomen push out when you breathe properly. Keep your hands there to feel it deflate as you speak.

Articulate with Energy

You might not realize that how well you articulate your words impacts how far your voice carries. You have all the tools you need to articulate clearly; the jaw, the lips, and the tongue. But most people have rather lazy diction (including me!).  You need to use these tools with energy to create clear, crisp consonants.

When you put energy into your muscles of articulation, your voice will lift up and away from your throat muscles and into your face. It actually moves into your cheeks bones and sinus cavities.

Your cheekbones act like the sounding board of a piano, and your sinus cavities (assuming you don’t have a cold) resonate like a big, open room.  That means your voice will have more resonance and will project better to your listeners.

Think of how much energy it takes to run the length of a soccer field or basketball court.  Clear articulation requires just as much energy; you’re simply using smaller muscles.

Don’t Push Your Voice Harder – Make it Bigger

Have you ever been in this situation: You’re trying to make an announcement, but the noise in the room is drowning you out. You ask for quiet, but no one hears you. So you raise your voice and then raise it again. It still doesn’t work. Someone finally whistles loudly and the noise stops so you can talk. But afterwards, your throat muscles tense up and you find yourself rubbing them and looking for a glass of water.

When you push your voice, you really don’t make yourself easier to hear. Instead, you make yourself hoarse and you might even damage your vocal cords.

Instead of pushing, imagine that the inside of your throat and mouth are large, as large as the room you’re speaking in.  That will cause all the muscles around the inside of your throat to pull away, just as they do when you are yawning.  The bigger space inside, the bigger the voice outside.

Source: Lisa B. Marshall – The Public Speaker

help with speach Galway

Meghan Gonzalez says that one of the biggest obstacles to writing a speech is time. Again and again, clients will tell me, “I simply don’t have the time to prepare. From the moment I get into the office, I have back-to-back calls all day. How do I find the time?”

There is no alternative to preparation. However, given time constraints, I’ve devised a system of helping you write a speech when necessary in 30 minutes.

Don’t have 30 minutes? Take one minute and think about the potential of your speech. If your speech is effective, could it change the behaviours of your employees, your volunteers, your neighbours? Could it have a direct, positive impact on the success of your business or non-profit? On your reputation? If so, isn’t it worth it to spend 30 minutes on the speech instead of another meeting or telephone call? Let your sense of purpose help you prioritize.

Here is my advice on how to write a speech when you only have 30 minutes:

  • Find a quiet room, close the door, and turn off your digital devices
    1.  If you are writing on a computer, turn off email notifications.
    2. It’s important to give yourself a clear head to think.
    3. Personally, I start this process in the morning before I even check the day’s emails.
    4. Take three deep breaths before you begin, in order to focus your mind.
  • Ask yourself the three Questions
    1. Who is your audience?
    2. What is your goal?
    3. Why you?
  1. It’s essential that you know who will be in the room during your speech, what you want them to do as a result of hearing you speak, and why this subject is important to you. This strategic preparation will help you think of material to use in the speech itself.
  • Think of one main message
    1. What is the main message you want to get across?
    2. Which examples, data, and stories can you use to illustrate that message?
    3. Try to include both numbers and stories to make an impact on everyone in your audience.
  • Draft your speech in bullet points
    1. Not word-for-word. With only 30 minutes to prepare, you don’t have time to write a script.
    2. Simply outline your main points – you’ll fill in the rest as you practice. Think about unique ways to engage your audience.
  • Write out your first and last sentences
    1. The first and last sentences are the most important parts of any speech.
  • Keep it simple
    1. With limited time to prepare a speech, avoid using slides.
    2. You are better off focusing on the content of your speech rather than the design of your slides.
  • Print out your bullet points in large font
    1. It’s OK to bring notes with you to a speech.
    2. Print out the bullet points in large enough font, on single-sided paper, and write page numbers at the top.

At this point, your first draft of the speech is finished. Now, here are 3 ways to practice the speech.

  • Read the speech out loud and time yourself
    1. Make sure the language sounds like your own words as opposed to your organization’s jargon
    2. Make sure you are keeping to the allotted time, we tend to underestimate the length of our speech until we read it out loud.
  • Practice and record yourself with your smartphone
    1. It is so important to see how you look on camera before you stand in front of an audience. Think about your body language and your vocal tone – do your movements and tone match your words?
  • Close your eyes
    1. Envision yourself giving a powerful speech from start to finish.
    2. Picture the standing ovation at the end and let yourself feel that sense of accomplishment.
    3. Research shows that we remember visualizations in the same part of our brain as actual memories, so imagining a speech helps us feel like we’ve actually delivered it.

 

While I always recommend spending at least a week preparing your speech, reality sometimes dictates otherwise. In only 30 minutes, you can write a clear and concise speech. Spend a little more time on practice and delivery, and you will give a more confident, authentic and impactful speech.

Sources: allisonshapira.com

help with speach Galway

Marcel Schwantes, Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core, communication expert and best-selling author, offer’s us nine helpful strategies to eliminate presentation or “speech” anxiety, based on author and public speaking expert David Greenberg.

Some people rank the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death! It is very real and can be debilitating. Even billionaire Warren Buffett admits that early in his career he was terrified of public speaking. He decided that to reach his full potential, he had to overcome his fear of it. If you are faced with a similar challenge, there are several techniques to help you overcome your fears.

  1. Accept that being nervous is not a bad thing

 Greenberg says, “Being nervous means you care about giving a good presentation. Your nervousness produces adrenaline, which helps you think faster, speak more fluently, and add the needed enthusiasm to convey your message.

  1. Don’t try to be perfect

 Greenberg explains that the fear of public speaking often stems from a fear of imperfection. He urges us to “accept the fact that no one ever gets it perfect and neither will you.” Rather than striving to become a “super-speaker,” Greenberg’s simple advice is to just be yourself. “Your audience will appreciate it,” he says.

  1. Know your subject matter

One must “earn the right,” says Greenberg, to speak on a particular topic. “Become an authority on your topic and know more than most or all of the people in your audience. The more you know, the more confident you will be,” he says

  1. Engage your audience

 Audience involvement is key. Ask your audience questions or have them participate in an activity to hold their attention. Greenberg says that turning your presentation from monologue to dialogue helps reduce your nervousness and engages the audience

  1. Breathe

Breathing from your stomach muscles, not your chest calms the nervous system. Here’s what to do: Take a few deep breaths before and even during your presentation. “As you inhale,” says Greenberg, “say to yourself ‘I am,’ and as you exhale, say ‘relaxed.'”

  1. Visualize your success

 Close your eyes and picture yourself delivering your talk with confidence and
enthusiasm. What does the room look like? What do the people look like? How do you look? “Picture your successful presentation in detail and allow your mind to help turn your picture into a reality,” says Greenberg.

  1. Practice out loud

 

The best way to reduce your anxiety is to rehearse until you feel comfortable, advises Greenberg. “Practicing by yourself is important,” he says, “but I urge you to also practice in front of a friend, colleague, or coach who will give you honest and constructive feedback.”

  1. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

 Caffeinated drinks can increase your heart rate, make you jittery, and cause your hands to shake, which gives your audience the impression you’re a nervous wreck. And, it goes without saying, drinking alcohol to cope with your fears will increase your chances of forgetting things and slurring your words

  1. Make eye contact

 Greenberg suggests arriving early when the room is full of empty chairs and practising by “pretending that you are looking into people’s eyes.” When you begin your talk, pick a few friendly faces in different areas of the room. Says Greenberg, “Not only will the audience appreciate it, but also you will see that they are interested in your message. Add a smile and you are bound to see some in return.”

One of my clients was preparing to deliver a Groom’s Wedding Speech at a large family wedding. They wanted to deliver a memorable and great speech and impress everyone there, most importantly their family. They were concerned that they would break down in tears during the speech, so they asked Great Speech, “How do I manage my emotions in a speech?”

When you have a personal connection to your subject, showing emotion is a powerful way to connect with your audience as an authentic, genuine person. We connect with people through shared feelings and emotions, whether we are in a family setting, corporate boardroom or a non-profit fundraiser.

However, there’s a difference between showing emotion and being overwhelmed by emotion.

Showing emotion can include:

  • Smiling as you talk about an accomplishment you are proud of
  • Softening your voice as you reflect on a personal loss
  • Speaking with passion about an issue you care about

Being overwhelmed by emotion is when you get flustered to the point where you lose the main message of your speech.

So how you do you show emotion without being overwhelmed by it?

In advance of your speech, ask three questions:

  1. Who is your audience
  2. What is your goal
  3. Why you(why do you care about your subject)?

The third question, Why you? helps you connect with an authentic emotion around your subject.

In addition, ask a few other questions, such as, What level of emotion is appropriate for this audience? Where can you push the boundaries without pushing them too far? Let the answers to those questions guide your choice of stories or anecdotes.

If you are concerned about being overwhelmed by emotion in your speech, practice it with someone else in advance. Do you consistently break down at a certain story? If so, you may not be ready to share that particular story. Find a different anecdote that makes the same point but draws less emotion.

Despite our best efforts, there will still be times when we are overcome with emotion in a speech. In those cases, here are some ways to get back on track:

  • Pause and breathe
  • Have water with you and take a sip when you need a moment to collect your thoughts
  • Have notes ready so you can find your place
  • Take another deep breath and keep going
  • Consider adding the emotional story to the end of your speech, so that you end with meaning and can leave the stage without feeling like you cut the speech short

Tapping into emotion is a powerful and authentic way to connect with your audience. You can feel comfortable showing emotion in your speech and you now have some tips to keep your cool when you are overwhelmed by emotion.

Source: allisonshapira.com

December 2019

Tim Willoughby writes about wedding speeches:

Love them or hate them, speeches are a key part of a wedding reception. Those speeches give guests an insight into who the bride and groom are, as well as their relationship, and are a chance for the hosts and the happy couple to speak to and thank their guests for attending. So what’s the best way to arrange these speeches—or just get them over with? Our experts weigh in.

Great wedding speeches are all about timing, both how long the speeches are and when they take place. You don’t want to disrupt the flow of the evening, but you also don’t want to wait so long that the speakers have either had too much to drink or have spent the whole night waiting to get the party started.

Here are a few options:

  1. Have Speeches Happen Right Away
    Getting these formalities out of the way is great for two reasons: Your parents, bridal party and best man can enjoy the rest of the evening stress-free and they can serve to set the tone for the night, too. If you want to kick the night off with speeches, schedule them to happen as soon as everyone has sat down or after the starter. Make your grand entrance, take your seats, then ask the first person (usually the hosts of the event i.e. Bestman) to take the microphone. You can have the speeches all happen back to back or take a little break between speeches so your hotel staff can serve the first course, picking up the microphone again after the salad plates are down. Some weddings have delivered the speeches in the hotel lobby before they actually enter the food hall.
  2. Wait Until Starters Are Served
    Another great option (that still has those speeches happening early in the evening) is to hold off until guests are served their main course. This part of the meal is the longest, so it allows for a little more time for talking without interruptions from the hotel staff. Make sure your hotel staff serves your VIP tables first, so anyone giving a toast can enjoy their meal while it’s hot. Then, as other tables are being served, they can get up and make their speech with a captive audience.
  3. Kick Off the Dancing With Speeches
    The third option is to have speeches at the tail end of the meal when your speechmakers will still have plenty of time to enjoy the reception when they’re done. You can either have them get up to speak at the end of the meal or invite them to take the stage when it’s time to dance. Schedule the speeches, then head straight into the cake cutting. Finish off with your first dance and parent dances, then open up the dance floor!

Sources:

  • https://www.brides.com