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.”

Whether you are a Bride, Groom, Bestman, Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom, the time has / will come where you are faced with writing and delivering a wedding speech that will probably be the most important speech you will deliver in your lifetime before family, relations and friends. You may have done it before, you may not have done it before or this may be your first and only time or you may have more to do in the future. Whatever your situation, treat this wedding speech has the first and last one as people are looking forward to what you are going to say.

To make your speech memorable for all the right reasons, time, persistence and dedication to the cause are three prime ingredients in the writing of the speech.

Time

Start thinking about and writing your speech weeks, even months before the actual wedding. Writing this speech, indeed any speech takes time.

Persistence

Set time aside to write some of it every day and keep at it until you have the first draft completed. Don’t lay up on it until you have achieved this.

Dedication

Enjoy writing it. You are writing about someone or people you love in your life and who are very important you. Give them justice in your speech.

To make your speech unforgettable for all the right reasons; pace, pausing and voice projection are the three prime ingredients in the delivery of your speech.

Pace

You must deliver your speech at the right pace, saying every letter in every word, so as not to speak fast (the main challenge in public speaking).

Pausing

Pause after every comma, full-stop and at the end of every paragraph to allow the audience react to what you have said and allow you to take a breadth.

Voice projection

You need to speak differently to how you would normally speak to people on a one to one. Use inflection techniques by hitting words hard, hitting words soft.

When it comes to any major event, any and every Event Manager will tell you to ‘start early’. And there is no bigger event than arranging a wedding, probably the biggest event any couple will do in their lifetime, demanding a start time 2-3 years in advance in some cases. Breaking down the wedding in to its many components is the trick and then tackling each one in turn until complete is the key i.e. a developing a plan or worklist, where everybody and everything is included.

One of the key components to a wedding is the wedding speeches, that most times is last on the list or plan and sometimes doesn’t even make it on the list or plan. Why is this? For a lot of people, they feel that they will ‘wing’ the wedding speech on the day; they will write their wedding speech nearer the time or on the morning / day of the wedding or they don’t want to think about the wedding speech, because the thought of it upsets / worries them. The wedding speech is the one thing about the wedding that they are simply not looking forward to and hate doing it. But deep down they know it has to be done and they just keep putting the writing and delivery of the wedding speech on the long finger.

Don’t procrastinate and start early by;

• Purchasing a small notebook and pen (or using your smartphone note page)
• Immediately writing down people and things and what you want to say about them as they come to mind
• Opening up a Word document and transferring these into it by drafting the structure / content of the speech
• Doing something on the wedding speech everyday or every few days at least until complete
• Putting the main finishing touches to the wedding speech
• Practicing it
• Putting it away until a few weeks before the wedding and then fully completing it with a final practice rehearsal in the hotel venue

Start early…